Westward to Equality: Frontier Life and the Suffrage Movement

This semester my EdMethods students used Microsoft Sway for their final lesson design projects. This document-based lesson by Jordan Bonnell explores the essential question:

Did the Western Migration in the mid 19th century draw women to fight for equality as they obtained more responsibility?

~ Jordan Bonnell

For a direct link to the Sway click here
More lessons in this series.
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American Reactions to the Vietnam War

This semester my EdMethods students used Microsoft Sway for their final lesson design projects. This document-based lesson by Nick Krautscheid explores American reactions to the Vietnam War through a variety of source material – popular music, news coverage, letters and videos.

For a direct link to the Sway click here
More lessons in this series.
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What Do You See: Visual Thinking Strategies in Action

I’m pleased to be offering a pair of workshops in Eugene Ore this month on how to enhance instruction using visual thinking strategies. (hosts: Oregon Writers Project / STELLAR.)

In the workshops I will guide participants through practical examples of:

  • VTS as a model for inquiry learning
  • Teaching inquiry with documents
  • Blending visual & critical thinking with literacy

Student critical thinking skills can be activated when students are guided in close reading of visual documents. Key questions include:

  1. What does it (image) say?
  2. How does it say it?
  3. What’s it mean to me?

Try it out yourself by comparing these two photographs (How I made this image blend)

I think visual literacy approach has application across the curriculum and grade levels. I’ve included a copy of the presentation handout. What do you see handout 4mb pdf

Here’s some more resources:

  • How I used historical images to guide students through developing summarizing skills. Link
  • Teacher Resource guides from the University of the Arts / Library of Congress Link
  • “Five Card Flickr Stories” A great tool for building and narrating visual stories. Link
  • “Which one does not belong” A growing collection of pattern recognition puzzles Link

How I Turned My Class into an Edcamp

Last week I ran a three-hour intro to edtech class for our incoming cadre of about 40 MAT students. In the past it been done lecture-style, but that's not my thing. As a founding team member of #edcampPDX, I thought why not an edcamp?

We gathered in a large multi-use room and I opened with a few "get-to know-each-other activities" (this cadre has just started this summer). I gave a 30 min demonstration / lecture on "5 ideas for teaching in the digital age." See handout on site.

Summer Edtech Camp

Then I turned the group over to this Google site I had created. I split them into 10 teams and assigned them one of the 10 apps with the following instructions:

Click on the link for your app and you will see a demonstration of the app, a short "how-to" video and links to set up your account. Work with your team to figure out the app, create something using it to share back to the group via this Padlet and be prepared to tell the rest of the group what you liked / disliked about the app and how you could use it in the classroom.

They dug in and all were successful at creating content using their app and gave some "spot -on" critiques of the apps. I closed with a Google form "Exit Ticket" and here's some of their responses to two of the questions:

What's one thing you learned about edtech today?

  • That using technology as a teacher isn't as difficult/scary as I thought.
  • Find ways to embrace tech in the classroom rather than ban it.
  • I learned the importance of "being less helpful."
  • I learned about all these different apps I had never heard about before.
  • I learned about a lot of sites and apps I can apply to education and to also pad my student teaching portfolio.
  • It allows students to create/synthesize content that promotes higher order thinking.
  • That we need to create opportunities to create and not just consume when using technology.
  • There is more technological help out there than I thought.

What's one thing you learned about yourself today?

  • That I'm still intimidated by technology, but less-so now.
  • It takes me a little longer to be creative.
  • I can do more than I thought I could do with technology.
  • I liked being able to engage with site in an interactive way and just messing around with it to figure out how it works.
  • That I can be more techy.
  • I work well in groups of people with similar ideas.
  • That if I don't keep up to date, I'm going to be that teacher that does not know how to operate the projector or future equivalent.
  • That I am capable of using technology and do not need to be afraid of it in my classroom. This will help a lot when it comes to working with students who are technology driven.
  • I was scared to use technology in the classroom before but I realized today it is super easy. I can see myself using way more technology now.
  • I should teach myself more of technology.
  • I thought I wouldn't like using technology in the classroom, mostly because I tend to be technologically challenge, and easily intimidated by it. However, today I learned that I can use lots of these sources. They are not to be feared!
  • I learned that I enjoy working on platforms that allow for multiple people to work on them at once. I found that to be really useful.
  • It takes me longer to figure out technology than my younger peers.
  • I used to think that I needed a tutorial to figure out technology, but I think it is beneficial to just work with the site.

Digital Storytelling with Sway

I’m always on the lookout for tools that make it easy for students to be digital storytellers. I just took Microsoft’s Sway for a test ride and I am impressed. (Sway is part of the Office365 suite and free for students and teachers.)

See student projects made with Sway

Here’s my first creation – “Progress and Poverty in Industrial America.” Direct link to Project.

I found Sway to be very intuitive and I figured it out without much need to go the Help section. I could easily add images, text and variety of digital content from my drive or other external sources. A built in search tools allows users to limit searches to Creative Commons. Once content is selected, the source citation (with link) is automatically added to your creation – a great feature for students working on their digital hygiene skills. 

There are some styling options that let you explore a few different looks. With some trial and error I eventually got the look and interaction I wanted. Sway has a long list of embed options that add external content to it’s native tools. I’ll be exploring those next. 

Sway has built-in collaboration options so teams of creators can work on the same project. Sharing tools make it easy to promote your work across social media and as you can see here – it’s easy to embed your Sway in WordPress. Designers can set permissions to allow viewers to export, duplicate, copy or print. Or set the project to view only. It even has a built in “Accessibility Checker” analyzes your project and shows where alternative text is needed.

Sway projects are responsive and look great on desktop, tablet or smartphone. Android and iOS apps allow you to design or edit via your smartphone. It provides minimal analytics. But one interesting aspect is it sorts your viewers by “Glanced”, “Quick Read” and “Deep Read.”

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