One area I have always struggled with is spatial reasoning. My family and friends have found it amusing over the years as I consistently get lost coming and going to even familiar places. I had a difficult time in the classroom because I would see a great design for desks that would greatly help facilitate collaboration, but when I tried to implement it, things would go horribly awry. It never failed - I always wound up with not enough room for way too many desks. Growing up, my Dad would pick me up from a youth group meeting and casually ask me how many people were there. I had no idea. It could have been 5 or 50. I had no way to estimate and was left with simply counting the people so that I knew I would have an answer.
With all that being said, I have really LOVED whiteboard animations. My fascination with them began when I first saw the RSA Animate of Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk on Changing Education Paradigms. The brilliant illustrations completely brought to life Robinson's conclusions on how education needs to evolve. I felt envy. True envy. Not only am I not spacial, I am also not gifted with an ability to draw anything. Even my attempts at stick figures are disappointing. I have accepted this inadequacy and made my peace with it. However, that has not stopped me from dreaming that I could do something like the whiteboard animations that RSA Animate does.
Enter VideoScribe. VideoScribe is a program by the United Kingdom company Sparkol that allows ANYONE to do whiteboard animations! They offer a free trial so that teachers can experiment with the animations. Included within that free trial are a large number of different animations that can be pulled into the video. Additionally, free music is available, and you can record your voice to explain the concepts to your students.
I decided to give it a shot. I took several hours and just played. I did not really have a purpose when I started, but as I played, an idea developed. I would create a video highlighting the amazing things happening in a school I was serving at the time. As I mentioned above, I struggle with spatial reasoning, so understanding that the board was not limited to my screen, and in reality, was infinite was difficult for me. However, the final product turned out great and has been used to promote the school.
If you have been curious as to how these whiteboard animations are developed, I would really encourage you to sign up for a free trial with VideoScribe. Playing with this program has been fun, and even my husband is using it this week for a project in his education class!
Happy teaching with tech, my friends!
Today, I will be presenting at the GCSS (Georgia Council for the Social Studies) Conference in Athens, Georgia. The presentation handout is available below. Please feel free to download it and use it! The resources are linked within the document. While this presentation was for Social Studies teachers, many of the resources are appropriate for all subjects!
Thank you to all of you who attended today's session and stuck it out even though there was no projector! I had a great time with all of you! What a wonderful session of collaboration.
Happy teaching with tech!
My husband recently went back to school to finish his teaching degree after years out of college. We kid that after years of living with a teacher, the fact that he still wants to be teacher must mean he is committed… or should be committed. As he is taking his first Education class this semester, it has been interesting for me to see the changes in the education of our next generation of teachers from when I was in school. One thing I found the most interesting last week was that he had an upcoming project, and the professor preferred the presentation be in PowerPoint or Prezi. While both of these offer interesting possibilities, especially with the addition of Office Mix to PowerPoint, this made me really want to highlight on this blog a newer presentation technology, Spiral!
David Geurin (@DavidGeurin) stated, “Classrooms don't need tech geeks who can teach, we need teaching geeks who can use tech.” Given that, there is no more important goal to me than to provide an easy transfer for teachers to new technology. One amazing thing about Spiral is its ability to import existing PowerPoints for ease of transition. This is accomplished utilizing the Discuss app within Spiral. With Discuss, a new presentation can be created OR an existing PowerPoint can be imported. While there are some size restrictions on these imports, I have found them to be fairly reasonable. Once the PowerPoint has been uploaded, questions and tasks can easily be added to the presentation. Much like Nearpod, the teacher has control over the students’ devices, and when questions and tasks come up, the students’ devices are paused so that focus can be directed to the task at hand.
Spiral has two other apps, QuickFire and Team Up. In QuickFire, a quick question is asked by the teacher, projected on the screen, and sent to students’ devices. Settings within QuickFire allow the teacher to determine whether students will answer in text or with a drawing. A timer is easily set, and an image can be attached to the question. In Team Up, the teacher enters a title and creates an overarching task. There is a possibility to differentiate the tasks into separate objectives. Spiral can team up your students randomly or purposeful teaming up in order to differentiate is easily done.
Spiral is one of my newest favorites in EdTech. I hope that you’ll check it out! It’s easily incorporated into your existing curriculum, and Spiral offers lots of support. Happy teaching with new tech!
Leah Kurtz, Ed.S.
I am a Technology Training/Integration Specialist for a public school district north of Atlanta, Georgia. I am passionate about supporting teachers and students in transforming their classrooms using technology. I am a firm believer that technology should not be a special occasion; rather, technology is at its best when it is a seamless part of our everyday actions.