Sunday, June 2, 2013

A New Home

I have officially moved my blog from Blogger to my website located here.  All posts located here have been moved and all new posts will only be on

Thank you for reading!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Digital Portfolios and the Independent Learner

Digital Portfolios in the K-12 Classroom using Google Sites
One of the most important aspects of K-12 education will not be found on any standardized test.  It won't be found in a textbook or in an online curriculum.  It is found in our students and our teachers.  Teachers that encourage students to reflect on their learning and students who go through the reflection process as a part of their journey to becoming an independent learner.  One wonderful tool for this process is the student digital portfolio.  Portfolios can be used for many things such as a demonstration of student success, an assessment tool or an archive of student work.  I would like to explore the digital portfolio as a tool for helping students become independent learners by having them constantly reflect on their learning and how they can improve it. If you are thinking that this sounds like it would take up a lot of your class time, stay with me.  It won't. This post will explore various tools for creating digital portfolios and steps teachers can take in order to smoothly implement digital portfolios in their classrooms or schools.

Before we discuss the rest of this topic, I urge any school interested in implementing digital portfolios to do so as a team.  Not necessarily an entire school at one time, but a group of educators at one time.  For example: if you have a seventh grade language arts class maintaining a digital portfolio, it would be more beneficial for the students if they kept a digital portfolio that encompasses all of their classes as opposed to just one.  A digital portfolio in language arts may help them improve their writing, but a digital portfolio that encompasses all of their seventh grade classes will improve their overall learning.  If organized well, this process should not take much time away from the coursework and should help all students become better learners by improving the quality of their work.  Ok, enough of my soap box, let's get into the details.

Tools for creating digital portfolios.

I am a fan of using Google Apps for Education since it has all of the tools needed for making wonderful digital portfolios.  Here are the portions of Google Apps that you can use:
  1. Google Sites - This is the most important piece.  A portfolio template can be created by an adult (tech team or educator) which can be used by students.  Providing a framework allows students to focus on their work instead of spending time manipulating the look of the portfolio.  Here are a couple of templates I have used in the past.  Feel free to make a copy. (Elementary, Middle/High, Art, Middle/High General)
  2. Picasa Web - Assuming that "Picasa Web Albums" is available in your Google Apps domain, this is a great way to help students store and organize images.  Students can create picture albums within Picasa Web that correspond to the subjects within the portfolio. Storing images in Picasa makes inserting them into the Google Site very easy.  
  3. Google Docs - If your students use Google Docs to complete some tasks, the student can embed that document (or Google Presentation) directly into the portfolio without the need to take a picture of it.  Embedded presentations are working presentations, not screenshots, so if you embed a presentation into a portfolio, the portfolio visitor can flip through the presentation.
Outside of Google Apps, you will need a way to take pictures of student work.  If the work is digital, a screenshot can be captured and uploaded to Picasa Web.  If the work is not digital, I find the iPad (or any tablet) to be very useful.  You could do things the old fashioned way and use a digital camera, but that adds more steps to the process, and who wants that?  If you take an image with a mobile device, you can immediately transfer that image to Picasa Web, and in some cases take the image in an app that uploads the image to Picasa for you (such as Best Album).

Organization of a Student Digital Portfolio

This is a tricky one.  Although most of us could agree on what goes into a digital portfolio,  many people have different ideas of how to organize it.  In my experience, there is no single correct answer.  Primarily, the organization of a digital portfolio needs to be:
  1. Easily understood by the student
  2. Easily understood by the portfolio visitors
  3. Easily navigable (topics and sub-topics clear and easy to find)
The screens within a digital portfolio should follow a logical sequence and have a similar look and feel to all other pages (hence the idea of making a template for kids to use). Portfolios that use different backgrounds and where the information is in different places on each page are difficult to follow. This is a great opportunity to help students understand how to present information on the web. (a very important skill)

Classroom Time and Digital Portfolios

If a template is used for portfolios, the time needed to work on portfolios should be minimal.  It take a little more time at the beginning of the school year, but once the students learn the routine, it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes or so a week.  Let's look at the time needed.

