Back to school night revamped (Course 3 Final)

After all the readings and learning about designing a good presentation, I decided early on that my final project was going to be redoing my back to school night presentation (This was fresh on my mind from the most recent back to school night in early September).

I will admit, after reading Design with Better CRAP, I was a little nervous how I would pull off redoing an entire presentation when I was not very good at noticing the little details such as alignment, proximity, and contrast (Repetition is easier for me to notice).  I attempted to think about CRAP more when I did my final presentation, but that was not my main focus. I remember the quote from Brain Rules slideshow,

We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.


screenshot-2016-09-21-at-7-38-34-pm Looking back at the original presentation, there were very few visuals for the parents and that may explain why we had a lot of questions (and continue to have a lot of questions a month later). I decided to make sure I took pictures of what might work for a new presentations.


I also used some advice from the video Presentation Zen. I began to think about what the main goals were and what I wanted the parents to know. I realized that there is a lot of information that needs to be covered in the presentation, so I needed to focus on making each slide simple with pictures, bullets and make sure there were stories when necessary.


The idea of storytelling is simple when I am speaking to my audience, but I also needed to make sure that I can send the presentation to parents unable to make it and the back to school night. After watching few digital stories from The University of Houston’s, Digital Storytelling Webpage I figured I can make some videos and embed them in my presentation! I quickly learned making videos was not as easy as I’d expected, but I did attempt to make a video with Wevideo (after three long frustrating hours) and despite the fact that it isn’t the best video, I made sure to add it to my final presentation. I also use an app, Spark Video, to attempt making another video and I found this app to be a little easier to use (though still not the best video, it only took 45 minutes to create). So I now have two videos in my final presentation.

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So in the end, the presentation went from being 9 slides to 18 slides, but most slides contain some form of visual, a few even tell a story and they are simple, quick and would take very little time to present. It is also a presentation that can understood by an audience that has to view it as an email attachment.   I cannot explain all my decisions (the yellow seemed to stand out, so that’s why I used a yellow background), but I believe the final product would make more of a lasting impression.

Let me know what you think! I still have a year to fix it up for next September!


Original Back to School Slide Show

New Back to School Slide Show

Thoughts on infographics and visual note taking

Infographics seem to be everywhere. I had just finished watching the presidential debate and before it even ended, I noticed different infographics displayed that listed several facts, key information, and data  about the debate. Even though I listened to the debate, I learned much more by looking at some of the infographics created. I had a better understanding of a few key issues from the pictures versus just listening to the candidates speak. This brought back a quote I remember seeing a few weeks ago,

We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.  Brainrules


I began thinking about my students and wondered if there were ways I can create infographics to help the children understand some different skills and concepts they are learning. Of course, with data, I immediately thought about our lessons on graphing different data. So I decided to try to create an easy infographic using some of the basic graphing lessons we may encounter in the class during the date unit. I realised this was not as easy as I thought it would be. After trying several of the suggested infographic creators, I settled for piktochart as it seemed to be the the easiest for me to figure out. I reviewed the CARP Infographic  considerations and I created the following infographic:


It did not completely turn out the way I would have liked, but it is very simple and easy for children who are unable to read to figure out. I was thinking of other ways I can create infographics to display concepts for the children in different ways. We will be discussing weather in our next science unit, perhaps there is a way I can use a map of the world and display images of suns, snow, winds, etc. to show how the weather is very different throughout the world on a single day. It may be a little easier for the children to see how the weather differs from Hong Kong to places as close as Japan!


After all the considerations about different infographics, I was reminded by reading Linda Grunwald’s post; Visual Learning, that I am actually already making infographics on a daily basis even without the technology. I am always using chart paper to draw and visualize different concepts, words, or ideas.  


Having the students visualize their own thinking is also an important tool used in the classroom on a daily basis. The Visual Note taking blog has several videos, but one really stood out.

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In the video the students are creating mental note taking on a large board as groups. Visual note taking is basically reframing the mental environment so you can get a different kind of growth.- Sunni Brown.  

By drawing their thoughts, students can have a better understanding of the material other than just auditory. This reminded me of some things I did recently in the class. The students had to create a toy with recycled goods that can be pushed or pulled.  Before they began, they had to draw their ideas out and speak with their partners to help explain what they were planning to create. This was an excellent way to demonstrate their ideas and show me their thinking versus just tell me what their plan would be.

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I will make more attempts to have the children visualize their thinking and draw more pictures during different units and themes to use auditory, visual and kinesthetic  approaches to learning and remembering different concepts.

An attempt at digital storytelling

Each week as I’ve read more about presentations, I continued to revamp and think about the back to school presentation I will fix up. This week was no different, however, after reading Holly Fraser’s post Finding My (Presentation) Zen, I began to think about how I can also use presentations in the classroom more effectively. Holly states that,

We didn’t “teach” in the sense of teachers standing at the front, lecturing or presenting.

So, I didn’t create presentations…”the kids can’t “read” them, it’s too much trouble to look for appropriate images, the kids can’t sit still long enough to justify going to all the effort…” etc.


I had always used the same excuse not to use presentations in the classroom! The children couldn’t read them, I always modeled when I did mini-lessons, etc.

I can use presentations or even begin to use digital storytelling as a method to present and create mini-lessons that include the model, but from other students, peers, etc. The children may not remember everything discussed, but when they ask, I can always pull up the presentation and show it again. That idea had never crossed my mind!

This can be made into a video displaying other kids using the strategies
This can be made into a video displaying other kids using the strategies

There are many ideas and times I can use digital storytelling to help the children understand a concept, even if it requires going to a grade one classroom and taking a video of a child doing a certain skill. The digital story can be both explaining the skill, me modeling and another child modeling the skill!

This might take some time as I dabbed a bit into the whole video making this week while working on the back to school presentation. The video I made took me well over three hours to figure out!

I went onto the University of Houston’s Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, and really enjoyed the Galveston, Hurricane and Oz video and figured I can attempt something like that for the parent’s back to school night presentation, it couldn’t be that hard, right?

Afterall, it was stated that “Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message,” in the article, Towards the Framework for Visual Literacy Learning , by David Jakes.  I had this great idea to include pictures and some excerpts from some videos I took of the kids sharing their writing to explain Writer’s Workshop in the back to school slideshow. The videos would really depict emotion and excitement from the parents when they realise their child will be doing the same thing.


So I want onto WeVideo, where I had recently learned is an excellent tool for creating videos, to make my video! Well, as I said, it was not quite as easy as I had originally anticipated. I added the videos and pictures, but editing them and combining them was another story. Once I figured out some of that, I still could not figure out how to make one of the videos louder. Then there was the issue with attempting to add text, which never happened. Instead of text, I spoke and explained what was happening. Not a fan of doing that (no one likes their own voice, right) but it actually fits better than text would have fit, so I think I will keep it (though I may elaborate more of what I say).

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Anyways, it was a fun, yet frustrating several hours to say the least, but I have a short digital story to add to my final presentation that I think would really help the parents understand more of what happens in the classroom.  I will try to create one more digital story and I hope I will get better as I go so I can use it more in the classroom with the children!