SlideIdea…Not Just Your Ordinary Slide!

My last post was on do’s and don’ts for creating presentations. As I wrote the post, I came across a new tool that I love!  It is SlideIdea. It is currently an iPad app and enables users to easily create beautiful slides or import from existing slides.

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“SlideIdea offers an in-app widget store where users can seamlessly browse and download the widgets they’re looking for. Additionally, SlideIdea offers free and professionally designed templates to help you cut design-time in half.” (SlideIdea)

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The transition templates are unique and engaging. “Say goodbye to complicated audio-slide recording software. SlideIdea makes it easy to record, publish, and share your very own SlideCasts. Simply record your speech while you present, then with the touch of a button, publish your SlideCast directly to your SlideCast webpage. To top it all off – SlideIdea provides every user a free personal SlideCast webpage for easy sharing and hosting.”

I admit – I enjoyed the new templates and transitions…but that’s not what caught my eye. It wasn’t until I used 3 fingers to swipe to bring up the whiteboard integration tool. This is what made SlideIdea stand out from some of the other presentation tools!

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Simply click the word “whiteboard” and the screen transforms to an interactive whiteboard:

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It is simple! Just project your presentation through the projection system/Apple TV, use 3 fingers to swipe to the interactive whiteboard, and when you are done writing, drawing, or whatever else you want to do, simply click the back arrow and it will bring you back to the last page of your presentation! Now that is sweet!

Although SlideIdea is currently only available for an iPad or Windows 8, they will be coming out with Android and smartphone apps in the near future:

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Do I or Don’t I? Powerful Presentations.


Here is a simple list of Do’s and Don’ts for creating presentations…


  • Create a .pdf version of your file as a backup.
  • Be prepared for formatting changes. Your presentation may appear different on a different computer .
  • Print out your slide outline in case you have technical difficulties.
  • Use a 36 or larger point font.
  • Use easy to read fonts…remember…many may need to be seen from the back of the room!
  • Use bullet points. Break up the information – do not write out entire paragraphs unless it is a quote. Keep the number of bullets to 5.
  • Keep the number of words in a bullet to 10.
  • Use consistent transitions.
  • Use quick transitions (don’t choose the “slow” transition).
  • Keep your colors consistent, fonts consistent, background consistent!
  • Limit the amount of material.
  • Display images.
  • Use it to facilitate note-taking and bring structure to the lecture.
  • Graphically represent concepts.
  • Convey passion and emotion with your voice! Walk around the room.
  • Get a wireless presenter so that you may step away from the podium.
  • Make contact with your audience.
  • Try telling stories.


  • Do not use light colored fonts.
  • Do not use patterned backgrounds.
  • Use a font size smaller than 36.
  • Write too much information.
  • Use the publisher powerpoint slides without viewing first. Are they really what you want to use? Do they contain the necessary information?
  • Do not use out-dated material.
  • Do not use only slides. Non-stop slides can be boring. Interrupt the material with discussion questions and activities.
  • Do not overuse animations.
  • Do not read word for word without paraphrasing or elaborating.
  • Do not put too much information on a slide. Sometimes less is more.
  • Do not be tied to the front of the room.
  • Do not clash colors. Do they work together?
  • Do not use slide transition sounds unless there is a specific reason you need it.

Finally, try something new!

Visit:  Haiku Deck, PowToon, Prezi, Slides, SlideRocket, Slides, Doceri, SlideShark, SlideIdea

*photo credit:

Reaching Introverted Students

Last week I attended the Global Leadership Summit and it was, as usual, amazing. One speaker I thoroughly enjoyed was Susan Cain, author of Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.   Yes, I am an introvert. I prefer to be alone and although I love collaborating, I do my best work when I am by myself. I get terrified talking in front of groups. Two days ago I spoke at our faculty retreat on the subject Inspiring Learning by Empowering Students and I spent the weekend dreading how I would get through it. Through the grace and power of God, I did~! I find that if I visualize what I want to do beforehand, that helps. Our faculty knows that I walk around each day, at some point, to connect with others around campus. Believe me, this is not in my nature. I have to force myself to go out and talk to new people. It is not my comfort level!

Many of our students are introverts. In fact, it may be as many as 50%.

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(Sorry, Susan…I am not an artist! You are much prettier than this note!)

How can technology help introverts? I can think of many ways but I want to share just two:

Moodle Discussion Board! (or use of LMS discussion board posts)

I am specifying Moodle simply because our university uses Moodle. However, there are many other platforms that may be used such as Edmodo, Canvas, Blackboard, etc.  Why use discussion board posts when students can have a discussion in class? (Did you read the title? smile) — to help reach our introverted students. Students may not be as apt to speak up in class and more apt to have a deeper discussion using a forum post. Allow for different discussion formats in your class and try out using a discussion/forum post at least a few times in the semester if you have the tools available to you!


