Learning, Presentations

Building a PLN

I am sharing some ideas with teachers at my school about building a Personal Learning Network. I have put together a Haiku Deck to summarize my main points and then expanded on these in a Smore Flyer.

Part of my job as a Learning Technology Teacher is sharing tools with teachers so I decided to use two ways of publishing that I don’t always use.

Smore is a great way of putting a lot of multi-media information neatly into one spot. They offer free accounts which do not expire but do have a 5 flyer limit.  Educators can sign up for $59USD per year which gives access to many education themed backgrounds, a default private setting, and unlimited flyers (so your kids can go crazy and make flyers too!).

Haiku Deck is a piece of  presentation software with a Presentation Zen feel.  It is minimalist in design and won’t allow you to fill your slides with thousands of words.  Instead, when you type in a few key words or a sentence with your main point, Haiku Deck will offer you pictures that match those words for you to choose as your background images.  All the images are licensed for Creative Commons use. The only hitch with this one is that our tech department can’t help us with the firewall situation that is blocking access to the images via the iPad app at school.  😦

Any suggestions for things to add to the resources below for people new to creating a Personal Learning Network? Your feedback is welcome! Click on the images below to go to the Flyer and the Presentation:

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Inquiry, Presentations

Adobe Voice meets Powerful Provocations in PYP

The inquiry team at school is working on a series of staff meetings devoted to inquiry and building inquiry into our planning of units of work to allow students to grow individual inquiries.  It is our nod to Genius Hour and we want to see it embedded into units of inquiry in a way that lets students see that they can follow their passions and curiosities through the lens of an inquiry unit.

We are starting later this week with a look at our provocations. In preparing for this meeting, we started thinking about the criteria for a great provocation.  Very timely was the PYP chat on Sept 11th which was about….Provocations!  There are loads of great resources on the PYP Chat Wiki that you should check out.

As life would have it, I was ‘stuck’ (I will never complain about this part of being a mom) reading to and snuggling with my daughter so I missed the first 45 minutes of the Europe PYP Chat.  A quick read back indicated that there wasn’t a real tie in to what we were doing  in terms of creating provocation guidelines for teachers.  So I shared ours.  It looked like this:


Some good ideas but the presentation? Not my cup of tea at all.  So, what to do?  I tend to think in pictures so started sketching out some ideas.  I shared these with our art teacher and we were on to something but then life and time (or lack thereof) got in the way and I knew I wasn’t giving her enough time to work her magic.  And then I remembered Adobe Voice.

I had shared this with our German teachers and I loved how easy it was to use.  It was perfect for the job at hand and in about 13 minutes, I had created this:


What do you consider when creating provocations?

What makes your provocations powerful?

Creativity, Design, Presentations

Visual and Creative Thinking on the iPad

The presentation above is a really great example of an effective use of graphics to get across a message to your audience.  The content is also really interesting if you are interested in pursuing visual recording. I particularly liked the couple of slides (which I have copied below) that give a few tricks for quickly sketching words and ideas into pictures.
Now, I know it says that visual recording is not about being artistic – and I somewhat agree, somewhat disagree.  I look at some of these visuals and I am blown away by how awesome they are and then struck with the “I couldn’t possibly…” disease!  The more I look into it, the more I realize that it is like anything else: get a few good tools under your belt, practice, practice and did I mention you might want to practice?
The next video is from Rachel S. Smith who is a visual recorder/visual facilitator and she is specifically speaking about using the iPad for this.  Her talk (which is done in Brushes) is really interesting and she gives information on four apps that you could use if you wanted to give this a go. A great suggestion she makes if you are someone who is wanting to give this a go but don’t currently have a conference to attend, is to try it out on a YouTube video – or a TED talk.  The four apps she gives information on:

What about a stylus?  I have not used one on the iPad (although when John finishes his apple pie, he is going to hunt one down from an old phone of his so I can give it a go).  If I were to buy one, however, the cosmonaut would be my choice.


Graphic Presentations and Genetically Modified Wheat

My husband is often spotting gems on YouTube and passing them on to me.  I usually fear he is merely placating me and nodding along as I talk about all these things but then surprises me by sharing a perfect example of the exact thing I have been talking about!  I have him to thank for the Day Made of Glass videos, as an example.

I also have him to thank for this example of a graphic presentation from Greenpeace.  It looks to me like it could have been done on Prezi or something similar (probably more sophisticated than that?) but I liked the pace, the graphics, the voice-over timed with the graphics and I especially appreciated the message!

Here is a blog post from the same organization on the same topic that would probably take the same amount of time to skim read as it would to watch the video.  The video grabs me.  I wrote to the Australian PM as one of her ‘neighbors’ urging her to step in and protect Australia’s food supply and stop GM wheat from being grown in Australia.  Would I have done that from just reading the blog post? Probably – but maybe not!

