Friday, July 29, 2016

Mix Up Your PowerPoints with a Free Tool

Do you create PowerPoints to deliver your classroom lessons? If so, did you know you can make them even more interactive with Office Mix?

About Office Mix

Office Mix is a free add-in for PowerPoint. It is an easy way to take your PowerPoint presentations or lessons and bring them to life as interactive, online lessons. From recording audio or video of yourself giving a lecture to directly writing in the presentation as you would at your whiteboard to quizzing and sharing, it helps you create interactivity simply.

Getting Started

To install Office Mix:
  1. Go to
  2. Click on the red Get Office Mix tab located in the upper right hand corner.
  3. Log in in with your Microsoft or your Office 365 account. If you do not have an account, you can easily create a free account.
  4. Install Office Mix.
Please note, before you install Office Mix, make sure you are running a recent version of Office 2013, 2016 or O365.
After you install Office Mix, explore its new tab:
  1. Open PowerPoint.
  2. Explore the tools on the new Mix tab.
Office Mix Tab


Things You Can Do Now You Couldn't Do Before

As you explore Office Mix, you’ll notice some of the things that you can now do:
  • Insert web pages, videos, polls, and other interactive content into your presentation.
  • Record your voice and draw on your slides while you present.
  • Record your screen while explaining how to do something.
  • Share your Mix online; it plays back on any device.
  • Track how people use your Mix.

In addition, Office Mix is a great way to flip your classroom. Check out this video by Microsoft in Education on how you can create an interactive lesson that students can review at home. This will allow you to reserve limited class time for group discussions or for focusing on the more difficult material.

A Challenge

If you have never used Office Mix before, I challenge you to give it a try. If you want to see some examples first, there are quite a few on the Gallery.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Drawing to Learn on an iPad

In a recent workshop on integrating iPads into the classroom, I talked about the power of using drawings and illustrations to help students master both simple and complex concepts. When I think back to my time in school, I never took an art class, which is where most drawing activities would occur. However, today, drawing can be incorporated into any subject area. 

The Benefits of Incorporating Drawing into Your Classroom

There are so many benefits of incorporating drawing or sketching in your classroom. For example, it helps:
  • Develop students’ visual literacy skillsiPad
  • Develop students’ observation skills
  • Encourage creativity
  • Reveal student understandings and misconceptions
  • Make connections between observations and ideas

iPad Drawing Activities

During the workshop, we used the free Doodle Buddy app in order to participate in some of the drawing activities. Any iPad drawing app can be used; however, the Doodle Buddy app is a favorite among the TCEA Professional Development department. (Peggy Reimers explains her love for Doodle Buddy in the Get Your Picasso On blog entry.)
One activity we did centered around drawing conclusions. The participants in the workshop were to gather all available information as I read to them, reflect on past experience or knowledge to see if there was a connection with the present information, make inferences, and use the sum of what they knew to make a judgment about the situation. They then drew their conclusions using the Doodle Buddy app.App-Tasktic Cards
I created “App-Tasktic” cards for each of our activities, which contained the teacher lesson, as well as the student activity. You can view the sample cards of the drawing conclusions activity here. I think these will spark other activity ideas for you.

iPad Drawing Apps

As I mentioned earlier, Doodle Buddy isn’t the only app you can use. There are several iOS apps that can be used to incorporate sketching or drawing in the classroom. Below are a few:

What are some lesson ideas for your classroom that incorporate drawing apps? Please share in the comments below.