As a Google apps school, we have EASY access to Google sites. A site can be created with just a few clicks and students may use it to blog about any question or topic. Try having them research a topic of interest in your content area and teach the class about it through a blog post! Google sites allows for privacy control so the site may be shared with just the instructor, the school, or the world. We were discussing at our retreat the fact that many students do not read their text books. How about having them blog about each of their reading assignments? They can write about what stood out to them the most, state their opinion, or even ask questions of their peers.

Student Engagement Winner!

Two weeks ago I offered a giveaway for a $10 Starbucks or Peet’s card to one random person.  Congratulations goes out to Carol P. in Florida! I wanted to find out how others keep students engaged in their classrooms because it consistently is a hot topic among educators.  Here are some of the ideas shared:

One thing I found successful for engaging students was using an app on the iPads where students would record their reports. I would give the assignment and have students research and write the necessary information. Then I would have them respond to a prompt regarding their research and record it on the iPad. (There are numerous apps for student recording, I like Face talk where you take a picture and the mouth moves while students talk, or Photospeak … Students would practice then record their responses. The iPads would be rotated to a new student that would listen to the report and have to write 2-3 questions about the topic reported. The recording their voice was exciting as well as coming up with questions about someone else s report. The students were excited that they did not have to stand in front of the entire class, yet they could record their report and quietly share with another student. This was an activity they asked to do over and over again! (Libby Jacobs)

Libby mentioned a tool called “Photospeak” which I decided to download and try. It is a free download on iTunes. It was easy to use…and I admit a little freaky! It turns any picture into 3D and then allows you to put a voice with it. The image will blink, speak, and move. I used an older photo of my son and tested it out. I showed it to him and his response was, “Ew! That’s freaky and I don’t like it!”  Now, by “I don’t like it” he wasn’t talking about the program – he was talking about his own picture coming to life and talking. He didn’t like the picture! I think it would definitely be an interesting app to use in the classroom.

One of my favorite activities was with my 10-12 grade Introduction to Business students during the Marketing Unit. They needed to learn the 7 functions of marketing so I took them on a QR code scavenger hunt. At each stop (there were 7 of them) they used their phones or iPad to scan a QR code that took them to an article, short video, or slideshow providing them with information on the 7 functions. The stops were in 7 different locations around the school. I could have done the same thing in the classroom as whole group instruction but this method of getting them to get up and move around kept them engaged in the content. I must admit it was a lot more work to create but it was so worth it and will be easy to update with new & current information as the years move on. (Sara Bird)

I love Sara’s idea because getting students up and moving helps with engagement. I know students would enjoy bringing out their cell phones and scanning a code to watch a video clip around campus.

I have encouraged students to create videos when doing a final project for our human body unit. I have encouraged them to create a commercial on either the effects of drugs and alcohol or a nutritional video. Last year I had a student use his lego people to accomplish this. So fun! I also had a couple of students create a radio ad instead of videos. Another project was having students video tape their Rube Goldberg project – this was fun as well! (Jennifer T)

Our faculty just finished another digital storytelling course. We used WeVideo to create our final videos. It is free and user friendly. If students have a tablet there are several apps that create videos such as Explain Everything. How about just using the video capabilities on a smartphone? They upload easily to YouTube. Podcasts (radio ads) can be created using Audacity, Podbean, and Podcast (available on the iPhone).

My very simple tech idea is useful for language teaching or any sort of vocabulary learning. The students actually told me about Study Blue, a phone app where they can enter information and review it. At the beginning of each chapter, I ask the most advanced students in the class, typically quickly done with class work, to open a page accessible to the whole class and type in the vocabulary list for that unit. That way everyone can memorize the words at their own pace using the app, and the kids who would be very challenged to even type in the words correctly do not have to deal with the data entry part, just the word recognition part. It is a great way to differentiate learning the same material. (Margaret H.)

I have written many times about StudyBlue because it is an amazing app. Read more about it HERE and HERE.

My favorite is to use videogames in Higher Ed English comp courses to engage students with ideas of learning, learning assessment and disciplinary knowledge. My favorite is Vampire Physics on With most students familiar with at least 2 different vampire mythologies, this helps open the discussion about disciplinary knowledge. I have a smart classroom, so I project the game and ask volunteers to play for us, while everyone adds help, questions, ideas about learning, etc. while we play. (ngrahampfannen)

I know that gaming is becoming more and more popular in education. The Awesome Power of Gaming in Higher Education is a good read if you are more interested in the topic!