I would love to give half my class the video and half access to the blog post and then see which group was more passionate about GM wheat.

Definite possibilites for imitation of this product  in the classroom and countless opportunities to stimulate discussion from the content of this presentation.

Thanks, Greenpeace.

Design, Presentations

Presenting At It’s Best

So I have to start with a nod to my Yokohama colleague, Jamie.  We seem to be living in a somewhat parallel universe these days!  Jamie recently updated his resumeso did I.  Jamie has shared today his evolution from PowerPoint to Zen in presentation = and I am about to do the same!

I was recently at the NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle for a day.  Not one of the presenters who ‘spoke’ to me there used a PowerPoint.  They began by making a human connection, perhaps showing some photos or video footage to engage my attention and help me relate and possibly later (as a nod to conformity) threw up a few slides. The other people I saw (bigger group) punched through their slides like maniacs, reading the data off them, punching through faster, reading faster, skipping over some (what was on it??) and ultimately ended with ‘you can download the PowerPoint from the NAIS website“. Really?  I thought the purpose of conferences was to engage with people and connect with others?

Now, this might be all a matter of personal opinion.  I went to one such workshop  and was less than inspired by the totally uncreative, old-school presentation.  I was also somewhat surprised to hear another participant describe it as “the best thing he has ever experienced!”.  Was the content good?  Yes. Delivery?  Not so much.  I don’t think it helps that if you look at the guidelines for being an NAIS presenter, your visual options are PowerPoint or PowerPoint.

So, what are the alternatives?

I am a huge fan of the Pecha Kucha format of presenting.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.
It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. – PechaKucha website

If you try it, you will see it is actually really hard to limit yourself to only speak for such a short period of time BUT it really does help you cut out the unnecessary and allow you more time to connect with your audience after the ‘formal’ presentation.  Most of us know within 4 minutes if something is worth more of our time.  If not, no harm done – only a few minutes ‘lost’.  If it is, go connect, ask questions, engage, discuss, collaborate with that person.  One of my biggest struggles at NAIS was committing to a workshop based on a vague description and finding out 4 minutes into it that it really wasn’t for me but uncomfortable about slipping out.

We recently introduced the PYP Exhibition to our parents.  We downloaded a fairly generic ‘intro to the exhibition’ PowerPoint and proceeded to tweak a few words to ‘make it our own’.  My own worst nightmare was about to come true as I knew we would find ourselves doing a read aloud to the parents…arrrghhh!

I took the slides, gutted out their main points, shuffled them around, culled, combined and settled on twenty ideas.  These ideas became pictures.  Those pictures became slides and our new presentation was born.  I tried setting the timer for 20 seconds per slide but I sounded like a chipmunk on high speed trying to say everything so I settled for around 40 seconds per slide.  We did one run-through with our principal, one with our kids and then the ‘real deal’ with the parents – and it was really good!

I think the pictures engaged the parents, they reminded me visually what I needed to say without having to have any notecards as pictures instead of words really works for me so I was able to talk from one slide to the next in a relaxed and natural way.  What I have also noticed, is that when parents and kids have asked me questions, I find myself answering them through the pictures: “Remember the slide with all the question marks and then the one big question mark that represented your exhibition idea?  We are still in the ‘lots of question marks’ part where you are thinking of all the possibilities for your unit”. Conversely, parents have asked me questions through the pictures “So that One Man Band – what do they really need to be doing?”

I put the presentation together in Keynote but have recently zipped that file and uploaded it to SlideShare.  This is how it looks:

I then, thanks to Jamie, discovered SlideRocket and downloaded it as a Google App.  I see they also offer free accounts for Educators and Students as part of Google Apps for Education – something I know nothing about but am interested in pursuing further as that could be a really great option for online sharing.  Here is how the SlideRocket version turned out.  NOTE: I had to create the presentation again in SlideRocket as it is not compatible with Keynote which is odd as it is almost exactly like Keynote and Keynote users will have no trouble using it online:

The need for this presentation arose because firstly, we didn’t have one and secondly, it was one of the requirements of the PYP Workshop on the Exhibition.  For that assignment, I submitted a Prezi but I was not happy with it despite getting a lot of positive feedback.  I felt like it was a Keynote on a roller coaster and the whole thing made me a little nauseous by about half way through it. See for yourself (you have been warned!):

I love Prezi but am still a novice at really focusing on it’s zooming capabilities.  If you read the book Zoom before starting, I think it will help you with that focus and result in a much better ‘zoomed’ presentation.

Regardless of your tool, think about what you like in a presentation.  Better yet, think of it as less of a ‘presentation’ and more of a ‘conversation’ – it will be better for everyone!  Alternatively you could PRESENT NAKED.

P.S. If you are curious to know what the ‘bullet points’ were for each of the slides we used in our presentation to parents, a summary for parents was posted on my class blog.