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Ford Institute and Best Practices: Part I – Prezi and Digital Storytelling

it’s the first morning of the Presidential Timeline’s Ford Institute and I am pumped! There are 20 of us here in Ann Arbor, Michigan at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library. Our task for the next four days? Working to share ideas and strategies to improve the teaching of social studies.

A few goals during the institute:

  • gaining historical content knowledge
  • strengthening our pedagogical skills
  • getting better at the use of technology

And we started with a couple of basic overarching questions:

  • How is knowledge constructed in social studies?
  • What strategies work?

So . . . as I’m working to create curriculum and learning more about how to use it, I’ll also try and share what us history geeks come up with.

Head over to the institute’s resource page. We’ll be adding to this as we go along. So be sure to refresh the page often. Let the fun begin!

We started with a simple knowledge activation exercise using Prezi. Ryan Crowley, part of the Presidential Timeline team, created a shared Prezi and asked us to add content to it. His guiding questions?

What do you know about the Vietnam War? How do you teach it?

And because it’s a shared Prezi, we were able to log into our Prezi accounts and add specific content – this could be text, photos, links, video clips, etc. It seems like a great way to help hook kids into the topic but also gives you an idea of what kids already know about that topic.

The cool thing about Prezi is that the path that the presentation takes can be quickly edited. Once the presentation is created, ask students to figure out how to arrange the order of stuff. Should it be chronological, by importance, by theme, by ideology? You can also group chunks of stuff and have that is a specific order.

Something else might be that you tell the group that the Prezi can only have 10 documents and they have to select the best 10. And argue the why.

It’s these last bits that make kids think. It can go way beyond just the collection and archiving of content. Take it a bit further and have kids create this sort of presentation as a pre-learning exercise and then, after instruction and learning, use it as almost a final assessment. Have them take Prezi they created and edit it. Ask them to address the following questions:

How would you change your original presentation? What would add or subtract? How would the path look different?

Get a sense of what we created, literally in about ten minutes, at the Ford Institute Prezi stuff here.

I’m curious. How could you incorporate this idea with your instruction?

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