In an upper division course, I taught with only two students. I had them take turns lecturing/giving presentations on the material instead of me lecturing the whole time. It allowed them to practice presenting mathematical content and also allowed them to exercise their board use technique. Finally, I could conduct informal tests of their understanding of the material they were presenting by asking them to clarify or expand statements or examples. (BWagner)

Giving students control of the content can be a great motivator. As stated in my original post, I know my son would love doing this! (I think he secretly wants to be a teacher and just won’t admit it yet!)

As an ELA middle school teacher, I used many techniques for both the content and context of our learning. One of the favorites of the students was Morphology Jeopardy, which was done first with teams using their notes they had written throughout the year in their Interactive Student Notebooks (fantastic tool!) The Powerpoint had images within each of the categories, and the students had to correctly identify them. They were especially challenged by the Greek vs. Latin section, but loved the format for review. With a few tweaks, the Powerpoint became the final quiz. (thouchard)

When I taught 4th grade, I often used PowerPoint Jeopardy. Students loved it! Yes, I believe it could be used in almost any grade level. Adults enjoy Jeopardy too, right? This site has some Jeopardy templates. Give it a try!

Finally, Jenice sent this in:

My kids enjoy teachers that use a mix of technology in class. Watch a video to hook them into a topic or have them do presentations in different formats. As a parent I appreciate when teachers use technology to reach out the parents, help us find the information to assist our kids with homework. We use quizlet a lot and thanks to wjuedtech PowToon has become a fun way for my kids to do presentations! Thank You (Jenice Sabra)

I’m happy to hear that your kids benefitted from PowToons! I hope they “wow-ed” their teachers.

Response Systems without the Clicker

Clicker systems are a great way to gather student responses. However, it requires either the school or the student to purchase a clicker. There are many free tools (or low cost tools) available today without having to purchase a clicker.

Poll Everywhere

Ask your audience a question and allow them to respond using a web browser, Twitter, or mobile phone. This flexibility of choice is nice! Poll Everywhere is free and easy to use. There are advanced features, that have an additional fee, such as grading, attendance, and response moderation.


Socrative is another web-based student response system. Run quick questions, quizzes, and even games. Socrative Videos is a great source for learning more about all the features. Students may respond using laptops, smartphones, or tablets. Get instant feedback AND reports.


GoSoapBox is another free web-based clicker tool. One nice feature that GoSoapBox offers is the confusion barometer:

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Students simply indicate whether they “get it” or not. Create real-time polls and quizzes and like the other tools, download the reports.

There are many more tools out there. I haven’t tried them all – but feel free to explore them until you find one that works for you! I’d love to hear your thoughts on student response systems and web-based clickers!



Learning Catalytics (free for instructors, costs for students)


**NEW addition (Thanks to Derek’s comment!)  Kahoot!


It’s About TIME

Have you ever wanted an intelligent time assistant? Someone that could schedule events for you and suggest how to use your time wisely? Enter TIMEFUL!

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I downloaded Timeful last week to give it a try and found that I am thoroughly enjoying the app! Timeful is much more than a calendar system. It is an intelligent time assistant. All of your calendars, to-do lists, and habits appear in one app. Create habits that you want repeated daily, weekly, or monthly and Timeful will schedule them into your day for you. For example, if you want to exercise 3 times a week, it will schedule it in according to your preferences. The more you use the app, the more “intelligently” it will respond to your preferences. Of course, if you don’t like the time it suggests, you may move it.

Timeful categorizes items 3 ways – “events”, “to-do’s”, and “habits”. Events are fixed such as a meeting at 3:00. To-do’s are things you want to get done and check off your list. Habits are good practices you want to form over time. Begin by setting up your preferences such as work hours, work days, sleep hours, and when you feel you are most productive. These preferences will be used for your scheduling. “The system also makes personalized suggestions based on your behavior. If you schedule tasks and habits at specific hours, Timeful will learn those preferences. For example, if you like to practice Spanish at 7:15 pm on weekdays, it’ll start suggesting “Practice Spanish” at or around that time. Muy bien, ¿no?”

Oh – and did I mention that it is free? A personal assistant – and free. Great! Hope you enjoy Timeful!



I recently won a couple of giveaways…fun!  I enjoy winning. Do you? Well, I decided to have a giveaway of my own to not only drive traffic to WJU EdTech Blog but to also gather information on how others engage students in their classroom. I will be speaking on the topic in the future, and would love to hear what others do to engage and motivate students.

I will be giving away a $10 Starbucks card OR $10 Peet’s card (your choice).

You will need to CLICK HERE to access the giveaway page, then come back to this site to comment. Thanks and good luck!

