A lot of teachers have hailed Prezi as a revolutionary presentation tool, but I’m convinced the vast majority of them aren’t using it correctly. When amateurs use Prezi, it’s no better than a powerpoint that makes you dizzy. For this reason, I only use (and allow my students to use) Prezi if the presentation benefits from a background image or an organizational tool onto which I build my presentation. There’s no better way to use this than in the history classroom with a map and events placed on top of the map where they occurred. The path provides the information about when and where each event occurred, and the finished product provides the study guide for the next assessment.
This exercise encompasses all three of the major 21st century skills: creativity, collaboration, and innovation. The students have to be creative in how they include and present their information to the class–in this task, they exercise their critical thinking and concision skills. They have to collaborate to produce the best study guide possible–not to mention they have to help each other work through Prezi. And finally, we, as a class, are innovating in how we produce a study guide, use class time differently, and move our study guide to students studying the same topic all over the globe.
This week, I put a blank map of the thirteen colonies down and had students each look up the major Revolutionary War battles. They compiled their information in a google document for homework. When they arrived for class, I taught the ins and outs of prezi. I left generic red and blue explosions next to the map for them to place where their battle occurred and to indicate who won. Then I had them zoom in on their explosion and create the equivalent of a slide (or slides) about their battle. They had to portray who won the battle, what tactics were used, and the casualty numbers. When they had included the information, I taught them framing and path. In just thirty minutes, we had a beautiful study guide of all the Revolutionary War battles.
For visual learners, I can’t imagine a better study guide. For back to school night, I can’t think of a better way to dazzle their parents; and, most importantly, students then taught each other the battles of the Revolutionary War one by one so all I had to do was fill in the gaps and ask a few pointed, discussion questions. I did not lecture; students presented and taught each other the Revolutionary War. They practiced public speaking and presenting and they learned a new application they will likely use again in their academic and professional careers–Prezi. Since we did it in class, if they get stuck or frustrated, I was right there to help.