May 29, 2015

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Beyond the Diorama: Punch Up Presentations | Tech Tidbits

Dragon DioramaDo you remember making dioramas in elementary school? I know that things are very different now, but I still have students using ancient tools instead of using techniques that can show a deeper understanding of what they are studying.

Powerpoint is second nature to my students, as they probably started using it in second grade! They recently graduated to Prezi, but its overuse, and rollercoaster transitions, is making my teachers sick! They are asking for the next best thing.

There are so many resourceful ways to do multimedia presentations now, folks need to pay attention. In my research and trials, there are many tools that educators should explore. is a great resource initially designed for the business market, but it can work remarkably well for the education field. Available for handheld devices and online, this tool allows you to upload video on one side of the screen and PowerPoint, PDF’s or even SlideShare on the other side. At a recent in-service I taught, one elementary teacher thought it would be the perfect match for her beginning-of-the-year student writing samples. Students already read their work aloud but now it can be displayed while they narrate. What a great artifact to show parents at back-to-school night! I can see teary-eyed parents basking in pride as their child performs their personal narrative. has just published an application and upgrade that strengthens its utility. Thinglink has been a nice tool that adds text and hyperlinks on to images, à la Jennifer LeGarde in her April Librarian Month page. But now you can also place video pop-ups on the image, and a new app has been released for handheld devices. This is going to be a great tool for my library orientation. I’ll take a picture of my library and insert tags and videos explaining the resources available, such as the location of fiction, the short story collection, the computer lab, etc., along with the rules of engagement. Thinglink also tracks the number of user “hovers” and clicks so you can measure how effective it is.

PopcornmakerPerhaps the coolest tool of the season is Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker.  You can download videos and edit and manipulate them using this online application to layer text pop-ups, Google maps, Wikipedia pages and other very interactive additions. Users may find it a more complex, but the end product is really worth it.

Teachers and students need to take advantage of new multimedia tools that make it easy to create presentations that are both strong and show the depth of our students’ learning. Summer is the perfect time to get acquainted with a few of these resources and enhance our teacher toolboxes.

Phil Goerner is teacher librarian at Silver Creek High School, Longmont, CO.

See also The Best Powerpoint Alternatives for Creating Great Presentations.

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  1. Thanks Phil for writing about Checkout this page full of presentations created by 8th graders

    I am founder & CEO of 9Slides and would be happy to get connected with any teacher or student who would like to explore and/or talk to us about our offering. My email is

    Ruchit Garg