Keep calm and use technology

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Use technology to problem solve

Image : ClipartPanda

It was the lesson after lunch last Thursday with the year 9s. We had been practising shopping and what to buy in different shops . I then put a conversation from their book up on the board and said I’d give them 15 minutes to look things up they didn’t understand. About 5 minutes into this it was clear they could not do it. First time for everything. This conversation has always come after the other things and been straightforward. Not last week. The students were simply baffled and unable to get a hook into it. It was the last lesson of the week. I did not want them going home for a weekend and thinking French was hard and horrible. We then spent the rest of the lesson learning numbers and shopping vocabulary on their language learning site. Perfect. I had the weekend to solve the problem. I could just leave it. Skip over the conversation and move onto something else. We have the whole French language to learn. Not hard finding something else. No, I decided I would use technology to present the material differently. I set the conversation up one line at a time on Powerpoint slides. Big writing. Dark text on a colourful background. Monday last lesson I started with this. We did the conversation one line at a time. We pronounced it. We worked it out. So far, so good. I had made a list of 40 words of the conversation and put it on their language learning site. They loved it. They spent 20 minutes getting to grips with the vocabulary and were learning it quite quickly. There was a lot for year 9s to learn. We stopped. I put the original conversation up on the board and I played the sound file of it. All eyes were on the board following the conversation. We then went back to our language learning site to do more vocab practice on it. No feeling of failure. No confusion. No disenchantment. I used technology to get them into learning something they had found incomprehensible. Now, next lesson, I can play the conversation, I can get a couple of students to read it out and then we can do our own version of the conversation. Familiarity does not breed contempt. It breeds success. If you are on familiar ground you will take the risks necessary to learn a bit more and push yourself a bit more. These students could have felt like failures but using technology allowed me to refresh and repeat in a way they could understand. I now have a PowerPoint I can dress up even more and make an even better learning tool. Students who were born in 2000 and after like interactive learning. I am learning I have to become part of that as a teacher.

Powerpoint with pizzazz

Lenka is a famous Australian singer. Windows 8 is a much discussed operating system. DoinaK is a very talented and ingenious Powerpoint presenter. When you put these three  elements together you get an amazing Powerpoint presentation. The animation is saved as a Windows Media file (save as….select Windows Media file) and it can then be uploaded as a video to YouTube. You can do it with Keynote and iMovie too.

Change Keynote and Powerpoint presentations into movies

Insert flash files into presentations

Finally solved the flash problem thanks to this video. If I am stuck I always search for a solution or go on YouTube and then, when I am desperate, I launch a query on Twitter. One way or another I solve the problem. So now what you can do is go to the free animated Powerpoint templates at Microsoft and insert the flash files as shown in the video. Ignore the instructions which come on the downloaded Powerpoint templates. It’s a lot simpler now I know how to do it in newer versions of Powerpoint and it means I can put the flash files wherever I want in the presentation. When you download the Powerpoint templates they come with two flash files and you need to put it all in one folder and then insert the files as you wish by following the easy steps in the video. It really will make Powerpoint presentations that little bit more interesting because we live in a visual world.

Classy Powerpoint presentations

VisualBeeI am comfortable making animated presentations in Powerpoint and Keynote and so are my students. I have spent time developing the skills and then  have shared them. Students are used to a moving screen and so when you want to get content across it works really well with something which is animated one way or the other. Not everyone wants to develop the skills but the world is becoming more and more visual. There are lots of things you can do as a teacher so that your students can be enticed into learning with a classy presentation. Obviously there are sites like Presenter Media which offer you subscriptions so you can download pre made animated templates. An example is here on YouTube. I’d want a try before you buy option with anything like that. I tried the Microsoft animated templates and so far I have not made the splash they advertised. More of a belly flop. I can enable nothing. I can change the settings on the developer tab and nothing. They might work in older versions of Powerpoint but newer versions appear to have an issue with Macromedia flash. Maybe Microsoft will put up templates which do work in the newer versions. Maybe not. You should not have to be tech savvy to get them to work. They are still nice templates, though. You can also get really nice templates here:

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Free Powerpoint templates.

I have tried VisualBee, though, and have made such a cute presentation for my year 9s. You sign up to the site and ignore any messages about your username already being used. You then go to Powerpoint on your computer and open it. It works from there and you follow the instructions. Once you have chosen your template you save it to your computer. The VisualBee tab on your Powerpoint ribbon will then enhance your Powerpoint for you if you click on that and so a lot of the hard work is taken out of presenting. The basic free option gives you plenty to play around with and it’s a great new presenting tool.