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Create Interactive Digital Presentations for your Classroom with Sway

As a music specialist, every fall I am faced with providing eager fourth grade students and their families with the details about our elementary instrumental music program. I used to send home pages of detailed information about the program, hoping families would pour over every sentence, following my very specific instructions on how to choose an instrument, sign up for the program and get started without any questions.  Wrong!  

Thankfully, most school districts have adopted online options for teachers to post announcements and information for parents. While convenient, posting information solely in the form of written communication or documents may not be as engaging for parents and students who are used to a media-rich online experience. And when you think about all the aspects of an instrumental music program from choosing an instrument to registering students to explaining renting vs. borrowing, to purchasing a method book and supplies- the amount of information can be overwhelming.

Using Office 365 and Sway to promote your program

With so many layers to an instrumental program for beginners and families, some with no idea about how to begin a journey on playing an instrument, I decided to create an interactive presentation using Microsoft Office 365 and Sway. If your school district uses Outlook for email, you may already have access to Sway which is a part of the Office 365 suite of apps. If not, you should check out the very functional free version.

I started with a video and some documents

Creating an interactive presentation in Sway is fairly easy, allowing you to upload and use documents, images, and videos you may already have for your music program. Sway is described as a way to “Create visually striking newsletters, presentations, and documentation in minutes”- I would say in minutes is a bit of a stretch, but you can see the sway I created for my instrumental program using snippets of video, images, and links to documents.

No programming skills required

This was all done with Sway’s interactive online interface. You can begin with some cool pre-configured templates, or use “cards” to input text, images or videos. Sway then creates your presentation in real-time where you can preview your work as you make changes. You can easily change the design of each cards font, color or background, or use the “remix” function and have Sway reconfigure the entire layout randomly. When you have a design you like, you can share a link to your Sway with anyone.

Another way to share information online

I have been using my own website for years to post announcements and information, but I wanted another way to engage families with the unique aspects of my instrumental music program that was visually engaging. Sway allows me to present a lot of important information in a format that is easy to access and available anytime. And parents can easily scroll to a section they want to learn about without having to wade through a bunch of text. It’s the best of digital storytelling, interactive presentations, and engaging content in one unique application. Try it out for yourself and send me a link to your Sway in the comments below.

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