One of my main hopes of joining this class is to get some good collaboration with other teachers and to steal their good ideas. While it is intimidating to put my ideas out there for everyone to judge, we would never get any ideas out there if we all acted that way, so I am going to share a creative digital idea with you and hope that others will share their ideas as well.
In the past, I have always asked my students to describe the balance of power in the U.S. government in an essay. It was supposed to describe how the balance of power is supposed to work and then the students are supposed to tell us how they think it really works (or doesn’t). How it is supposed to work can get a bit dry in an essay so this year we asked them to make a presentation in Prezi (like Powerpoint or Keynote, but on the internet) for how it is supposed to work. Then their essay could focus more on how it really works, in their opinion, based on evidence presented on a particular issue. Once they made the Prezi (http://prezi.com/), they had to narrate it through a screencast (http://screencast-o-matic.com/) while they played their slide show.
One of the great things about Prezi is it is like having a giant whiteboard to make a mind map or just take notes or brainstorm. Then you can tell Prezi which part of the whiteboard to capture for each “slide”. This gives Prezi not just a purpose as a presentation tool but also as a note-taking tool. When the students wrote their essays, their Prezi was their top resource for ideas for their writing. I have included an example one of my students made. By the way, this idea was not mine, but that of my teaching partner, but I have enjoyed watching how it has helped in the learning process.