This is a guest blog from Aaron Elias, a Science Teacher from Frankston High School who has been using Sway in his science experiment lessons.
“I saw Sway demonstrated for the first time about two years ago during a presentation on Office365. I could instantly see the benefits of it for teachers of subjects like English or Humanities. However, I teach Science. As much as I liked the look and idea of Sway, I had a tricky time determining how I was going to use it in a way that didn’t feel forced. My students were already familiar with many other software packages, and so I needed to make sure that adding Sway to their toolbox was going to be beneficial. After a little bit of thinking time, I decided that Sway would be an excellent tool for creating experimental practical reports.
The implementation of this was quite straightforward, although it did require a little bit of preparation. I already have Word document versions of all of the experiments we run, and so it was quite easy to import these directly into Sway to create a ‘template’. I then shared this template with the students, who then edited and added information to create their final submission.
I think the greatest benefit for us from using Sway for experimental reports is the multimedia capabilities. Students are able to record their results in a variety of ways. They can take before and after photographs of chemical reactions, take video of an experiment being conducted, and annotate diagrams with a voiceover. Their reports become much more vivid and descriptive, and they are able to better show what they have learned. The students also seem to enjoy performing experiments in this way, as they find it much more natural to annotate an image than writing a descriptive paragraph. It seems like less work to them, but it gives me a greater insight into their understanding.
This has another interesting flow-on effect that I’ve noticed. When my students were previously working on a Word document, the reports were uninspiring. Students didn’t take much care with their responses on a boring monochrome document. However, once my students started using Sway, it became much easier to create wonderful looking presentations. This has given the students a greater sense of pride in their work, and I’ve found the effort they are putting into their analysis has increased dramatically. Overall, I’m just seeing a much greater quality of work, and the students are showing a greater sense of pride and achievement.
To get to this point, there were a couple of minor teething problems. Firstly, most of my students had never used Sway before, and so we needed to dedicate some class time to learning how to use the application. There was also some minor initial resistance to having to learn a new application when Word had always been sufficient in the past. However, this resistance became less over time. Each prac report becomes easier as the students become more familiar with Sway.
The ability to embed multimedia easily has meant that students are now able to find different ways of showing their understanding of an experiment. They are taking a greater pride in their work and seem to be enjoying the process of creating a report much more than they were. I’ll definitely be continuing the use of Sway for prac reports with my new classes this year.”
VCE Physics and Middle School Science Teacher
Frankston High School
About Aaron: As well as being a MIEE, I’m also VCE Physics and Middle School Science teacher at Frankston High School. As a Microsoft Showcase School, we have a great focus of integrating technologies into the classroom. I believe that technology can have great impacts on student outcomes and I’m constantly trying new applications of this in my classes.
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