Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘Multimodal’

The Northern Lights

I’ve heard people say that it’s grim up north. I’m sorry, but I really have to disagree (quite strongly actually) as I’ve just come back from the Northern Grid Conference in Newcastle and I can safely say it was a fabulous event. Not only was it organised to perfection by the wonderful Simon Finch (and his amazing team) it was also truly inspiring! This was in no small part due to the amazing presenters and the pure diversity of the workshops on offer and I will blog more about that tomorrow. Today I’m going to focus on my own presentation, which was looking at inclusion and technology, as I did promise a few people I’d pop up some information as soon as I could. So here you go…

Presenting at the Northern Grid Conference was a little bit nerve racking!

I was originally going to present a 15 minute workshop but this ended up being extended due to my good friend, Mary Farmer, being indisposed by an eye op a few days before hand. This meant I now had 30 minutes to myself  – a daunting thought (for both me and the people watching). To say I was slightly worried would be an understatement, but I did catch up with a number of familiar faces before my morning session (they know who they are) all of whom convinced me I’d be fine. I’m not sure ‘fine’ would be the word I’d actually choose but things did seem to go okay and I survived two workshops virtually unscathed!

There were a few things I mentioned that are already well referenced in this blog but Multimodal PowerPoints did seem popular and there is a short tutorial and information on those available here I also spoke a little about the importance of various round ‘a’ fonts and there are a bunch of them here that you might like if this interests you. I also touched on using games based and hand held learning but I intend to blog about this soon in more detail so stay tuned. One thing I did promise was that I would try and recreate my presentation in video format so people who couldn’t get there could watch it. So here you go -I hope it’s not too rushed and that you can get an idea of what I’m saying. There were other ideas I spoke about that I didn’t have time to include here –  look out for a more in depth blog post about the conference later in the week.

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Fun with Science

It’s been a bit of a busy week for me: I’ve done quite a bit of travelling and I can’t complain. On Tuesday I was invited to present at a Science and ICT day in Cardiff, and what a fab day it turned out to be. In addition to catching up with some fine folk I got to fine out about all the great stuff currently available on the NGFL Cymru website (thanks to Alessio Bernadelli) and I got to share some ideas. I started by sharing a few great places online: some that can be used to help with lesson plans, some which had great activities and some which had some interesting web 2.0 tools that could be used in science (you can download the list here). I love sharing ideas and I think there’s something for everyone on the list but that was not the end of my contribution.

I spent a bit of time showing everyone how to create Multimodal PowerPoint and how they could be used in science. There’s a short video tutorial above. You can download an additional help sheet, with links to additional online tutorials, here. It’s safe to say it was quite a day for PowerPoint as Alessio had already showcased a great PowerPoint macro he had used. But I always think that PowerPoint is one of those universal programs that most educators use, although they may not realise how much it can do. Needless to say the teachers of Cardiff left with a few additional ideas on how they might use it!

A great deal of focus during the morning session was on thinking skills and how you can embed them easily within the classroom. Alessio had already shown some great ideas and I talked about learning logs and how they could be linked to science to develop metacognition skills. I had talked about them at a previous TeachMeet, and the host of the Cardiff Science and ICT day (the fabulous Karen Jones) encouraged me to share the idea on Tuesday. Hopefully there’ll be some Learning Logs popping up around Cardiff in the next few weeks!

I was back in Cardiff on Thursday for the first ever TeachMeet Cardiff – another great TeachMeet event. There were some great ideas shared (as per usual at such things) and I especially enjoyed Ceri Williams presentation on dyslexia friendly classrooms: simple ideas that we could all implement easily. I, incase you were wondering, talked about the wonderful free Andrea Mosaic and Google Maps.  TeachMeets are fast becoming the best CPD there is available: many at Cardiff had not attended one before and everyone went away enthused and inspired. Karen did a great job at keeping things ticking along and Alessio held the fort at the technical end. As a proud Welsh person it’s great to see the capital city suddenly become such a hotbed of collaboration. Long may it continue!

