Having just helped lead Pleckgate out of Special Measures in just over 12 months, it’s fair to say we have had our fair share of Ofsted inspections. One consistent theme that always comes through is that our students’ verbal or oracy skills are weak. This is not necessarily surprising given the EAL profile of our students, but it is a key area for improvement as students cannot write what they cannot say. As a result, one of the most common uses of the iPads in our classrooms is to prepare presentations which helps address this key area. So, I’ve put together an introduction to three of the top apps for making presentations.
Keynote is Apple’s presentation software that now comes free with newer iPads and Macs. It is a really simple, intuitive programme that works brilliantly on the iPads. It is simple to use, for example it’s much simpler to align and position images/objects than in Powerpoint and it’s much more multimedia friendly. Plus it has some excellent transitions and animations (Magic Move is nice), and it’s simple to export into other apps in a variety of formats. The key drawback for developing Oracy and verbal skills is that it is almost too engaging… students love to create animations and visuals, and forget about the presentation part, and therefore revert to simply reading back the written information in the slides. A good way round this is to get them to open it in Explain Everything so that they are forced to think of the presentation aspects too.
I was introduced to this app just recently, and I was immediately taken with its simplicity. Insert simple creative commons licensed images, choose from a limited licensed pool of music and record your voice to tell a story. The limited options mean students only focus on the verbal aspects of the presentation which means its great for developing oracy in students. Students can also create great stories in a matter of minutes. The downsides are also its strengths, the lack of customisation means that this is an occasional app rather than a frequent flyer.
Haiku Deck is similar to Keynote and Powerpoint, but it constrains the user into set templates and styles which makes it harder to overwhelm the audience with too much text. This forces students to focus on what they are saying, and the ‘Deck’ is just there as a visual reference point… as it should be. One downside that has been reported by some teachers online is the nature of the images and that they are not always appropriate for younger students. Definitely something to look out for.
Whichever presentation tool you use, it really comes down to the teacher focussing students on the essentials for good presentations. As with all good lessons, teachers need to share clear outcomes and objectives that are agreed from the outset so that students are clear what is expected. If these foundations are put in place then any of these apps will help develop students’ oracy skills.