Presentation Tools: Keepin’ it Fresh!

Presentation Tools: Keepin’ it Fresh!

This week’s sandbox was jam packed with lots of fun goodies to help keep presentations from becoming stale. If we don’t branch out from Power Point, we stand the risk of our presentations becoming flat. Finding new tools to make presentations is always exciting and fun to play around with, and this week’s options were plentiful. Some tools are easier than others and appeal to me because they are user friendly. That being said, easier tools sometimes have limitations on what you can do with them.

Sharalike is one such tool. I like the simplicity it offers. You really can’t mess it up. Creating a project using Sharalike would be feasible for students even in the lower grades. The website offers up many options of music and even allows you to upload your own onto your presentation. The musical varieties present lots of different choices depending on what you seek for your website. I think this would be a great tool to use when teaching tone and mood. Students could select pictures and music that depict a certain emotion. This is a great site to use if you are just presenting photos of a project or assignment. I was disappointed that I found no feature that allows you to add captions. But I played around and came up with my own sample.
Here is a link to a project I put together using Sharalike.

I found to be easy to use as well. It offers you projects like collage, slideshow, and movies. Like Sharalike, it offers a good variety of music to accompany your show. I think this tool is also best suited for presentations involving photos without captions or instruction. I created a project to give you an idea of what it does.

My favorite, though, was Blendspace. Wow! I love the features that permit you to add links to webpages on your slides, insert items from google drive, and even allow you to collaborate with others on your projects. You can access premade lessons and search and insert from Gooru, Flickr, YouTube,Dropbox and TES as well. You can even use the quiz creator on slides to insert questions as you go. I think this would be a great tool for groups to use collaboratively. I am all for team Blendspace to keep it fresh!

Pixabay. Public Domain:




cat-254572_1920Cat filmstrip from Pixabay. CCO

I had so much fun playing around with the video tools in the sandbox this week. I played around with sharalike, powtoons, realtimes, and animoto. Some seemed to be more suited for classroom use than others.


I liked Animoto, but I felt that the backgrounds were a bit busy for what I was looking for. When presenting to a classroom, I felt that the Animoto backgrounds would be too distracting. I feel it would be more suited for personal use.

Powtoons reminded me of Voki a bit. I thinks students would have fun with this one. The animated characters and props that are available are fun. I could see students using this to do book talks. Middle school students would be able to use this tool easily; I think it may be a bit difficult for younger kids to use, but they would enjoy watching the teacher created videos.

I had a hard time picking between Sharalike and Realtimes as a favorite. I loved how easy it was to add photos on both and I liked the music choices on both. I thought the choices on Realtimes was just a bit better. You can download your own music on many 0f these though if you don’t find something you like.

In the end, I was most impressed with Realtimes. I felt that it was very easy to use. I enjoyed the music selection and thought the transitions were good. I could see this being effective in a classroom. I think it would be a good way to show classroom projects or a field trip. It would be fun to make a slideshow at the end of the year showing pictures from throughout the school year.I loved the pared down look of Realtimes. It was an app that I downloaded onto my phone. I had a bit of trouble getting a link to my Google Drive. I think it ended up functional. I have used Google Drive a lot at school, but I guess I’d never had to try to share a link like this. It may have something to do with it being a phone app. I liked how I was able to add captions and titles to the slideshow. This would be a great tool to use when introducing a project that students need instructions on.


Exploring the World of Webpages


Student in library from Pixabay: CCO

In my exploration of school library webpages, I’ve found many that have caught my eye. One of my favorites is NES Library Webpage. This one is a Weebly webpage.The bright and colorful homepage with cheery graphics immediately grabbed my interest. The tabs were easy to follow and the information that they provided was well laid out. The pages were organized well, full of information, but uncluttered, and the links that I clicked on were all functional. One of the things I liked most was the link to Tumble books:a website that reads aloud stories and provides animation. There were links to class projects, links to resource materials, poetry links, and more. It was an all around great site.

Another Weebly webpage I liked was West District Library. I liked the information it provided although I liked the layout of the NES Library much better. I loved that they featured book recommendations written by students and showed photos of the students holding the books. I think students would love to be involved like this. The website also features links to Geisel, Newberry, and Caldecott award lists. There are links to research sites and all sorts of technology tools.

Both of these sites helped me get some ideas of what I wanted to do with my website design. I started putting together a webpage using Weebly. I’m only in the beginning stages, but excited to develop it into an exciting new page.

Audio play

Click here to check out my Voki: Sharon’s Voki

I enjoyed playing around with several of the audio tools in the sandbox. I experimented a lot with Blabberize, but I couldn’t get the hang of marking off the mouth properly in order to make the picture look like it was animated right. I tried using photos of myself and family members and the bloopers were great. This actually made it really hilarious to watch, but I decided not to post here.

I had become familiar with Vocaroo through Libs 642 where we had recorded poems earlier. I found it extremely user-friendly and think I could use this in a similar way in the classroom. Besides having students use it to read poetry and share with others, I may use it to have students post announcements for my webpage. I think they would enjoy this and could maybe use it as a reward.

My favorite tool though is the Voki. I loved working with it. I chose to use the text feature rather than the voice recorder. I was tempted to use the Scottish accent, but decided to stick to the American one as some of the words are really difficult to understand when you add the accent. One of the tricky parts to Voki is that you have to be careful with some of the words you type because the Voki may not pronounce them correctly. If this happens all you have to do is type the word in phonetically. Of course, if you record your own voice you avoid this problem. The Voki could be used for short messages like homework announcements, birthday greetings, school wide news, etc. Students would love the cartoon aspect to this tool.


