Collaborating on Professional Learning: Digital Tools

I know it has been a little over a month since my last post and as one of my professional resolutions, I resolve to uphold a regular posting schedule…again.  I was great about regular posts when I was in the classroom, but have fumbled around with what to say since I left the classroom.  Interestingly enough, I have more to say now, and just need to own up to it and make it happen.  So, I also resolve to follow through with unfinished posts (and various sundry projects as well).  To paraphrase Seth Godin in Poke the Box, not finishing a task doesn’t count as “shipping” (or delivering/presenting your work) and if you don’t “ship” you can’t succeed or fail.  Seth Godin is a huge proponent of failure as a means toward deeper, reflective learning.  As an educator, so am I.  It is about time that I take my own advice and just put stuff out there…good stuff of course, but there is no sense in having a bunch of ideas that never see the light of day.

In keeping with this resolution, below is a post I started some months ago (as in September 2015 to be exact…yes, I know I am running on super-slow island girl time here).  Hopefully some of these resources will be useful to you, your student(s), or your teammates.

Enjoy!

Ms. W.


This past fall, I paired up with Wenona, one of our CCSD Title I Academic Coaches to deliver a Professional Learning session to our peers.  By bringing together both of our experiences within the classroom and as coaches, the two women were able to share ways in which digital tools can be used to help classroom teachers, streamline day-to-day work, and to aid in the presentation of Professional Learning.  Some of the digital tools referenced included, but were not limited to: Sway, Office Mix, Padlet, Voxer, Survey Monkey (Pro), Outlook, and more.  (see image below)

Using Tech to Streamline...Handout Chart Screenshot

This presentation was delivered via NearPod, which can be found here, or seen in PDF form as linked below.

Beyond the NearPod presentation, the general presentation materials can be found below.

Make Presentations Soar with Sway

With Office 365, Microsoft‘s online portal of products, a few new programs have been quietly introduced.  One such program is Sway.  In exploring this PowerPoint alternative, it becomes abundantly clear how the possibilities for its application are quite limitless.

So what exactly is Sway?

Sway would be best described as a cross between a PowerPoint and a streamlined website.  It organizes information into “cards” which are similar to PowerPoint’s slides.  These cards, however, can be used to show text, images, embedded information, videos, maps, and a multitude of other features.

Sway Screenshot MSOffice Blogs
A screenshot of Sway in action courtesy of the Microsoft Office blog.

How can Sway be used?

In looking at Microsoft’s quirky tutorial series on Sway, one finds out that Sway is intended to be a presentation tool.  This November 2014 article by Business Insider suggests that Sway could eventually replace PowerPoint, but with the addition of the “Mix” extension to PowerPoint, it does not seem as though that is in Microsoft’s plan at this point in time.  In their tutorial series, they suggest using Sway to collect information on the weather, images from a vacation, or even to create a newsletter.  In education, this means that we can take these suggestions a few steps further to enhance the classroom experience.

Educators could use Sway to create:

  • a Smart Board/E-Beam/Promethean Board center.
    • During centers day, the interactive whiteboard could be its own interactive station where students can explore the content.
    • This could draw students of all ages into the content by having them interact with maps, videos, images, and documents embedded into the Sway presentation.
  • an interactive newsletter to email to parents.
    • Embed the PowerPoints from the week, pictures of students hard at work, and include PDF files of the required assignments.
    • The Sway newsletter could, in this case, be used to help students who have been absent by providing a collection of the week’s lesson materials.  It can also serve to keep parents informed of what content has been shared in class.
  • an interactive activity for a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) lesson.
    • The inclusion of videos, images, and documents will provide students with background information on a topic.
    • Social Studies and English teachers can make a Sway to create an interactive DBQ (document based question)/LBQ (literature based question) prompt.
    • Teachers of all grade levels could use a Sway presentation as an interactive lesson overview for previewing or reviewing purposes.
  • a presentation of student growth per unit or per school year.
    • A Sway presentation could be made to showcase data in an interactive format.
    • With end-of-the-year teacher evaluations, one could include charts, graphs, or spreadsheets with this information.

How could Sway be used within the halls of your school?

Spice Up Your Presentations with Office Mix

Office 365 offers untold treasures beyond cloud storage for documents and spreadsheets.  In fact, with it and updating to Office 2013, there are many new programs, and program extensions that have great utility in schools.

Enter: Office Mix.
Office Mix is an extension to PowerPoint which means that once downloaded, it adds enhanced features to your existing PowerPoint program.  With Mix, which is represented by a button on the “ribbon” or toolbar at the top, you can add a variety of items to PowerPoint.

Office Mix Ribbon

With Mix you can:

  • embed videos (without it just being a link or having to save the video to your computer),
  • record screencasts,
  • create recorded screen drawings (think Khan Academy),
  • use your webcam to record, and
  • include interactive questions, quizzes, or polls.

Mix includes its own version of an app store with the interactive features you can embed into your PowerPoint.  Once Microsoft adds more to the current offerings, this program will certainly prove even more useful than it already can be.Office Mix Apps 3

How can it be used to enhance your lessons?

With Mix you can:

  • conduct remediation/review,
  • create flipped lessons/blended learning opportunities,
  • illustrate a process for more self-directed lessons, and
  • create alternative presentations (for student projects, or teachers).

Once again, the possibilities are seemingly endless.  How do you see yourself using Office Mix in your classroom?

 

Originally posted on my team’s blog.