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Tech Tools for Teachers, By Teachers: Bridging Teachers and Students
Carmen Manning, William Brooks, Vanessa Crotteau, Annelise Diedrich, Jessie Moser, and Amanda Zwiefelhofer
Wisconsin English Journal Volume 53, Number 1 Spring 2011

Prezi: The Powerful Presenter
What is it?
Prezi is an interactive and visually pleasing tool that uses zooming and spatial relationships to present information. Similar to a traditional PowerPoint, Prezi has the ability to incorporate various types of media. However, Prezi’s interactive interface allows for a morestreamlined approach to presenting information, emphasizing both the big picture as well as the connections among ideas. Teachers are able to access this program online for free and, if using an education-based e-mail address, are rewarded with a larger storage capacity. If finances allow, a downloadable program which does not require Internet access is available, as well. For a basic tutorial on how to use Prezi, follow this link:
Prezi Tutorial.
How is it used?
We have developed three useful ways to implement this program within the English/Language Arts classroom. For a visual of the following cited examples, follow this link: 21st Century Literacy.
Prezi can be used as a way to develop virtual graphic organizers or word charts. The benefit to using Prezi as a way to create organizers or words charts is its interactive and expressive nature. It allows students the option of creating more dimensions to explore a topic and to incorporate their thoughts and ideas into a focused venue. For example, students can use Prezi to map the relationships among the complex array of characters in Romeo and Juliet, incorporating links to websites, videos, and images. Displaying information in this way caters to students’ learning styles and multiple intelligences. Using Prezi also allows students to more deeply explore the relationships presented by visually seeing the connections as well as delving into the content presented in the links.
Additionally, Prezi can be used as a tool for assessment. As a replacement of or supplement to a traditional 12-point, Times New Roman, double-spaced, five-paragraph essay, a student can use Prezi to express the same thoughts and ideas they would in a paper through a more visual medium. Through Prezi students can insert video, upload images, and link to websites and sources in order to better weave their research within their final assessment and demonstrate their process of inquiry. In the linked Prezi, a short-response essay paper is turned into a Prezi presentation where the student has inserted various media to illustrate characters’ views of assimilation in John Okada’s No-No Boy.
Our final idea for using Prezi within the classroom is as a tool for analyzing literature. Similar to written annotation, Prezi enables users to develop and record ideas in relation to a specific piece of literature. Prezi takes this traditional method of annotating a step further by allowing students and teachers to visually enhance the reading. For example, in our Prezi a teacher provides students with an explanation, through text and visual representation, of rhyme scheme and vocabulary words from Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go.”
How does it meet 21st century literacy goals?
Prezi is a transformative tool that builds students’ abilities to present information through logical, visual, and spatial relationships. This ability can lead to an alteration in the traditional relationship between student thought and research. Whereas traditional instructional methods encourage this relationship, using Prezi requires students to effectively communicate the explicit connections between their research and their own ideas. Through the ease of incorporating simultaneous sources of information, such as videos, images, and web links, students are able to show what knowledge they have acquired through their inquiry process. The adaptability of inquiry and research necessary for constructing a Prezi calls for students to utilize and synthesize the vast amount of information available at their fingertips.

Example of a Prezi for Secondary 5 ESL students:

The Adventure of the cardboard box