I enjoyed taking a closer look at podcasts. Podcasts are not something I was very familiar with and certainly not anything I thought I’d use in a classroom, but after looking into them more, I can see great potential. Being a language arts teacher, one that stood out to me was the  Classic Poetry Aloud podcast. The podcast features a variety of poems by various classic poets. You can easily perform a search for poets, poems, and even themes. The poem is read aloud and the viewer can read along as it is also posted on the webpage. It is a bit limited on choice, and I wasn’t crazy about the narrator’s voice (it didn’t seem suited for some of the poems), but I would definitely use this in class to let students hear the poem being read aloud by someone else. I could use this for students who had missed school by posting a link on my webpage and allowing them to access an audio version of an assigned poem or have students search for poems with common themes.

Another podcast I think I would use is the Grammar Girl podcast. It features short features on specific punctuation, style, and grammar issues. I would use this to add support to students on topics we are covering in class. I also like the TEDtalks podcast. There are so many instructional, informational, and inspirational broadcasts to choose from. Virtually any topic you would want to cover can be found on this one. The speakers are interesting and the presentations seem to always be well done and hold the listeners attention.

I’m glad I have become more familiar with podcasts. I feel now that I will tap into a whole new resource that I didn’t really know had anything to offer me as a classroom teacher. Funny how that works. 🙂

Infographic to Honor the Champ!

muhammad-ali-572571_640  CCO

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Muhammad Ali. I chose his life as a topic for my infographic. I decided after looking at the other infographic tools to use I have to admit, this was not my favorite project. After a lot of trial and a great deal of error, I came up with a finished project that I think is satisfactory. I’m sure there are many uses for the infographic in a classroom, but I need to spend a lot more time practicing before I feel it is something I could use in an efficient way. If it takes too much time, I am bound to go for something that works quickly and effectively. I felt that perhaps the paid subscription would have opened up more choices for me; I felt very limited on icons etc. Moving things around on the page seemed difficult to me.

I chose the background (bricks) to depict the legacy that Ali built for himself. I tried to keep the graphics, text, and font simple as I feel that it is easier to follow. I agree with Reynolds that you should keep it simple.(Reynolds, 2014)

muhammad ali infographic.jpg

Dishner.S.(2016). Muhammad Ali CCO

Courier-Journal, T. (. (2016, June 04). The life and times of Muhammad Ali, ‘The Greatest’ Retrieved June 05, 2016, from

Reynolds, G. (2014). Presentationzen design: A simple visual approach to presenting in today’s world. San Francisco, CA: New Riders.

Creative Commons

motivator985b0a366b90996529113409b0e5f94d1a650456 (2016). Public Domain Picture/18403.  Retrieved from CCO


This image spoke to me. Not only am I in love with the mountains, but the curve of the road drew me in. What’s around the bend? At this time of year, maybe I myself am around the bend. The school year is drawing to a close, and things are, indeed, hectic. I found the tranquility of this picture soothing.

I enjoyed playing around with many of the tools in the sandbox this week,  and I am excited to use some of them next year in my classroom. I found several of the features on Big Huge Labs fun to play with. I would like to have my students use this site to create movie posters based on books they read.  They could find images that represent what they think the characters in the book look like and put them on the posters. Another Big Huge Labs tool I like is the CD/DVD cover maker; it would be great for students to use to make a cover for a soundtrack they put together that fits the mood of the book they read. The Trading Card feature would be fun to do a character study with; students could find a photo that fits, and give statistics about each character. Additionally, the  Motivator tool could be used to explain different literary techniques, such as irony, foreshadowing, conflict. Students would select photos to represent a feature of each element. I also think that the Fold Play website is interesting. The Foldbook would be a fun and engaging way for students to show sequencing in a story.  So many fun tools in the sandbox.

childhood-71651_1280.jpg (2016). Public domain pictures/18043. Retrieved from: CCO





Hello blogging world! I have struggled to get here, but all of the sweetest rewards involve struggle, don’t they? After many trials and errors, here it is-my first blog post.

The choices I have made here are deliberate. The layout of the page is simple by design. “Extra or decorative elements often result in visuals that feel cluttered,” (Reynolds, 2014, p. 34) and I agree. I feel that I have enough complications in my life right now, and the space and lack of clutter appeals to me. According to Reynolds (2014), “Type can set a mood” (p. 39). I want my readers to set at eased, so I have chosen accordingly. The font, Noto Sans, is simple. The background color is fresh and vibrant and reminds me of home. Green tends to be associated with luck, health, balance, and calm (Reynolds, 2014, p.79).

My word cloud depicts who I am, or at least, how I see myself. It is in the form of the apple, symbolizing the role of education in my life. The colors are earthy and natural. Roles which define me best take prominence in size, jumping into the forefront of the picture.

I chose the photo above because, not only is it a picture from my driveway, but it represents a road well traveled, familiarity,  peace, tranquility, and beauty. Not only that, but the entryway seems to beckon a crossover, which I am working towards by entering the master’s program and crossing over into a new career path. Beyond that crossover is a breathtaking vista that beckons me. The journey excites and scares me at the same time. You are welcomed to join me as I start this trip.

blog pic


Reynolds, G. (2014). Presentation zen design: A simple visual approach of presenting in today’s world (2nd ed.). New Riders.