I can remember back to my own school project days and laboring over how make my Powerpoint presentations creative and fun without losing the focus of the content. There was only so much I could do to jazz it up! Don't get me started on the tri-fold poster boards...one handwriting mistake with that Sharpie and it was all over!
This past weekend, as I sat down with my second grader to work on her own presentation assignment, I realized how lucky students nowadays are to have options that allow for individuality and differentiation based on preferences and learning styles. More teachers are allowing for kids to choose the modalities that speak to their own learning styles and kids are actively engaged in low-tech and high-tech presentation tools!
As curricular demands increase and the focus shifts to integration and application skills, kids are being expected to show their thinking in new ways like digital storytelling, video or audio-supported presentations, interactive digital posters, and even published work!
In my own search, I found so many great tools that allow students to present materials using a "universal design to learning." We'll talk more about what UDL means, but keep in mind that while these tech tools are beneficial for most, they become "assistive technology" tools when the differently-abled student NEEDS the features in order to participate or demonstrate skills.
Universal Design for Learning
UDL: If you're in the field of education, you likely (hopefully!) have heard this acronym in relation to how we approach accessibility and instruction. The guidelines of UDL advise flexible learning environments that can accommodate for learning differences. Basically, the "what" "how" and "why" of teaching and learning should be flexible based on an individual student's needs/strengths. We don't all think or learn the same, so why should we expect our students to all do the same to show what they know?
Because of this educational mind shift, the number of apps and cross-platform software programs available to students and teachers is growing as an amazing rate! Whether you're using Glogster to create interactive posters that replace the old-school trifolds, Educreations to give a voice and video to your content, LiveBinders to collect sources online and organize them into convenient digital "binders," or iBrainstorm to organize your pre-writing ideas into a graphic organizer, there are some amazing tools to explore!
Check out Teach Thought's website for their awesome video reviews and find the tool that works for your learning style. If you're a teacher, send us an email with your favorite digital presentation tools for students to show what they know!