March 7

Can I “Sway” Your Opinion for Using “Sway”?

This week’s tool chosen for review is Sway. Many of you have seen how this tool works and most of our 6th graders in the district have had some experience with it. I think it is one of the better and easier presentation tools available to us through our Office 365 accounts. It is free as well to those who choose to create an individual Microsoft account. It can be found at https://sway.com/education/. Its uses are many. It allows you to create interactive classroom or business presentations easily. Digital stories and even student portfolios for work could be created with this tool. To describe it simply, it’s a tool somewhere between Powerpoint and Prezi. It’s cool without making you dizzy, like Prezi sometimes can.

It’s an online tool so there is no download needed and can be created/viewed on any device. Simplicity of use is one of its best qualities. Some of our 6th graders watched the 4 minute tutorial and within minutes were moving through it creating their content. They added photos, videos, audio, charts and even tweets as they were suggested within the “add” capability. There are suggested items to add that are driven by the text that is input into the “cards.” Beyond the suggested items, Sway is also connected with Flickr, Bing, Pickit, One Drive, and Youtube. Choosing images/videos from your own account within each of these services along with those stored on your device is an option.

How to use:

One of the best features that I have found is the incorporation of Creative Commons licensing. It gives a check box that when marked will only pull those items within the CC license. There is even a link to learn more about copyright within the disclaimer agreement above the image/video content that states “You are responsible for respecting others’ rights, including copyright.”  If this box is unchecked it will pull all results based on the term search. That could be a problem if students choose to remove that option.

There are many design options and they are customizable. What I did find limiting was the fact that there are only 3 layouts which can sometimes not fit the design in mind.

The option to collaborate with another author is also available as well as the capability to share out with a link or embed code. Embed code can also be used in the Sway itself which could technically allow you to embed a Sway within a Sway.

As mentioned above I could see this being used for general presentations, as well as housing student work to be shared as a sampling for parents or even in more detail as a student portfolio. For vocabulary purposes, it could be used to introduce vocab within a lesson or students could create their own study guides of vocab and share through the link with classmates. Since these can be embedded and even remixed by another if you allow in the settings, students could begin creating a personal study tool for their vocabulary.

Lesson Plan idea for its use along with Sway example:

Sway Lesson

January 31

Microsoft Educator Community

Looking for a place to find teaching resources, cool virtual field trips, free trainings and more? Well that place is the Microsoft Educator Community. Access to all of these great resources is available through your Office 365 account. You just need to join. (Directions for joining can be found at the bottom of this post.)

So you are probably asking, “What will I find in this community?”

Here is a list of some of my favorite tools in the site:

Skype in the Classroom

  • Guest Speakers – Through Skype in the Classroom you can easily access guest speakers who are at the ready to share their knowledge with your students. Just search by subject and age group to find a great guest speaker best suited for your class.
  • Virtual Field Trips Not only can you bring visitors to your classroom, you can also take your students to far off places…virtually. The virtual field trips available in the Microsoft Educator Community are growing every day, and searchable by grade level, subjects, country destination and more.
  • Play Mystery SkypeGet your students guessing about geography, cultures and students across the globe. Mystery Skype is an interactive learning game in which two classrooms use Skype and ask a series of questions to guess each other’s locations. It’s exciting for both classrooms (and teachers!) involved. Connect with other classrooms who want to Mystery Skype.

 Lesson plans that are ready to use

The educator-created lesson plans fellow teachers have shared in the community are effective, curriculum-aligned and simple to locate for your needs. There are poetry lessons for third graders and world geography lessons for middle school students that mesh perfectly with our curriculum.

Lightning fast how-to videos

These videos are perfect for those times when we do not need a major continued learning course, but do need to learn how to make an infographic … pronto! That’s where these Quick Tip Videos come in handy. They are two-three minute videos that clearly and concisely answer common technical questions.

Courses for professional development

But when you want to take the time to really increase your educational knowledge base the Microsoft Teacher Academy courses are a great start. Search by skills development category, subject areas or student age group to locate the courses that will best bolster your skills. There are even courses that can teach you how to code!

How to Join:

  1. Go to Microsoft Educator Community
  2. Click Join Now

 

  1. A textbox opens that requires your credentials. Make sure you choose the Office 365 option at the top.

As always, if you need any assistance with the site’s use or help in setting up a Skype lesson please contact me.