Time is needed to collect the visual for student work examples.  This could be done as the assignments are handed back to the student or as they complete a task.  For example:  When students receive a written homework assignment back from the educator, the expectation is that they use their iPad (or whatever device) to take a snapshot of the assignment and add it to their Picasa Web account (this is also a good way to keep the students productively occupied when passing out papers).  If an assignment is in Google Docs, they can take the last 3 minutes of class to add that document to the appropriate digital portfolio screen (this could also be a simple homework or study hall assignment).

Time to write is critical.  At first this will take longer, but as students get into the habit about analyzing their work, the time it takes them to write their thoughts should be drastically.  This process should only take 10-15 minutes per assignment.  Note: Students don't add every assignment to their portfolio.  A few assignments per subject per grading period should work well.  If you are doing digital portfolios as a group (see my suggestion above), students will become accustomed to writing about their work much more quickly, improving their writing, their reflection and the amount of class time needed.

The Non-traditional Learner

If you have students in your classroom who have difficulty writing, or who have difficulty with English, there are other ways to get them to reflect on their learning.  One way is to have them use a mobile device or laptop to record their thoughts on a quick and easy video. This video can be uploaded to YouTube (using the same Google Apps account you have used for everything else) and that video could be embedded into the portfolio instead of the writing. (Mobile devices such as the iPad make it very simple to take video footage and upload it to YouTube.)   Those who are video shy, could do an audio only recording which can be uploaded, but in my experience the video works better with Google Sites.

Final Thoughts

All I have written above is ONE way to approach digital portfolios in your classroom.  As I stated earlier, there are many different ways and resources.  Some schools find it easier to use Wordpress or Weebley while others use services such as taskstream.  You should find the way that is best for your individual situations.  I offer a live-online two hour course about using Google Sites for those who are interested.  Below you will find other digital portfolios resources.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact me through my website.

Educause - Digital Portfolios in the Age of the Read/Write Web
Research Paper - Using Reflective Electronic Portfolios to Enhance Student Learning
Drake University - The Electronic Portfolio as Assessment Tool and More
Nellie Mae Education Foundation - Integrating Technology with Student Centered Learning

Friday, May 3, 2013

5 Traits of High Quality Professional Development

For the past seven years a large part of my job has been focused on providing professional development for K-12 educators.  Specifically, professional development centered around technology in education.  Over the years I have paid close attention to things I felt could help me improve my teaching of teachers.  Here is what I have learned:
  1. Professional Development needs to have a clear focus and purpose. (just like when teachers teach students)
  2. Professional Development needs to have obtainable goals.  (just like when teachers teach students)
  3. Professional Development needs to be relevant to the learner.  (just like when teachers teach students)
  4. Professional Development needs to be interactive and engaging. (just like when teachers teach students)
  5. Professional Development needs to use a variety of strategies to convey information and to gather information. (just like when teachers teach students)
In my experience, when I share these thoughts with administrators I get a hugh round of agreement.  Most educators and administrators understand that standing in front of a group of teachers and talking at them (yes, I mean at them) for an hour or two is not the best way to approach professional development for educators (especially when it is about technology).  Yet, we do it all the time.  We attend staff meetings to learn something new by having someone stand and talk or show us a lovely PowerPoint presentation.  We go to conferences where we sit and listen to people for hours on end while trying to write down the most important stuff to remember (most of which we forget).  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Here are some of my guesses:
  1. Many people find it easier to sit and listen than to actively participate in a training.  Not participating also means that we take not responsibility for our learning.  
  2. It's cheaper to hire someone to talk to 100 people at one time for two hours than to hire someone to work with those same people over a course of time where they can get interactive and relevant training in smaller groups.
  3. It's easier to schedule everyone in a school to do the same thing at the same time than to have to schedule smaller groups for more interactive learning experiences.
  4. It takes less time to organize an individual to give a lecture than to organize an individual to come into the school and work with groups of teachers at different times on different schedules.
  5. It's cheaper to hire someone to talk to 100 people at one time for two hours than to hire someone to work with those same people over a course of time where they can get interactive and relevant training in smaller groups. (yes, I know I said this one before, but it's such a big one that it merits repeating)
So what do we do? How do we help educators learn new things and new technologies?  In short, that's a tricky question. The best way is to have an expert come into your school and work directly with the educators in their space with their equipment.  (p.s. choose someone who has classroom experience, not  just someone who knows the technologies being used) (p.s.s. shameless plug - I offer these services, so feel free to contact me about your needs).  This way is not always feasible for some schools due to scheduling or finances.