More PowerPoint Magic

We’ve all sat through PowerPoint presentations where the slide show is little more than bullet pointed comments, often read out loud by the presenter, with a matching hand out for us to follow. And it’s fair to say that it is a pretty boring experience. It goes without saying then that if we’re going to produce PowerPoints that are to used in our teaching and learning experiences we need them to be a bit more engaging than those mind numbing presentations many of us have sat through at various points in time. There are a number of things we can do to make PowerPoint more creative – both as a teaching tool and as an inspirational learning tool for our pupils. Previously on the blog I’ve talked about linking the use of PowerPoint to photo editing , creating art and designing comic book characters or fashion designs. I’ve also talked about using macros and hyperlinks and we’ve even looked at actual presentation work! But a question I get asked over and over again is about the creation of multimodal PowerPoints…so here we go.

A multimodal PowerPoint certainly has wow factor! It starts life as a basic PowerPoint with text boxes you can type into while the PowerPoint is running. To do this you need to make use of the Control Toolbox which you can find in the toolbar options if you use 2003. If you’re using 2007 you’ll need to click on the Windows icon in the top left of the screen, choose ‘PowerPoint Options’ and tick the option to show the Developer Toolbar in your ribbon – the Control Toolbox can then be located. If you haven’t used this technique for creating some classroom resources then I suggest you have a go: you can make some useful labelling activities that are interactive and will engage the children (particularly, I’ve found, the younger ones).

To move on from simple labelling activities you’ll need to create bigger interactive text boxes that will type on more than one line. If you follow this help sheet you should be able to do this quite easily. Once you’ve made one text box I would copy and paste it throughout the presentation and resize it as necessary: it will save you a lot of time! When making these presentations use action buttons in the lower corners to link the slides and disable the option to move the PowerPoint on via a mouse click (look at your options in Slide Transition task pane): this forces the pupils to use the action buttons to move through the slides. I’d also save these as PowerPoint Shows rather than PowerPoint Presentation (look for this in the drop down menu when you save, if using 2003, or choose other formats when using 2007): it means that when the pupils double click to access and start work they do not see the additional bits of the PowerPoint – they’re going directly to Slide Show view. Look at this example to see what I mean

Well so far, so good, but if we really want to bring this to another level it’s worth introducing some video clips to the mix. I would never have thought of using PowerPoint in this way if it was not for  Sir Tim of the Rylands who has one of the most awe inspiring and interesting blogs ever – thanks Tim! The toughest part with this is finding videos (although using the videos option in Google helps) but there are a number of things you can do. Obviously you can search You Tube (which I often do) but you’ll also need to download and convert anything you want to use (time consuming but worth it). It’s also worth looking at the Teacher’s TV website and the ever wonderful( everything you might want already categorised into subject areas)  Teaching Videos site run by the ever busy Mark Warner. Again you will need to download and convert you chosen (nothing’s ever THAT easy is it?) but it is worth it! Another option is to use something like Fraps for screen capture purposes – excellent if you’re exploring literacy using Myst or something similar. The reason I always download the videos is that they can’t be embedded in a PowerPoint so you’ll need to link to them from your hard drive to get them to play in your show. I just insert them in the normal way (Insert – Movie – from file) and select ‘click to play’ (this means they can also be clicked to pause action). You can insert a media player – I usually don’t bother but it’s simple enough to do if you want to.

Just a final tip. When I create a multimodal with video I create a folder for it first and place everything I need (any video content and the actual PowerPoint show) in the folder. It’s the best way to ensure the multimodal links together properly and also means I can copy the folder into individual pupil folders and they can all access the same content. The finished shows should really engage the learners have a look at this Ks2 example or an example created for younger pupils and see how you could use them in your classroom

Power to the PowerPoint!

