PowerPoint is Dead, Use Canva Instead?

A few weeks ago, I observed a very interesting conversation transpire. A local university was offering a three graduate course in PowerPoint. It began an interesting conversation about the whether this course was needed or not.

Don't get me wrong, I still use PowerPoint for the majority of my presentations; however, our students view this technology as "old school" and "out of date." It's the equivalent to watching a movie on VHS or listening to your favorite album on cassette. It made me think about ways that we can represent content differently without turning to PowerPoint. Is PowerPoint finally dead? Well...probably not, but this series will investigate a few "cool" alternatives.


Canva is a free tool that you can use to develop posters, presentations, graphics, flyers, and even Facebook covers! It's drag and drop functionality makes it easy to learn and use. In fact, when you sign up for a free account, you are taken through a tutorial on how to create your first design.

How do you create a design? 

First, start with a design in mind. You can choose from a variety of different formats if you want to create a poster, presentation, picture, business card, or flyer.

Next, start adding to  your design. Canva offers free backgrounds, graphics, and text designs. Choose what best works for you. Check out my simple design below. This took me less than a minute to create! If you choose not to use the pictures that Canva provides, you can upload your own!

If I choose, I can add more pages to my design with just a click of a button.

Finally, I am ready to share my design with an audience. I have several different options for sharing my content. 
  • Share a link of my design. I even have the option to give others permission to make changes to it - a great collaboration piece!
  • Publish as an image on the web
  • Download as a PDF .

Be aware that there are elements that you may have to pay for if you choose to publish to the Internet or download. For educational purposes, I personally would either share via link or download a PDF with a watermark (see how to do this below).


I like the idea of having students visually present information in different ways. This gives students a chance to demonstrate their understanding in different ways, while helping their classmates make connections with the material. Students have an opportunity to be extremely creative with this tool!

You could easily use this for presentations, creating infographics, defining vocabulary words, and creating projects. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Goodbye Jeopardy Review Games. Hello FlipQuiz!

Remember the days of using Jeopardy as a review game? Did you use a dusty old chalkboard or try to find some trendy PowerPoint template? Was it time consuming and difficult to form? Why not try an easy and free alternative?

What can I do instead? 

Perhaps you could add FlipQuiz to your review / flashcard repertoire to create interactive quiz boards that look and function much like flashcards with a game show twist!

How do I use it? 

Step 1: Create a free account at FlipQuiz

Step 2: Create your board. When you create your first board, you will be prompted to give it a name.

Step 3: Add category names. Just like Jeopardy has category names, you will need to create up to six category names for your questions. You can leave category names blank or use less than six if you would like!

Step 4: Add your questions. Next, you will want to add your questions and answers! Want a UDL way of reviewing material? This tool provides students with multiple ways of representing materials. You can incorporate text, pictures, videos, and hyperlinks (which could be used for audio) into your FlipQuiz!

Step 5: Play! After you are finished, you can begin playing your FlipQuiz.

What are the Advantages? 

FlipQuiz is entirely web-based, which means you can access it anywhere you have Internet access. The best part is that if you create a FlipQuiz, it can be used again and again! You can use multiple forms of media to stimulate learning. You can even embed this in a website, so that students can access it outside of the classroom!

What are the Disadvantages? 

Probably the biggest disadvantage is the fact that you do not have access to scoring features; however, they are available in the paid version. Unfortunately you are unable to upload pictures directly from your computer in the free version. You can find the URL of the picture and paste it into FlipQuiz. If you are interested in the paid version, it is $7 per month.


Even if you use the free version, this is a great way to engage students differently without too much work on your part. One of the biggest limitations of old-school Jeopardy games is the fact that they address only one type of student - the student who excels reading text. Why not provide students with other ways to connect with material in the form of videos, pictures, and links?

Awesome #EdmodoApps: Helping Students Write with No Red Ink

I am continuing with my series devoted to sharing cool Edmodo Apps that can transform your classroom. The Common Core emphasizes the need for students to develop strong writing and communication skills. While this is an important skill, many of our students struggle with grammar development. This barrier can cause our students to lack the communication skills necessary to achieve this goal.

Solution: No Red Ink

NoRedInk is a free website and Edmodo App for teachers to provide students with practice assignments and quizzes to help them develop grammar and writing skills. Go to the Edmodo Store to download and assign to specific classes.

How to Use It

When you launch No Red Ink, you can assign can create an assignment or quiz for students to take. Assignments are formative assessments, where students can learn from their mistakes and fix them immediately. Quizzes are summative assessments where students can fix mistakes at the end of the quiz.

You can create assignments or quizzes on capitalization, apostrophes, commonly misspelled words, colons, commas, and pronouns. The best part is that NoRedInk provides a question bank of pre-made questions, so there is very little that you have to do!

Why It Helps Students

This is the perfect tool to provide scaffolds and supports in place for struggling students, while they learn at their own pace. The best part is that NoRedInk teaches students as they go. If students make a mistake, they will learn why their answer was incorrect and how to correct their results. Students can track their progress throughout the assignment and see how they are doing. This avoids mindless practice and provides timely feedback, which is both effective and engaging.

