Empower Students to Present Creatively!

Empower Students’ Creativity through a Variety of Web 2.0 tools resources and publishing.

Back in the day when I was in school, I was sometimes assigned to conduct research in many classes, demonstrating my knowledge gained through giving a speech, (or presentation) in front of class, or writing an essay. There were not many choices then. Sometimes we could choose between hand written or typed work. Speeches were allowed some variety in “visual props” that were used, utilizing posters, overheads, or the giant document projector that crowded the front of the room.

The options grew once schools had the power of computer labs; PowerPoint became the focus of contemporary, professional presentations. PowerPoint took center stage for a solid 10 years in the classroom, making teachers feel they were doing students justice, offering this computer support. We all started to Jazz up our PowerPoints with video and hyperlinks. Slideshows got longer, more wordy… and the presenter often became the narrator, reading each slide because all the thoughts were so well prepared, and people in the back row could not see the 18 pt font in shadow italics.

Many of our students  love to experiment with a number of new technology tools  available to the.   Because teachers have not had the opportunity to understand the 21st C learning shift, they may assign students to do a presentation using  only PowerPoint.  Sometimes a student may inquire about using Prezi, or another web tool, and the teacher, not realizing the options would  dismiss the idea of  choice. Why?… Maybe the teacher intimidated by the prospect of new technology he does not know… or maybe he does not realize there are other viable, respectful ways to present a speech…(Assuming this presentation objective was not relative to learning PowerPoint). I  do find times where PowerPoint is the best choice, but there are many more opportunities to use  new alternatives as well.  By allowing our students the opportunity to meet learning targets through multiple tools and resources, we encourage 21st C learning and sharing for all. 

Over the last few years, options beyond PowerPoint have grown substantially, offering opportunities for students to present their knowledge in many unique ways. Teachers only need to grade the student relative to a rubric based on the subject matter, offering and encouraging options to PowerPoint.  By expecting students to meet the needs of the content within their research, yet allowing students to choose how to express their final project, we create a learning opportunity for all.  Students who are naturally interested in trying new web tools, should be offered the latitude to attempt this integration into their projects. By offering this latitude, we empower students to share and teach us and their peers more than just the content, demonstrating we are all lifelong learners.

I’m sure many students will opt to use the PowerPoint, but some will venture out, using different engaging tools like Prezi, knovio, iMovie, MovieMaker, Google Chrome SlideRocket or iPad Publishing through apps like Explain Everything.

Students should be encouraged to seek out more than one dimension of presentation, incorporating other iPad apps, or web tools like Flip Cameras, Animoto, PicCollage, Flikr, Xtranormal, Green Screen or JellyCam stop action video, which can enhance and personalize their projects further. Integrating resources and videos from Discovery Education Streaming will further enhance both the initial research as well as the final presentation product.

My students are directed to create a web 2.0 production focused on “Closing the STEM Gap” Their rubric clearly defines the expectations:
• Introduce the scientific application, presenting information about scientific topic
• Explain the mathematical foundation providing an example or two.
• Show a demonstration of the scientific application
• Explain 2 examples of the scientific calculation.
• Find a Discovery Education Streaming element to reinforce your project, including a link to the resource.

The project design is meant to encourage 21st Century STEM Publishing.  Each project must stand on its own with no presenter needed because the best projects are published on our public wiki, becoming a resource for teachers and students from around the world.  Students are allowed to use any web 2.0 tools and iPad apps to accomplish this task. Students are exposed to the many options above over time, so as to not overwhelm them.  Students are encouraged to share new web 2.0 tools and iPad apps as they discover them.

Here are some examples of student presentations incorporating a variety of Web 2.0 tools and resources including Discovery Education Streaming:

Brandy uses flip video, Animoto, Prezi and iPad Explain Everything App to explain mathematics of pendulums She adds an extension to Discovery Education Resources!

Trevyn uses Prezi and iPad ShowMe, iPad Star Walk, and Pic Collage to explain Scientific Notation and dimensional analysis.  Trevyn was happy with using show me because the videos came out so well, but when he saw what other kids had made with Explain Everything, he wanted to use that app too.  Trevyn is about to redo his show me spots using Explain everything so he can republish.

Maggie uses Prezi, flip video, iMovie, iPad EasyChart, Discovey Education Streaming and Explain Everything for presenting slope of a line  relative to density.

Matt uses Prezi, Animoto,  YouTube, Flip Video,JellyCam Stop Action,  and Discovery Education Streaming to present inverse variation for pressure and volume.

These and other great projects are now available to you on  our wiki : STEMagic WI . This link takes you directly to the current 2012 projects.  Surf other pages on the wiki for specific STEM areas.

Surprisingly, my students were a bit intimidated at first, as many past projects  in other classes were more constricted and prescribed. The actual opportunity to be creative seems to intimidate them more than the web tools!  Part of becoming a 21st Century Learner, is taking the risks of exploring the resources and attempting the web tools.  Once students share what new publishing tools they integrated, the other students are motivated to attempt those new engaging tools too!

Empower Your Students to Present Creatively!


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  1. brad said:

    Great job, Peg! Web 2.0 to the rescue. Many of my high school students are also a bit timid when given options to go beyond the tried, true and very wordy slideshow. I try to incentivize them to be willing to take the risks with something new.

  2. diane peters said:

    I start with PPT, then show other options. I did direct teaching of how & then let them go as along as they fulfilled the assignment of communication- what they have learned & what we should know about the subject.
    Don’t forget Glogster and Voice Thread.

  3. Peg Hartwig said:

    Update: Trevyn has embedded all \show me\ videos directly into his prezi. The final product is quite impressive!

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