PowToon…. more like, WOWToon!! Ok, I know that was cheesy.
I was introduced to PowToon last November at the ECET2 Puget Sound (Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teachers and Teaching) event. The Puget Sound Educational Service District put together the coolest video to promote the Puget Sound Teacher Leader positions that they were seeking applications for. Of course, I assumed that this awesomely effective video was made by some technology professional at the organization, and didn’t think too much of it after that…. that is until my colleague mentioned how amazing something so professional looking can be made quickly and on a free website. “Um… what!?”
As I mentioned in my last post, my students and I have been blessed with the opportunity to pilot some amazing technology; including a class set of Surface Pro 3’s. Over the past couple months, we’ve been learning the ups and downs of incorporating these powerful machines into our daily lives in a way that promotes more effective learning experiences. As we’ve been making this transition, PowToon hasn’t exactly been on my mind. However, I was reminded of it when talking to one of my students after assigning a research assignment that had a presentation component. I believe our conversation when a little something like this…
Student: “Do we haaaave to use PowerPoint?”
Me (thinking for a moment first): “Um… no?”
Student: “Ok… so what should I use?”
Me: “Have you ever heard of PowToon?”
If you’ve ever tried anything new that is technology-based, with your students, you’ve probably noticed that they have a knack for catching on quickly. There is something intuitive about students working with tech; it’s an amazing thing to see. I knew my kids would have no problems with this new tool, but I really loved the idea about one of my students jumping in first. This served well for two specific reasons: 1) As she presented her PowToon, which was something new and exciting in a sea of PowerPoints, the rest of my students’ interests were piqued in a way that I don’t think I could have done myself. 2) Once I introduced the assignment that I wanted the students to complete using PowToon, I had an expert in the room. This student was able to help her peers both individually, and even presented mini-lessons on some of the most requested FAQs (we collected this data using SurveyMonkey!).
At this point, there isn’t a ton YouTube, Twitter, or Pinterest (some of my top PD sites!) regarding students using PowToon, but I can tell that it is a classroom tool growing in popularity. My students are currently using it to create short 2-3 minute book review videos and are not only sharing their knowledge of the novels they are reading, but they are having an absolute blast doing it.
As I become more and more comfortable teaching Common Core State Standards, I’ve found myself eager to explore new and creative ways to use them as not only a foundation for instruction, but in helping my students make connections between these standards and their life. Some of the most natural connections lie with the standards that focus on presentation of knowledge. My students are really grasping the fact that to effectively communicate their views, whether it’s in an academic or personal setting, they need to analyze their audience and craft their message in a strategic way. Technology has enabled us to most past the typical poster or PowerPoint presentation (although I feel that those are still valid ways to demonstrate knowledge and learning), and has provided options to my students are working hard to design presentations that best fit the needs of their specific audience, task, and context.
What activity ideas do you have that will give students the opportunity to share and present their work using PowToon? What creative ways involving a variety of multi-media components do your students present their learning?