Discovering Prezi

In preparation for an interview, I was asked to create a lesson plan on Yala Korwin’s poem “The Little Boy with His Hands Up.” I thought it would be a good chance to try a Prezi.

Click here to see what I made.

I’ve been thinking a lot about technology at school and how it’s used. For a lot of classes, technology is a projector, a SmartBoard and an online calendar. While these tools are useful, they don’t change the way that students think and learn on their own. The value in technology is really in how we choose to use tools to build on the essential goals of the course;

  • One of my goals is to give students models for thinking and communicating. For the prezi I made today, I wanted to model the dens of thought that should emerge while reading of a poem. Even though I only selected a few questions and references, the prezi shows how words and images from the poem trigger connections to other knowledge. I also wanted to model different levels of questioning.
  • Another one of my goals is that students learn strategies to approach new and difficult texts. For this particular prezi, it is essential that 8th grade students have read the poem and thought about the image for themselves first. The prezi is not organized as an introduction to the poem, but as a guide for a more critical third or forth reading. If they only looked at the prezi, their experience with the poem would be limited and borrowed.
  • I also want students to be part of the course narrative. This prezi depends on me to judge the students’ understanding and facilitate a discussion at the same time. I designed the path as a suggestion for the course of discussion, but one of the reasons that I like prezi is that I can abandon the path if I need to respond to discussion. I also like that I can add student insights to the endless canvas on my laptop, hit refresh on the SmartBoard, and the prezi is a living document. Their insights become part of the instruction.