Another option is to send some staff members to a conference or training and have them teach the others in the school.  Not the most effective way, but it's a decent option for some schools.  The difficulty with this option is that the teacher who does go to the training or conference will forget a lot of what they learned before they ever train the rest of the educators or staff.  The remaining educators or staff will in turn, forget a lot of what they were taught by their colleague.  In the end this can lead to little gain if not handled carefully and the appropriate time is not given to allow everyone to work with the given tool or concept.  Enough time to work with the tool or concept is very important.

Online professional development is a great option for some.  Those that don't feel the need to interact with an instructor or leader can use recorded or self-guided online tutorials and training for a wide variety of things.  Note.  I said "those that don't feel the need to interact with an instructor..."  NOT "everyone likes doing online classes" OR "everyone is comfortable with online learning".   Many people are perfectly fine learning some things this way.  Usually more concrete concepts such as how to turn on your iPad or how to set margins in MS Word.  I don't think many people will go to sefl-guided online sources to learn the finer points of particle physics.

Online courses that span an extended amount of time can be a great way to learn new things.  These usually have instructors who are there to help and answer questions (not usually live though) and can even set virtual (online) office hours for live conversations.  I've attend many wonderful online courses through different universities.  There are also options like Peer 2 Peer University where people volunteer to teach a free online class for anyone to take.  I haven't taken any of these (who has the time?) but I've heard good things.

Webinars are a good way to learn a lot of the little things.  These are usually 1 hour online lectures or conversations people can attend in order to learn about a product or concept.  It is more conversational in tone and many are free (many are not).  Many educators attend a webinar without any reservations and many educators are not comfortable learning online.  This is where my idea comes in.  Why not lengthen the time of the webinar and make it more interactive?  I don't mean interactive as in  people get to talk.  I mean interactive as in  participants are asked to pick up their iPad and combine apps to make folders or to connect their Google Drive app to their account.  I mean interactive as in asking participants to start a new Google Site based on a template you provide while you (the instructor) stay at your screen and microphone ready to help anyone who needs it.  The first time I tried this,, my co-teachers were shocked and asked if I was afraid of loosing control of the class.  I responded "I never had control of the class.  I'm the guide that is here to help them learn.  They decided whether they will actually learn or not."

So here's my second and final shameless plug.  With this online learning concept in mind, I developed a series of two-hour live-online technology classes for educators (or administrators), currently focused on iPad, Google Apps (including Google Sites, Picasa Web, Youtube etc...) and Flipped Classroom Tools for Teachers. If you are interested in learning more about these classes or would like to register for one (I make them nice and cheap for schools and individuals) you can find what you need here.

For those that like to see what the research has to say about professional development in this modern world, here are some resources.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me through my website.

Partnership for 21st Century Skills
Reconstructing Teacher Education

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Classroom Management in the 21st Century

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Often, when I work with educators in using technology, I let them get their concerns out in the open and out of the way very early in the process.  Once that is done, I find people are more willing to try new things and generally feel better about using technology in the classroom.  One thing that often comes up in this part of the conversation is classroom management.  So the questions is: What is classroom management in the 21st century?  I'd like to explore this topic in this post.

How is classroom management stayed the same?

Over the years we have learned that some classroom management techniques are more effective than others.  Walking around the room while students are working on something is much more effective than sitting at your desk.  Looking at a student who is doing something they shouldn't is often more effective than calling out to them in class.  A classroom with set routines is more likely to have fewer behavioral issues than a class where things constantly change.  Below are a list of classroom management techniques that are not unique to the 21st century, but are still relevant.

