As an English teacher, I am always using metaphors or other imagery to explain the concepts I want students to grasp. For example, when telling students about building a good paragraph or essay, it can be helpful to use the analogy of a good essay being like a sandwich or a hamburger with bread slices as the introduction and conclusion and the meat and other stuff as the body of the essay. If you like using visuals when you teach (does anyone teach without visuals?!?), I have found a great online application called Prezi that you should try. Prezi.com is a fun and effective tool for creating presentations that are media rich. Sure you can use the old fashioned Power Points but Prezis are way more fun and engaging and they can be manipulated to create animation.
The best part about designing with Prezi is that you don’t have to organize your ideas before creating your presentation. You can just start throwing ideas together and organize them later by rearranging them, linking them, and even zooming in on them. As with Power Point, you can add other elements like video and audio, but Prezi is much more interesting and fun. Imagine you have a huge poster board and you just start pasting pictures, text, and even audio and video on it. Then you use a digital “camera” to create a video of the poster board, moving from section to section, zooming in on important elements, and zooming back out to emphasize the relationships between ideas…that’s really what Prezi is like. For visual teachers and learners like me, this is awesome.
Once you have all your ideas on the workspace you can begin organizing them by grouping ideas together and then linking them. Think about this: If you start with a visual image (like my hamburger) and begin zoomed in on it, you can build each part of the prezi “within” the main image. At the end of your presentation, you can zoom out so that your audience then can see the “big picture.” Students love guessing what your big image will be as you present.
The learning curve is a little steep at first so you might want to watch at least one of the introductory tutorials before starting. Start out making a short, concise presentation to experiment. I’ve included a link below to one of the Prezis I created for a class in which I introduced a few elements of writing with the hamburger metaphor. If you make a cool Prezi for your class, please share it with me here by sending me a link.
While you’re at Prezi, check out some of the great professional examples available on the site too.