The first time I tried to get my students to use Prezi was a bit of a failure. They turned that huge blank canvas into giant billboard full of random chat. I do blame myself a bit because I just wanted them to get a feel for it and play with the collaborating aspect of the program. Sometimes though with new tech and forms of communication, people get carried away and forget that the program has a purpose. I took Prezi off the table for a while until I figured out a simple way to use it in class.
We started Romeo and Juliet, and I realised that making relationship webs/family trees might be a great exercise for Prezi as long as there was a bit of a plan. We discussed the two families first, and then I asked them to draw out webs of relations for the two families. I split the class in half, so they only had to map out one family. I didn’t specify how the web needed to look like or how many characters to include. I just wanted them to design something on paper.
We were in my room using the WiFi, and this proved to be too slow to get everyone up and running on Prezi quickly. After what seemed like hours, I did a quick tutorial on the program and simply asked them to only type names on the canvas. Then they were to draw their paths, and that was it for today. Immediately some frustration sank in because they thought that the list of names was not very pretty. Some immediately asked how to drawlines? How do I customize the background? How do I draw shapes? I didn’t answer any questions because I only wanted to show them how to start. I wanted them to mess about and figure out how to translate what they did on paper to the Prezi. My hope was that eventually they would add more to the character names and build actual webs that we would connect to the other family collaboratively by sharing the link.
By the end of the class, one student had added words and wrote a narrative for the Montagues. Another student had drawn hearts around marriages. Another student was simply fascinated at how much he could zoom out. All of these were valid explorations in my eyes, and a big step from the first time we used the program. I’m actually pretty excited for next week when we start the character attribute webs and to see if we’ll be able to connect them to each other.