  • Be Consistent
  • Make parents your allies
  • Keep students actively engaged in learning
  • Keep a sense of humor
  • Use a class timer during activities
  • Model the behavior you want to see in your students
  • Using "I" statements when dealing with behavior issues
  • Using proximity to avoid issues (teacher walks around the room and interacts with students instead of staying at a single location).
With the addition of tablets, laptops, phones and myriad other devices that come to school, there are techniques educators can use to help ensure students spend more time engaged in learning than in "other" activities.  I will offer some explanations and suggestions to this list.
  • Room arrangement - The days of students sitting in rows is long gone (hopefully).  However, if students work areas are a variety of formats, there are things to consider.  As the educator moves around the room, he/she should be able to see many student device screens from a single vantage point.  No student should have a digital device while sitting with their back to a wall.  Try to arrange the room with as many students facing the same way as possible without compromising social learning.
  • Educator Proximity - I know this is listed above, but in my experience this has changed a little over the years.  Students know when the educator is coming close to them and prior to technology this was a great way to ensure they were on task.  Now, students can just hide what they are doing until the teacher has passed.  If you suspect a student is off task, stand where you can see their screen from a distance.  They may notice you have moved into position, but will quickly forget since you are not physically close.  Please note: I see this is a later action.  If you suspect a student is off task, it is beneficial to give them other cues such as quietly checkin on their status or quietly asking them if they are managing the task well.  This is often enough to redirect student behavior.  Educators can also wirelessly share their device to the class screen, allowing you to walk around during direct instruction instead of being stuck at the front of the room.
  • Work sharing - One of the great new methods of social learning and student interaction is the ability of students (and teachers) to share the information on their screen with the class through the classroom projector.  Allowing students to wirelessly send their screen to the projector is a great way to keep them interested in the assignment.  Many students can share information through this method faster than it used to take just a few students to go to the front of the room to share.  (Although I've only done this with the iPad, there are wireless gateways that can allow other devices to do the same kind of thing.)
  • The Physical Touch - While working with a group of educators, one brought up the concern about student cheating while taking online tests. (she is talking about taking an online test while in the classroom, not outside of school)  Some testing sites (on laptops) can lock the laptop down to only using that particular browser window and nothing else.  I haven't seen way to do this on the iPad that is fairly simple for the educator to do, so this is what we came up with.  If an educator is giving an online test they do the following:
    • Tell the testing program to randomize the questions and answers (when possible)
    • Have students go to the testing site and quit all other apps.
    • Students double click the home button (if all apps are closed and only the browser is running, no apps should show underneath the screen) and the teacher will walk around the room and do a quick check.  As the educator walks around he/she taps the student on the shoulder as the cue to begin the test.  This takes less than 2 minutes and combined with the other techniques listed above makes online cheating during a digital test much more difficult.
  • The QR code - QR codes are extremely simple to create and share.  If there are online resources you want to share with students, QR codes are a great way to go.  It saves time and avoids students typing in web addresses.  For example, if you want students to use a specific website, project the QR code on the classroom screen.  If you are the kind of educator who makes multiple versions of a quiz or test, make a QR code that goes to each test and pass them out randomly (on little pieces of paper) to students.  If you want to randomly group students, you can create a QR code for each (tied to their email address) and pass them out randomly.  (this is better than pulling names from a hat).  Below are links to some QR code ideas for educators.
  • Timer - Using a timer is mentioned above, but I wanted to mention it here as well.  Projecting a timer onto the class screen during projects is a great way to help students stay focused and motivated.  They can always see how much time is left and having a visual indicator of the time available is good for student pacing and mental organization.
Other sites discussing this topic can be found below.  You can also find information about modern teaching techniques and activities on my website (

Sources for classroom management in the 21st century:
21st Century Principal
Bright Hub Education
Mister Peters
OLE Community

QR codes in the classroom:
Swamp Frog

QR code creators:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Paperless Powerhouse: 5 Tools that can Help Your Classroom go Paperless

Many things have changed over the past twenty years.  We used to listen to music on our shiny new CD's, now we listen to music with a digital device and some children don't even know what a CD is.  Twenty years ago we went to the video store to rent a VHS (or Beta) video so we could go home and watch it on our awesome 24" screen.  Now we just rent movies through our Apple TV, Roku or Netflix to watch in on many different devices.  Twenty years ago, when kids wanted to go out, they went home to ask permission or went to a friends house to make a phone call, now kids just send a txt.  Twenty years ago teachers would carry home all of these pieces of paper to grade.  Now...teachers carry home all of these pieces of paper to grade.  What happened?  How did the world move forward while we in education seem to be in some sort of time warp (not the fun one with the dance moves)?  This article will help those who want to break free of the time warp and move toward a paperless classroom.  It will also be useful to those who like to keep current on some great tools that can be helpful in maintaining a modern learning environment.