Engage Your Students with Choice

One strategy teachers can use to engage students is to offer them a sense of choice. I learned this early on with parenting and teaching K-12. For example, as a parent I could offer a choice, “Would you rather vacuum or take out the garbage?” When I taught 4th grade, I would often teach units such as “Oceanography” and offer choices for how they would present their work…group poster, act out a news report, create a mini video, etc. Offering choices to our students offers them a sense of control. Students who believe they have control tend to be more motivated. By offering choice, students choose what they believe they can achieve. This will increase motivation.

Kevin Perks’ article Crafting Effective Choices to Motivate Students discusses the kinds of choices we should offer students such as choosing groups and how they will complete a given task. He also suggests to offer a minimal amount of choices. The list should be short, meet with your approval, and meet the intended learning goal.

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Here is a screenshot from one of the courses I teach in the education department. Notice there is an assignment, then a menu of choices and an optional dessert. I realize not all students will “want” dessert – but dessert is usually really good, right? The “dinner menu” offers 3 choices for the assignment…one that involves sketchnoting , one that adds to their resource binder (a required project), and one that adds to their own professional development plus it will go in the resource binder. All three choices will help them explore reading and writing workshops. I am allowing them a choice how to complete the exploration. The student who likes to take notes on reading assignments and is a strong visual learner will enjoy the sketchnoting. The student that wants to get ahead on the final project will appreciate adding to the resource binder. These printouts can be used later on in the teaching career. The student that is tech-savvy and enjoys social media will enjoy the Pinterest assignment. It also helps them complete the final project and add to ideas for their future teaching career – thus adding validity of future value to the assignment.

As the instructor, have I added to my own work load by having to grade 3 different types of assignments? Perhaps. But to me it really doesn’t matter. What matters most is what will benefit the student and I believe that choice is an important aspect.

As an elementary teacher, I often used the “Tic-Tac-Toe” board assignment. I fill in the spots with choices, and students have to choose 3 to complete – in a row or diagonal.

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Here are a few more resources you may enjoy regarding student choice:

Guidelines for Offering Choices

Supporting Autonomy in the Classroom

When Choice Motivates and When it Does Not

Motivating Students to Learn

Liven Up Your Lessons by Offering Choice


Stay on Top with ClassOwl

“Imagine if YOUR students always came to class prepared.” ~ClassOwl

I recently ran across a new tool called ClassOwl.  It was created by a group of Stanford sophomores desiring to improve the challenge of  organizing class deadlines and assignments. “Our  vision is that students will come to school knowing exactly what they need to do for class, and as a result come engaged, prepared, and ready to learn. By becoming better learners, we envision that every student will make the most of their education!” Isn’t that what we want for our students? Yes! I was able to get on the “early bird list” as an instructor and am excited to test it out in my courses.  As an instructor, I signed up and input my class deadlines and due dates. It was a bit of prep work, but if students enjoy it, it will be worth my time. The interface is clean and easy to use.

One nice feature of ClassOwl is the ability to update assignments easily and instantly inform students of the change or update. “Whether  your students are looking at their phone, online, or any other device — you’ll be able to reach them instantly. You can update assignments or due dates, and students will immediately receive a push notification letting them know of the change right then and there. A great reminder for students who missed the announcement in class or for last minute changes, ClassOwl keeps your students up-to-date.”  There is a comment functionality for students so that they may easily ask questions regarding the assignment. Best of all – it is free!

I will be interested to see how many of my students will utilize this tool. I will offer it – but not as a requirement. We do use Moodle and all of our deadlines are on Moodle. Some students may not want to view the assignments on another tool or app. However, others may like the ability to have push notifications for due dates. They may also enjoy the comment/question feature. So, I’ll test it out!  I see the REAL advantage with entire schools using the tool because students can see all the due dates for ALL classes in one calendar. That would be nice for many students!

10 Things Every Teacher Should be able to do on Google Docs


This blog was written by Indiana Jen. We have Google training on campus tomorrow and I couldn’t have said this any better myself. Thanks, Jen, for the post! I am sharing with my readers! Enjoy. Pam.

Originally posted on Indiana Jen:

Google Docs is a powerful word processing tool that many schools have adopted. As it’s similar to Microsoft Word and other word processing tools, most of its features are intuitive to use. However, in addition to completing many of the functions of a traditional word processor, Google Docs provides even more capabilities that can be invaluable to educators. Here are ten tricks that can make your life easier with Google Docs:

Share & Collaborate with Google Docs

One of the most powerful features of Google Docs is that you can share and collaborate on documents with others. Think about all the times where you work on something at home and then email it to yourself at school or put it on a thumb drive. How about the challenge of students who “forgot their essays” or couldn’t print their homework? Not only does Drive solve this, but it also opens up…

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