Spice Up an Old Presentation

Welcome! This year I’m excited to be part of the 30 Goals Challenge for Educators. The theme this year is Make The Difference and we are on an amazing world tour. I am your  Inspire Leader for this leg of the journey as we travel to Atlanta, Georgia. I invite you to accomplish the following goal: ‘Spice Up an Old Presentation’’.




Accomplish The Goal

We all have them – those great presentations (PowerPoint, Keynote, etc.) that we made a few years back that we love to use every year. We spent a lot of time on them to get them ‘just perfect’, and we love bringing them back out each year or each semester for our new students to learn from. This year, I am challenging you to spice up your old presentation to give it new life and to use it to add some inspiration and motivation to your students’ learning, no matter what the topic or the course. Some suggestions for giving your presentation a little spring cleaning:


  • Update the images in your presentation – consider adding personal images or infographic-style avatars
  • Choose a new theme with a modern or novel layout that will grab students’ attention
  • Eliminate bullet points (or at least use nifty ones like these stars!)
  • Revise your text to include less words per page, and greater screen space devoted to images
  • Add a link to a video
  • Add a poll from Socrative or another web tool to gather formative assessment data during your presentation
  • Narrate and post your presentation to an online host (SlideShare, YouTube, etc.) so students can view it from any internet-enabled device
  • Make a mini-version of your presentation using a new app or web tool


You certainly don’t have to do all of these steps to a single presentation to spice it up. Any 1 or a combination of these steps will breathe new life  into your old presentation and get you thinking about ways to engage your students with the content. Be sure to check out a list of resources at the end of this post to help you accomplish this challenge.

My Reflection


Taking a critical look at my past work is something that I usually dread and will procrastinate or avoid it if at all possible. However, I have realized that being reflective is an essential part of being an educator. If I don’t seek to constantly improve my pedagogy and my practice, I am doing a great disservice to my students. I only have these students once. They only have one shot at learning in my class. I don’t have time to try it out next year, I need to get started now!

In the past year, I have started using Google Slides as my go-to presentation tool. I love the ease with which I can insert images by url, insert YouTube video, and share with my colleagues. Haiku Deck has also been a favorite of mine. I’ve taken an old Revolutionary War presentation and made a deck with only images and titles. It provided a great conversation starter for my students and they were able to learn from the images and from each other without the screen being cluttered with text.


I’m looking forward to learning from you as you take this challenge – I can’t wait to see all of the great work that you and your students do!


About Atlanta, GA


The Peach State; The Heart of the Deep South; Atlanta goes by many names. A  new one will be added this year – home of the ISTE 2014 conference! I’m excited to welcome educators from around the world to Atlanta, GA. We have amazing food, Southern hospitality, and beautiful, lush landscapes to awe and inspire you. Here are a few of my favorite things and places. I hope you’ll be able to visit us in June for ISTE14!



Piedmont Park, a 189-acre urban park, is located less

than a mile from downtown Atlanta attractions



Mary Mac’s has AMAZING southern food! Be sure to check them out for

the best sweet tea, country-fried teak, and, of course, peach pie!


The fabulous Fox Theater is a favorite Atlanta venue for

concerts, shows, and entertainment of all kinds!


Building a Legacy for Student Work


As I stare at the ever-growing stack of drawings, holiday-themed costruction paper projects, and various other “creations” brought home by my 5-year-old, I can’t help but wonder: what am I going to do with those? Will I still have them in 5 years? 10 years? Will I even be able to find them next year? I would love to tell you that I will keep these safe to give to my kids down the road (like my mom did with my Dukes of Hazzard matchbox cars – THANKS MOM!), but honestly, I’m not sure that I will. Organization isn’t exactly my strong suit. We might move. Maybe a squirrel will get into our attic and rummage through the box I put them in. I’m not really sure at this point what will happen, but it’s not looking good for my son.

But, honestly, I don’t really worry that much about this particular work, this singular year of pre-Kindergarten. I worry more about the bulk of the work he will complete from Kindergarten through 12th grade, the core work of learning that will shape and mold him into the adult he will one day become. And the good news is this: I won’t have to worry about where I put the paper, because the majority of his work will be DIGITAL. That’s right. I’m not sure he will ever know the feeling of carrying a backpack laden with 47 pounds of Middle School textbooks, or figuring out which folder to put Spelling Test #39 in. He will, however, have to deal with managing files, cloud storage,  linking, and  manipulating an embed code. This is where my passion lies. How do we ensure that student digital work is saved, stored, and easily accessible to students & parents for years to come?



Digital portfolios or e-portfolios are rapidly gaining momentum in K-12 as a way to organize, share, and save student work. This year, as we began to discuss how to implement these at my elementary school, we were determined to forge ahead with a solution that could store any kind of student work – whether it be documents, a web link, or an embeddable object. Student documents are erased from their network drives at the end of each school year, and we have yet to embrace a cloud storage solution in my district, so we needed a way to ensure that their work isn’t gone forever. In the past, we copied their Home drives to a CD, then re-loaded that CD at the beginning of the next year. It was a good stopgap measure, but it didn’t do anything to address either web-based student work or our district’s server space issues.

We have chosen Weebly Campus as our platform for our e-Portfolios this year, and I believe that this solution will serve us well in the future. Students put in digital work (document, link, picture, embed code) in a blog format along with a text reflection on the work. This gives students a chance to reflect on the ISTE-S standards and it gives them their own digital workspace to show to parents and friends as well. I’m excited to see what our students will be able to accomplish with their own “websites”, and I believe that it will be another important way for us to tell our story and to better inform parents about the type of digital work that we are doing.

A digital legacy begins this year for 900+ students, and a very special 5-year-old’s will begin next year. Paper-loathing parents everywhere will surely breath a sigh of relief.


How are you preserving student work? Are their blogs/websites password protected? Please share your ideas and experiences with storing and showcasing digital student work in the comments below.




Unlocking the Power of Video

Video Film image

Image courtesy of Mosio for Libraries

Okay, let’s face it: video is not a new medium. From the days of silent film through the late 1960s , it was the sole domain of professionals. Big, bulky, mounted broadcast cameras would clearly not have a place in the home, much less in a classroom. The early 1980s explosion of VHS camcorders firmly placed it in the hands of the public (my mom still has some classic childhood videos of me to prove it!) . But, up until recently, equipment costs, file/data storage, and security concerns have largely kept it out of the hands of students. 

Even today, some schools and districts are slow to embrace the power of student-created (and edited) video? Why? At the elementary level, teachers often cite time concerns and lack of training. Standardized testing and letter/number grade systems increase pressure on teachers to stick with paper-and-pencil assessments. Districts that still rely heavily on networked drives for storage are battling size issues. Cloud storage solutions like Google Drive can open new pathways for students to leverage this medium to showcase their learning, connect with others, and to impact their communities and beyond. Standards-based grading and elimination of NCLB testing mandates would help, too, but I’ll save that for another post.

Today, my 8-year-old and I set out on a Minecraft screencasting mission. He enjoys watching YouTube videos with players demonstrating various aspects of the game, and he was ready to take the step from consumer to creator. Thanks to Air Server, Screencast-o-matic, WeVideo, and some patience from both parties, we were able to get the job done. He really enjoyed being able to create and especially doing the video editing part. Usually these tasks are reserved for middle school and above, but I see no reason that a 2nd or 3rd grader couldn’t use a simple video editor. I hope that you enjoy our production and that it inspires you to take the video plunge with your students!

Click the picture to watch my awesome video!

Click the picture to watch my awesome video!