The majority of us use Microsoft PowerPoint as a teaching tool and we also encourage pupils to use is – sometimes to excess. PowerPoint is one of those applications that you can get started on quite easily and get stuck in a rut with. If you get stuck in a rut, the use of PowerPoint within the classroom can become boring very quickly – for both teachers and pupils.

I have a few PowerPoint pet hates (I’m sure you do too) . Lists of bullet points, in a boring font, placed on a boring background. Huge amounts of text that are then read out loud by the person delivering the PowerPoint. Over use of custom animation, animated gifs or motion paths (can be very distracting and some pupils get transfixed on the moving bits). I could go on. I’m pretty sure you could too!

One thing that has transformed the use of PowerPoint has been the Click n Drop macro for interactive PowerPoint Activities . The macro is actually titled Drag and Drop but you don’t actually drag the items – just pick them up with a click, move the mouse, and click to drop them elsewhere. The above example contains instructions but you will need to set your macro security settings to medium (or low) for this macro to work. The only issue some have highlighted is the inability to include custom animation on the same slide as the macro, but I don’t really see this as a problem. Just be creative in other ways!

I began to use this macro a few years back when I supported pupils with significant SEN within a mainstream setting. One child in particular had great difficulty with dragging and dropping (used on so many activities) and the macro gave me a way of creating activities linked to class topics that the child could manage to complete independently. For example, I created a simple activity where the child had to drag the correct amount of coins into a box to show the price of an item. Or a sequencing activity for story work that didn’t involve the need for scissors and glue, as seen here: Bear Hunt Click and Drop Story Map. Although I had a plethora of specific SEN software at my disposable I found that much of it is visually unappealing or (and this is just my opinion) can be boring after it’s been used in every lesson. The use of the PowerPoint macro really enhanced the child’s learning and, a big plus here I think, is free to use and easy enough to set up; making it a handy addition to any teacher or support assistant’s ICT collection.

Of course I’m not the first person to blog about this fantastic adaptable resource – I’m aware that many other have. I still think, however, it’s worth mentioning again as I believe it’s not been highlighted as a possible idea for creating resources for pupils with SEN. I also think, that with a bit of creativity, the activities can look just as appealing to pupils as those activities that have more going on. This fun example for use in literacy session is just one example of how it can be made visually appealing and usable in classrooms.

And, just while we’re talking PowerPoint here, I’d also think the ‘type on slide’ facility is one worth exploring. There are basic instructions here (although these only show you how to use it for captions) but you’ll get the idea if you have a look at this example when viewed as a slide show: Type on Discussion Writing Frame . As a general rule I would save these (for pupil use) as PowerPoint slide shows rather than presentations – it makes it far more obvious to the child how it needs to be used. Unfortunately this means I have to get them to copy and paste the resource into their folders before working on them or I have to do it before hand! This doesn’t take that long though and the usefulness and appeal of the resource makes up for it.

I’ve also been encouraging others to create multimodal PowerPoints in this style to support activities across the curriculum and you can download an example of one (if you’re not familiar with the idea) here. Please be aware that this zip file is quite large (17MB) and may take time to download. The idea presented makes it worthwhile though (I hope). Again these files are saved in slide show format and the videos are within the same folder as the show -I just found this easier as I created them at home and wanted to bring them in ready made. When creating them at school you could insert the video from another folder if you wished. Again, because of the way they were created, I had to copy and paste the folder into each pupil’s individual science folder so they could work on their own copy, but this was not really a problem. The fabulous thing about this type of resource is that even  pupils who can only type basic sentences (I’ve had Year 1 children accessing them) can have a go at using them. All I can say is that the children seem to love them and that’s good enough for me.

Unfortunately I am a distinct PowerPoint bore, and could willingly waffle on about other whizzy things that you can do with PowerPoint: using triggers and motion paths, making speech bubbles talk, creating mouse skills activities…I could go on for hours. I’m not going to though. Best to save it for another day! I do hope that you’ll find some of these ideas useful though and start looking at PowerPoint in a different way! It doesn’t have to be boring!