Student creation is ideal. It's what we want kids to do. We want kids to be able to show what they know by creating something new. No matter how you slice it any other way, it's the only form of learning that is not a pure regurgitation of material. It's the place where kids can actually think.
What's one of the lowest hanging fruit for creation? It's presentations. There is software everywhere, and it's incredibly accessible. Kids learn about PowerPoint, Slides, and in some places Keynote from a very young age. The problem is that most teachers don't get creative with it. They just want to use it as a regurgitation of information, and that doesn't even really scratch the surface of what a presentation software can do.
When you think about presentations, don't think in the style of just having kids tell you about something. Just doing a presentation about George Washington limits what kids can actually learn. It also limits their critical thinking skills
So, what should you do? It's straightforward. Start with a scenario. Give kids an audience that they are creating the presentation for. Take the United Nations as an example. It's a group that has an interest in environmental, economic, and political issues. All of which makes it a group that can apply to almost any subject area. It means you can use it in nearly every classroom as an audience to build your presentation for. Kids are going to think more critically when they have to convince or inform a particular group, and it just makes the learning deeper.
The scenario is a great place to start, but you can also use presentation software to create a host of things that aren't really presentations. The addition of easy collaboration makes it easy, and there are loads of possibilities. It's just a matter of getting creative with it.
To start, the ability to automatically start a Google Slides presentation just with a link means it has all kinds of alternative use cases. You can do things like apps, books, comic strips, and more. You just need to use need to craft what the slides look like by adding shapes and adjusting the aspect ratio of the slide. You can make it look like almost anything. Then just get a publish to web link from the file menu, and you can choose the option to have it start as soon as a viewer goes to the link.
There are also a couple of ways to use things like PowerPoint and Keynote. You could use shapes to create Infographics, and then you could use something like the Thinglink to make it interactive. You could also use something like Magic Move in Keynote to make what looks similar to a stop motion video.
It all comes down to your imagination. Presentation software can be almost anything you want. You just need to design the scenario that goes around them.
Let's talk about social media. It's a tool almost everyone uses, but it's also a tool that can be filled with hate and bile that you just don't want your students near. What if we could use it for good though? What if we could use it for learning?
One of my favorite things that I ever did in my social studies class was to have kids create social media accounts for their favorite historical figures. The whole point was to have kids create with one of their favorite tools. It also just happened to be perfect for what I wanted a creative activity to be.
Having kids create social media profiles forced them to get in the minds of the historical figure. They had to think and post like they were them, and it forced them to go deeper than just telling me about the person. I think that's easily what makes history more than just stories.
You could get really creative with it though if you teach science and math. ELA is easy because stories are built in. Just have them be a literary character. In math, what if they treated a math concept like they were a person? You could do a social media account for the subtraction monster. I have also seen science teachers do similar things such as making certain minerals characters that they could post as.
The key is having ways to fake it. You don't necessarily want kids on the real platform because of all the problems that it could create, so you want to have tools to fake it, and that's what this post does.
Padlet is like the OG of online digital corkboards. It's been around forever and has a heck of a lot of uses. The idea is that you can create a webpage where you can create digital posts that look similar to post it notes. You can add text and images easily.
It is perfect for a fake social media board. You can create a board and have kids post as a character like they were on Instagram or Twitter. It really doesn't matter. They can add pictures, video, and text. The only downside is that kids have to create an account to create their own, so you would need to create the board for younger kids, and they would most likely need to do it together.
Nearpod is in the same boat. They have what is similar to a Padlet clone as part of their presentation software. It's a collaborative board where kids can post photos, videos, and text in a post-it note format. It's just part of a whole other software to do interactive presentations.
The idea is that you put a Collaborate board into a presentation and the kids respond to it as if they were posting on a social media wall. The first way to use it might be to talk about the person in some of the content you are presenting to kids before the collaborate board, and then have the board to have kids collaborate on for the social media post. Really though, it's up to you on how you would structure it.
3. Class Tools
Class Tools is an excellent little site that has a host of small tools and templates to use in the classroom. It looks like it was made in the late '90s, but the little tools in it work incredibly well. Two of those go to the idea of faking social media post: Fakebook and Twister.
Fakebook and Twister are precisely what they sound like. It's a place to fake a Facebook and Twitter profile. Fakebook works incredibly well, and it allows you to save the profile. Twister is a little tougher to use, but it still gives you that ability to create social media for the classroom.
4. Google Slides
Yes, I know what your thinking. A presentation tool, really? A tool like Google slides actually gives you a lot of options because of the multitude of ways that you can share it. It also becomes a good option because of the ability to deliver it via Google Classroom quickly. It's all just a matter of how you set things up.
The basic idea would be to do a slide or set of slides that has tweets of Instagram posts on them. You could change the size of the slide to correspond with a format that makes more sense for a post, and you can set the slide show to present when you click on the link. It takes some creativity, but you can definitely make it work
5. Tons of Templates
Of course, the easiest way to fake social media post is to go back to a somewhat analog world. There are tons of templates out there that allow teachers to use things like Microsoft Word and Google Docs to create social media post. Students can use them digitally, but they can also be printed out. If you want the easiest route to go, this may be it.