Why It Helps Teachers

Addressing the Common Core is all of our jobs and is no longer isolated to Language Arts classrooms. This is the perfect tool to help all students in all classes. The best part, is that you don't have to be an expert. If you are a teacher who also struggles with grammar, this tool can help you help your students become better writers. NoRedInk gives you tools to track student progress and grades activities automatically!

Awesome #EdmodoApps: CK-12 Math Practice

I have been using Edmodo for the past five years; however, I am just now beginning to explore the awesome world of Edmodo Apps! This series is devoted to sharing some of the cool Edmodo Apps that can transform your classroom.

Edmodo for Math? 

When I work with teachers and tell them about Edmodo, I often get resistance from Math teachers. I don't blame them. Many feel that it does not have a place in their subject area; however, the free CK-12 Math Practice App may change their minds! 

CK-12 Math Practice

I love the simplicity of CK-12 Math Practice because it easily integrates into your Edmodo grade book. How does it work? To get the most out the App, teachers must go to the Edmodo store and purchase it for free. Once you purchase it, you will need to agree to the App's terms to activate it. After you have activated it, you can assign it to specific classes.

Step 1: Pick Your Subject 

It starts with choosing a middle school or high school math subject:
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra 
  • Geometry 
  • Statistics
  • Trigonometry
  • Calculus 
For this example, I will choose Algebra. 

Step 2: Pick Your Topic

Depending on your subject area, you will see a variety of topics to choose from. For example, when you choose the Algebra subject area, you will see topics like:

For example, for this example I chose Linear Inequalities. 

Step 3: Choose a Concept

There are a variety of concepts to help you understand the topic of your choice. For example, after I chose Linear Inequalities, there were a variety of concepts like: 

Step 4: Assign the Assessment 

Once you assign your concept, students can begin taking the assessment. There are a variety of tools that make this very UDL friendly. 
  • There are scaffolds and supports to support student learning and build background knowledge. Students can watch helpful video clips, use flashcards, and other helpful tools.
  • Challenge is built into the activity. Students can take the assessment in two different ways. They can answer questions with or without a time limit. 

  •  Students get instant feedback with helpful data analysis tools that pinpoint and address mistakes.

Want to Learn More?

See this great video from the CK-12 Foundation:

3 Ways to Use QR Codes to Make Word Walls Accessible to ALL Students #UDL

Word Walls are a great instructional tool for having students see and potentially use vocabulary terms for a chapter, unit, or school year. They are used across both elementary and secondary classrooms across the globe. Unfortunately this helpful tool can become more of a barrier than a point of access because of its design.

If students just see a word on a note card or poster, then how can they understand it or use it? What if the student is unfamiliar with the language, pronunciation, or definition? What if students cannot see or read the term? Today I want to focus on ways to make Word Walls more assessable for students of ALL ability levels.

What is a QR Code? 

If you are not familiar with a QR code, it is an electronic symbol when scanned (with a QR reader) will visit a specific URL. Anything with a URL can be accessed. This means video clips, audio clips, websites, etc. are all available. To get started, all you need is a web address (aka URL) and a free URL generator like QR Code Generator or QR Stuff, where you can customize the color of your code!

What if students could walk into your classroom, see the vocabulary term and a QR code next to it? What if students could use a classroom mobile device like an old iPod touch, a tablet, or their own mobile device?

What if you don't have technology available in your classroom? What if gave students a printed document with the word and a QR code next to it? What could you do? QR codes allow you to build scaffolds and supports to help students understand vocabulary terms. How you use QR codes all begins with thinking about the high-probability barriers that exist in your classroom and how to overcome them.Here are some ideas:

Check out the text by scanning this QR code!
1. A Text Definition? 

Barrier: Students cannot remember the definitions of terms

If you use QR Code Generator, you have the option of typing actual text. You could have students type their own definition and examples of the term on QR C
ode Generator, then generate a QR code. You could place that QR code next to the term. Now students have the ability to revisit the definition if needed.

2. Audio Options? 

Barrier: Students cannot pronounce the terms or remember the definition

For instance, you could have each of your students record a 10 - 15 second audio snippet of the word and definition using Vocaroo. There is no sign up needed. Just click record and publish when you are finished. It will even generate a QR code for you automatically.

NOTE: Vocaroo is a temporary option because recordings will be deleted after several months; however, this may not be a bad option if you are using a Word Wall for a chapter or unit.

3. What about Visual Options? 

Barrier: Students need to see a visual of the word in use

Not every student can visualize or have the background knowledge to understand the meaning of a word in their head. To overcome this barrier, you could have your students create short video clips using their tablet, use their webcam and MoveNote, or utilize YouTube clips. Google images are great ways of giving students background knowledge. When you right-click on a picture, you can copy the URL address of your picture. Take your URL and make a QR code for students to understand the term.


As new information enters our student's brains, we need to find ways to stimulate their brains and represent concepts differently. This does not stimulate:

But this does:

Why? Because it provides students with another outlet to understand the meaning of the term. No matter how you use QR codes with Word Walls, view them as a tool to connect students to learning opportunities. 

If you have a great idea, I would like to hear about it! Please share your ideas with me through social media or making a comment on this post. I am by no means an expert and would love to learn from you!

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