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Jeremy Macdonald: Simply Powerful

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November 08, 2012 08:42 pm


The following post comes from Jeremy Macdonald, a 5th Grade Instructional Technology teacher at Mills Elementary in the Klamath Falls City Schools district in Klamath Falls Oregon.

There are so many tools and apps and widgets and gadgets out there that it is often difficult to figure out which ones are worth your time and which ones are better left alone. But in reality, who has time to figure that out?

A while back I wrote about the phases or stages of ed-tech. Many of us become enamored with a device or an app before we have a chance to see what the alternatives are. Fortunately for me, I have (or at least I tell myself that I have) time to read up, demo, play with, and try for myself a lot of what hardware and software companies are designing for education.

And recently, something has caught my eye and it has intrigued me with it’s beauty and simplicity. Haiku Deck is the next generation of presentation tools. It allows you to create stunning, visually masterful presentations that get to the point and help you share your message effectively.

I currently teach English Language Development to my school’s language learners and when I first saw Haiku Deck I immediately knew that it was a tool that would benefit my students. The best part about Haiku Deck is its simplicity–You pick a picture for the back ground; you add some text (not a lot, but just enough); and then you share it. It really is that simple.

The developers of Haiku Deck have created a search engine that looks for not only stunning and visually appealing images, but finds those that are Creative Commons licensed and free to use in and out of your classroom. So no longer do you need to search the web for the pictures you want to later have to import them into your presentation. You pick the pictures as you go. Simple and easy.

Another thing I like about Haiku Deck that you avoid having to mess with too many options. While I still enjoy the dynamic features of a more robust application like Keynote or Powerpoint or Google Presentations, I often find myself and my students getting lost in bells and whistles. Haiku Deck limits those distractions by offering you pre-designed themes and layouts. All you need to do is choose which one you want. Its emphasis on images and brief text allows users to focus on their message.

So back to my classroom. I need my students to focus on the language skills and forms that we practice daily. I thoroughly enjoy using our iPads and laptops to learn these skills, but I also appreciate the least amount of distractions that take my students’ focus away from the learning. I see Haiku Deck becoming my primary delivery tool for a lot of the grammatical forms and topic specific vocabulary we use each week. I can’t imagine a better way to introduce words and their functions than with vivid images that illustrate clearly what the students are learning. Additionally, as we make Haiku Deck a regular part of our daily learning, students will begin to use this to share what they are learning. Oral and written practice are vital to my students’ success. We talk a lot and we write a lot. This helps us do both. The delivery of the content will spring board our classroom discussions and practice of sentence forms, while student created decks will provide them a space to practice their writing purposefully and succinctly.

And I have to tell you this, as amazing as this app is, the team behind it is just as awesome. I have been speaking with a member of their staff for a few days now trying to find ways to make this better for classrooms. Currently their Terms of Use ask that users be at least 14 years of age. That’s a problem if you work in an elementary school. The reason behind this is because they cannot guarantee that image searches will always come back “safe”. The issue is how owners of these images tag their pictures when posting to places like Flickr . The team at Haiku Deck are aware of this and are working with people like me to find ways to make this as safe as possible for all of our students.

So to get you started, here are a few examples of how Haiku Deck has been used to teach and to share, followed by some links so you can find out more about Haiku Deck for yourself.

Helpful Links:

Haiku Deck for iPad

Haiku Deck Tutorial

Are you a Haiku Deck Guru?

Jeremy Macdonald is a fifth grade teacher and instructional technology coach at Mills Elementary in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Mr. Macdonald’s blog posts appear on the second Thursday of every month. Read his previous posts here. Find more information on Mr. Macdonald on his website at You can also follow him on Twitter at @MrMacnology

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