Since my last post on how I have been using sway, I have used this software in a different way in my classes. As part of our genetics unit, a colleague (Mel) and I have designed our unit resources to fit into sway. Traditionally, for the level of students we are teaching, this unit is interesting but a bit ‘dry’, especially as we are getting towards the end of our school year. To try and brighten things up a little, we have done (or are going to do) an individual sway for each learning objective (so a lesson or two), and then embedded each sway into the ‘MASTER SWAY’ for the students. Because Sway is now in the Office 365 suite of software for education, it has been really easy to collaborate with Mel on this unit of work.
Each learning goal has it’s own sway with a mixture of text, videos, files and links to animations for the students to work through. https://sway.com/d4sOm6FVRRhPUr_Q
This has allowed us to share resources between the two classes easily and effectively. It also means that as there is only one link for the students to click on, there is less confusion about where to go to. For us teachers, it also means we can have a snap shot of the whole unit visually in front of us. Because we are both authors on the sways, we can each modify them. And as sways are easy to duplicate, if we want to do slightly different things, we can still work together to make the majority of the sway, the copy it, and have a separate one for each class.
My class had the option of completing the set tasks on the sway either in their books or via a OneNote or word document. The other class has been making sways of their own. This is so we can do a little comparison of how the unit worked for each class, and what we would do as we refine it for next year.
So far, the unit is going really well. More capable students are able to move ahead at their own pace, and because all of the resources are there, they are able to learn independently. Less able or less confident students are enjoying that the can review the notes or movies multiple times at their own pace to answer questions. So we have the added bonus of giving the students more ownership and agency in their learning. That said, we are still doing some whole class activities as well.
Because sway will easily let you include a variety of resources, it has been easy to include some pictures and videos of what we have been doing in class.This meant that the activity can be revisited. And while my students were a bit shy about going on camera, they have been quite proud of the photos and videos too.
For example, when we made edible DNA today, it was super easy to take lots of photos of the process, as well as some short videos of students explaining their DNA models.
So for this style of unit design, sway has been really useful. The ease of use for staff and students means it as easier than building some web pages. This class likes the scaffolded structure of the different sways within the one unit over the ‘text book feel’ of a OneNote (I still love OneNote, but it is a little more linear in it’s layout than a sway). But for juniors, so far it has been a super effective way of delivering the content while letting them work at their own pace.