First, let's define a paperless classroom.  When I talk about a paperless classroom, I am not talking turing paper assignments into pdf files so kids can fill them out on a screen.  I am talking about a learning environment where students and teachers use technology in order to communicate, investigate, theorize, test, collaborate, create and I think you get the idea.  I am talking about a truly modern classroom, and guess what...sometimes that does include paper.  Use paper when necessary and appropriate and not an instance more.  Okay, enough rambling, let's look at some great paperless tools.


The first thing you need is something to work on.  A laptop or desktop will do nicely, or you can use any one of the mobile devices available today.  Personally, I tend to go for the mobile device, they are smaller, easier to carry around and are just plain fun to work with.   Outside of the iPad (my personal favorite) some other tablets are: Google Nexus, Asus Transformer Pad, Samsung Tablet and the new kid on the block the Amplify Tablet.  Don't just pick any tablet that can use online collaboration tools such as Google Drive or Zoho.  Can the device record audio, video and still images?  Can it annotate pdf files?  Can you edit video?  A modern classroom is more than research and writing papers, it's about passion and exploration.  It's about critical and creative thinking and making new things. Pick the right hardware for reaching your goals.


Yes....there's an app for that.  One very important thing to consider when selecting hardware is the software that will work with it.  Is there software (or apps) that will allow the user to  do what needs to be done.  Maybe the device is powerful enough to edit video, but the software is cumbersome and difficult to use.  If the software isn't user friendly, you have a hugh problem on your hands.   Let's not forget about the more mundane projects that are really important in the life of a student.  A good pdf annotator or journaling app can make a world of difference in the classroom.  There's no point in finding free apps if they aren't user friendly or don't accomplish your goals.  You will find some of my favorite educational iPad apps listed on the mobile apps page of my website.

Online Services

There are a lot of ways for students to share digital files with educators.  One way is through an online application system such as Google Apps or Zoho.  Both of these services are great and allow for file sharing.  In my experience though, it is sometimes better to use a Learning Management System (LMS) instead.  A LMS will not only allow students to share files back and forth with the educators, a good LMS will streamline a lot of the tedious work for the educator, leaving him/her more time to create quality learning experiences for students.  (See my recent post on this topic here)   It will also allow an educator (and students) to organize information and share a wide variety of resources under one "roof".  For example, several Google Documents, YouTube videos, websites and audio files can all be stored in folders organized by topic, date or type. All the necessary files for a lesson or unit can be stored in a single folder or "collection".  A similar result can be accomplished using Google Apps (including Google Sites), but I find a LMS to be easier to use in that type of situation.

Digital Quizzes/Tests

Giving quizzes and tests online can be a great way to remove paper from a classroom.  Online quizzes can be at least partially graded by the computer (non essay questions) leaving the educator with the results and data without the work ofgrading.  Some online quizzes will export to excel (can we say grade book integration?) and some give students instant feedback so they don't have to wait for the educator to take the papers home and grade them.  Many online quizzes can have times when they are visible to the students and can shuffle the questions and answer options.  If you like the idea of online quizzes and grade book integration, you should check out Schoology.  It has a nice quizzing module that talks directly to the grade book. Other nice online quiz options include: Quizlet, Quiz Star and Quiz Egg.


Any truly modern classroom is going to include video of some sort from somewhere.  There are video sources for schools such as Khan Academy or IXL.  Educators that are so inclined to make their own videos, have a variety of tools available to them that varies according to the hardware available (see how some things go back to hardware?).  Let's not overlook the YouTube option.  Some people get nervous when you talk about putting videos on YouTube or students putting videos on YouTube, but there are things you can do to keep videos out of the "public eye".  If you are interested in using video or doing a flip classroom concept, you can find more information about flip and videos (including flip classroom apps for the iPad) on the Mobile Learning - Flip Classroom  page of my website.

And a pinch to grow an inch....


I am not talking about the superhero (don't worry if you don't know him, he's not that popular). I am talking about a vision for your classroom.  A classroom without a vision is like a sailing ship without a sail or a kite without a string.  You can get lost and/or things can get away from you very quickly.  Like with any environment, there needs to be direction.  People like direction (that's why we have GPS and cool looking maps).  Before embarking on a modern 21st century classroom, stop, breathe and make a plan.  A flexible plan, but it should still be a plan.  Below are a list of sites that may help you with your paperless classroom plan.  If you have any questions or would like some advice about implementing a paperless classroom, feel free to contact me through the Contact Randy page of my website.

