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Thinking about a new box

I spend a lot of my time thinking about how things can be accomplished for teachers who have an idea but don’t know how to realise it. Sometimes it is as simple as creating a template in Word for students to use as a scaffold for their writing. Sometimes we end up digging into the bowels of the Google Earth support documents to learn how to add an image to a placemark that is a part of a path with an audio commentary for a Google Earth tour. In each case, the teacher and I are working from the “This is how I want to challenge my students” point of view as we plan on introducing content, context and construct. It was after a couple of these planning sessions with a grade 5 home room teacher and a grade 11 biology teacher that I thought about using the excellent web-based presentation app called Prezi in a way that maybe they hadn’t planned.Biology was looking for a food web application that allowed a significant amount of detail to be included and grade five was looking for some mind mapping software. Now, there are some great food web and mind-mapping tools out there and after looking at a whole heap of them for some time I found myself pondering Prezi. Ponder, ponder, ponder.

So at the end of the pondering here’s what we are going to do… The biology students are going to develop their food web’s using Prezi and will illustrate the complex relationships using the text, image and picture tools within Prezi. They will then develop a path through their Prezi to explain the relationships they have illustrated and at the same time will develop a narration for the presentation. Using Jing, they will then capture a screencast of the Prezi as it plays and will read their narration, creating a food web that is dynamic, interesting and unique.

The grade five class will use their Prezi to develop a mind map of concepts related to their unit of study. They will use the Prezi as a learning journal throughout the unit and will (as a culminating activity) link all the notes they have taken on their Prezi with a focus on explaining the relationships between the different pieces of information they have gathered. Again, they will design a path through their mind map, develop a narration, create a screencast using Jing and record their narration as the screencast takes place.

Where this really shines is when the students begin to design their path through their information and explain the relationships along that path. So while Prezi is designed as a presentation tool with a difference, the way it works and the way it allows the creator to work with it has opened up some great opportunities for students to be creative, unique and inventive when displaying their knowledge about a given topic. And essentially, the finished product should be good enough to present to anyone interested in learning more about that particular topic.

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