Example: Virtual Reading Support
This particular example was all about finding a way to support readers in such a way that assistance could be individualized, and that pacing could be dictated by the student.
A similar design (themed for the time of year) was used to read "A Christmas Carol." As both selections are plays, the theatricality of audio support (with unique voices for each character) and the addition of visuals were especially impactful for struggling readers and ESL students.
What it Did
The selection was divided into seven parts. For each part, there was an accompanying image, a short summary of events written on the screen, and audio support for a portion of the selection. Multiple variations were produced, so that some students might receive a light amount of audio (generally less than 10% of the total reading) while others might receive as much as 50%.
Why it Worked
You'll note that, once the template is created for something like this, only minor changes have to be made to each section. Change the picture, type new text, add different audio...done. Probably it's best quality is that it makes it possible to completely individualize instruction with a relative minimum of effort.
How it was Made
It all starts with a totally blank PowerPoint (or similarly designed program) slide. No text boxes (delete those) or anything.
A quick Google search for "wood texture background" provides any number of options. I'm choosing a different one here than I did for the project above. Once you find one that you like (be sure to read the section on copyrights at some point), you can literally right click copy and paste it in. You will probably have to resize it to fit it the way you like.
For all the other items that will decorate this template, make sure you include "png," and be prepared to try several options out. We need images with clear backgrounds, and that can take some looking around.
Once I've found each of the pieces I want to include in my little project, it's just a matter of resizing them and organizing them for maximum impact. I like to tilt items as well (the little green circle that appears above an object when you click on it in PowerPoint lets you do this) for the realism it offers, but it's not necessary.
Voila. Now, I need to make it interactive.
Let's say that I've decided to split this reading up into three sections. First, I copy the original slide three times.
Next, I go back to the original slide. There, I create three text boxes, labeling them as I see fit. Clicking on each one, I go to Insert -> Hyperlink in the menu at the top of the screen.
Slide Two will represent Part One, Slide Three will be Part Two, etc.
Topic such as how to add digital video or audio, as well as different ways to structure your activity, will come out of the section titled "Building a Simple Program."