Inside the Classroom, Outside the Box
Using Google Docs to go Paperless
Flipped Learning

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Digital Classroom Environments

Over the past several years digital classrooms have grown at a tremendous rate.  Ten years ago it was not very common for anyone to take an online course and now there are millions of people across our planet taking online courses every day.  The pedagogy of online courses has evolved from a course where a student listens to a lecture and completes assignments to courses that have students interacting with instructors and each other in a wide variety of ways.  We have gone from live classes only, to choosing between live and online classes and today we even have a third option.  We can take classes live, online or in an blended environment.  The tools educators and schools use in order to provide online and blended courses have expanded and there are several different options for providing a online or blended class.

As I have explored different digital classroom environments over the past few years, I have noticed a fundamental shift between digital course software that has been around for many years (such as BlackBoard and Moodle) and newer digital environments (Edmodo and Schoology).  The software that has been around for many years seems to have a connection with a more traditional style of education.  They are simply digital versions of a traditional classroom.  The educators control what is going on in the room, share documents with students, hold discussion with students and provide a space for students to turn in home work and check their grades.  I am not stating that these programs are bad or inappropriate, I am simply stating that they are traditional.  Personally I believe we need non-traditional online options for classes to fit our modern day non-tradtional classroom.  This is why I have turned to Schoology.

If you haven't seen Schoology, you's just plain cool.  Schoology was built in a fashion similar to Facebook and is very easy for anyone to navigate.  It allows for students or teachers to form groups, connect their learning to Google Docs, hold a wide variety of discussions (including adding audio and video in the enterprise version) as well as a great quizzing module.  More impressive than all of this is the fact that my teachers can be introduced to Schoology and in less than an hour they are experts.  (ok, they aren't experts in using Schoology, but they feel like they are). My educators have not gone through the stressful process of trying to understand how to navigate through an online classroom system such as BlackBoard or Moodle.  They are using an environment that seems, at least, vaguely familiar and comfortable.  Schoologys interface is laid out in a way that makes sense in our modern world.

As our students have been introduced to Schoology, there have been very few cries for help.  Students have enjoyed the discussion board and love the idea of making their own social groups within Schoology.  Educators love the ease and versatility of the discussion boards and the quiz module.  My IT person loves how easy it is to adjust the settings to allow everyone to do everything for their classrooms.  Overall, it's a win win situation.

Let's look at it from this point of view.  My spanish teachers have been searching for a way to use audio more within their classrooms. We have tried, with varying degrees of success, VoiceThread.  This has helped, but was just different enough from everything else they do, that my spanish teachers would get lost or confused.  They needed a SIMPLE solution.  The Schoology discussion board is just what the Education Technology person ordered.  It is easy enough for the adults and provides the authentic learning experiences students need.  The fact that this discussion board ties directly to the student calendar and grade book is simply icing on the cake, and I love icing.

Although I tout about Schoology, it is not the only game on the block with this more modern look at the classroom environment.  One comparable, and popular, program is Edmodo.  Other programs worth checking out are: EduOnGo and Udutu.

If you know of any other modern digital classroom environment, I'd love to hear about them.  You can contact me through my website at

Thursday, December 13, 2012

School Versus the "Real World"

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How many times have you heard someone in a school say something like "When you get into the real world..."  How many times have you said that?  I've been thinking about this statement a lot lately.  I've said it many times over the years and it's a true statement.  School is, in a sense, practice for the world outside of our environment.  It's a place where students are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.  A place where students can gain the base skills they will need in order to survive and thrive throughout the rest of their lives.  So why do we do things in schools that are only relevant at school?

I walked into a classroom the other day and noticed the students had created these beautiful tri-fold presentation board presentations.  For the most part, it was easy to see the main idea of the presentation and to understand what the creator was trying to say.  But why tri-fold presentation boards?  Where else do you see these outside of school?  Why not find more modern and authentic ways for students to demonstrate knowledge, teach each other and express their thoughts?  I thought I would focus this blog post on that very concept.  Below you will find a variety of ideas on how students can express their knowledge and thoughts.  Some ideas are iPad specific and some are not.

