Have you heard of prezi.com? It’s a powerful, new-ish presentation and collaboration tool useful to both educators and students alike. I’ve used it to introduce vocabulary (students really respond to the zooming feature) and most recently as class-wide cultural project:
- First, I reserved a week and a half at the computer lab in advance.
- I grouped students into teams of 4 or 5 and assigned one country to each team.
- Each student then received a handout (shown above), and after covering project expectations, I assigned one country to each team. The teams then 1) came up with a travel agency name and 2) delegated research tasks amongst each other.
- On our first day at the computer lab, the students were tasked to research their chosen category. Keep in mind that many students don’t know how to execute an effective Google search to find general information (high-school students, even), so I would recommend going over some tips before starting the research. Here’s a really great infographic that covers tips and tricks on how to better use Google to research information (right). I would also recommend that students use http://wolframalpha.com — it’s like Google, only better (no ads, awesome for general fact-finding)!
- After a day of research, next came the introduction to prezi.com. This part was a little tricky — I needed for all of my students to create Prezi accounts which requires the use of e-mail addresses. Some students didn’t have personal e-mail accounts, so I had to think of a way to assign them an e-mail address for them to use. After a bit of research, I found that I could use my personal Gmail account to do this! Google mail allows for “clone” accounts of your e-mail address — all you have to do is add a “+” sign. For example, my e-mail is email@example.com, so I assigned my students e-mail addresses that looked like this: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. Since these are clone accounts, students can’t actually access your Gmail using them, and best yet, if they forgot their Prezi passwords, YOU get the reset password e-mail in your inbox. Easy!
- After creating Prezi accounts, I asked my students to create their first Prezi. I taught them a few tricks (how to insert an image, YouTube video, etc.) and let them play with it for a little while.
- The next tasked required for students within a team to share a LONG LINK with each other. In order for students to collaborate together on ONE PREZI, one person from each team initiates a “Prezi Meeting” and invites others to collaborate. But without access to e-mail, sharing a long link with others by simply writing it down is close to impossible. So, we used http://piratepad.net to share our long links. This did require a little work on my part (I created 8 PiratePads beforehand [one for each class], linked them to my website [you can see the post here], directed students to access my website and click on their team’s PiratePad, and post their links there for their teams to view and click on).
- Students LOVED seeing themselves and their peers pop up on the Prezi canvas during Prezi Meeting! They thought it so cool that they could edit their canvas together. After they entered their Prezi Meetings, they retain access to that Prezi, so next time the logged on, they could work on it straight away.
Overall, they did such a fabulous job! Here’s one of the many awesome presentations that my students created this year!