  1. Create a video - This idea has been around for years now, and it's a good idea.  There are some very simple ways students can create videos to show or experience knowledge.
    1. Use a web cam to record them selves inside of iMovie or Windows Movie Maker (Mac or PC) (free)
    2. Compile images and create voice overs using iMovie (Mac), Windows Movie Maker (PC), PhotoStory (PC), iMovie app (iPad) (all free)
    3. Use an interactive whiteboard app such as Explain Everything or Doceri in order to record videos and quickly and easily publish them to YouTube. (iPad) (4.99)

  2. Create a visual/textual story - There are a wide variety of software applications and apps that allow teachers and students to create visually and textually appealing stories.  Here are some of them.
    1. Comic life (PC, Mac, iPad) is a great way to allow students to have a lot of fun while learning and teaching using images and text.  (4.99 - iPad, 29.99 mac/pc)
    2. Remarks - A student can use remarks to combine images, drawings and text.  This work can then be shared as a PDF document through email, Google Drive or DropBox. (iPad)(1.99)
    3. MindMeister (Mind mapping) - MindMeiser is an online mind mapping application (and an iPad app) where students can create mind maps and presentations.  Students can also collaborate and peer edit these works.  The free version allows up to three mind maps, and the use of online images. (free and paid versions)
    4. Photostory (PC) - An easy to use windows program that allows students to create an automated slide show that includes images, voice overs and sound tracks.  Each image is timed automatically to the voice over attached to it.(free)

  3. Podcasting - Producing an audio program can be a wonderful way for students to express themselves, teach concepts to other and participate in modern digital communications and discourse.  There are many different services out there, both free and pay, that can be used, but ultimately the only things you need are recording devices, microphones and imagination.  Here are some of the ways I have seen students record themselves.
    1. Audacity - An amazing free program with many robust features.  It's very simple to use (I've used it with second grade students), but have the power of many audio recording programs that can cost up to $100. (Mac, PC) (free)
    2. Audio Memos - An easy to use app on the iPad where students can record themselves and critique their own work. (0.99)
    3. Garage Band - Another wonderful program that kids and adults love to use.  If you want to  have background music playing on your podcast, this is the one to use!  (Mac, iPad) (free)

  4. Power Pointish presentations - Of course there is always Power Point and Keynote, but there are many many more options on how to present information.  Some are strictly lecture based and some allow for more presenter audience interaction.  Here are a few.
    1. Explain Everything - A presenter can create a PowerPoint type presentation with the added twist that things on the screen may be moved manually and the presenter can write directly on the screen during the presentation.  The presentation can also be recorded live and easily sent to youtube afterward. (free)(iPad)
    2. MindMeister - This is wonderful mind mapping software (iPad friendly) that also allows the user to turn the mind map into a presentation similar to a Prezi.  The iPad app is still missing a few of MindMeisters great features, but they are working on it. (free version and pay version)
    3. Prezi - Prezi has changed the standard for presentations.  The creator can make wonderful animated presentations that can stand on their own or be guided by the presenter.  You can now create a Prezi using their app, but not all of the features are available that way....yet. (free version and pay version)

  5. Interactive Whiteboards - There are an enormous amount of interactive whiteboard apps for the iPad and they all have different strengths and weaknesses.  They all will allow you to add images and text to a screen as well as provides the ability to write on top of everything.  The largest differences are in how these apps allow you to share your files from these apps.  Personally, I like to use DropPox or Google Drive, but there are other options.  Here are some of the most popular ones I know of: (all free)(all iPad)
    1. Explain Everything
    2. Screen Chomp
    3. Doceri
    4. Educreations
    5. ShowMe

  6. Mind Maps - Mind maps are a great way to help students organize their thoughts, connect thoughts and share their thoughts with others.  Some mind map programs can also be turned into more interactive presentations.  Some offer the ability to share mind maps with others (besides just using email or iTunes) and some don't.  Some are specific to the iPad and some are not.  Here is a list of mind map apps I have seen and like.
    1. MindMeister (free version and pay version)(iPad and laptop/desktop)
    2. Mindomo (free version and pay version)(iPad and laptop/desktop)
    3. iThoughtsHD (free)
    4. DropMind (free version and pay version)(iPad and laptop/desktop)
What ideas do you have?  What kind of authentic presentation experience does your school provide for students?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  If you would like to see more resources for students and educators, please visit my website.