Fill in the Blank

For this post I will share the idea of using the technique of filling in the blank while presenting. This is a great way to build discussion into a presentation, or help students interact with their notes.

For this example I am going to leave out one of the things an introduction is suppose to do in an essay. I am starting with a blank slide and adding a textbox but will create a blank for one of the answers.


Next, I will add another textbox with the answer.

Words set the tone

Changing the font, color, or style is up to you. I do suggest that you keep it consistent for the whole presentation. Animation is the next step. For this example I am keeping it simple, but if you have a number of fill-in-the-blanks on a slide I suggest using the “Animation Pane” to help with organizing the timing and effects.

Animation Tab

For the textbox “set the tone”, I am going to have it appear after a click, with a 2 second delay… to add suspense when I am presenting.

Animation Options

And that is it. The blank in the statement gives me a moment in the presentation to engage the students in different ways.

You can use this option for more than statements, options like Venn diagrams or labels for a picture. Fill-in-the-blanks work well with PowerPoint Mix and online courses. Share how you are using this technique in the comment section.

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PowerPoint Mix

One of the great ways to share PowerPoint is the free cloud-based add on, Office Mix. You will create an account online, but also download a “Mix Tab” add-on to your PowerPoint application.

Sign in Options

New Mix Tab

The Mix Tab houses some of the same options PowerPoint has in other tabs, but gathers all the options that you need to create an online presentation, like the Slide Recording option, in one area.

Slide Record Window

Even though you can record your whole presentation at one time, I suggest recording each slide individually. This will help with errors in speaking or writing on a slide. Also, it allows you take a break. And once you have uploaded the presentation to your online account (will share that in a minute), you can update your presentation easily. Even if you change one slide.

Another option the Mix Tab brings is the ability to add check for understanding questions right into the presentation. Side note: Unless your school buys into this option, the student’s answers will not be recorded. They can see their answers, but it does not affect their grade.

Here is an example from one of my presentations on commas (with feedback):

Comma Questions

The link to your online account is found by clicking the world icon with “Upload to Office Mix”.

A new window will open on the right side of your work area (you may need to sign in again to your Office Mix account).

Upload Options

If this is a new presentation, just click Next. Office Mix will use the name you have saved this presentation as for the title. You can edit this once it is loaded into your Office Mix site.  If you are updating a mix, you will then see a list of your presentations to choose from.

List of presentations

In most cases, it only takes a few minutes for your presentation to be ready in your Office Mix account.

Offcie Mix Window

You will need to change the Permission & Sharing option to Unlisted or Public.

Permission Setting

This will also allow you to use the embed code for your LMS or to send a link to students to view the presentation.

Embed Code

I would not worry about the size option because the students can click the full screen arrows to get a better viewing experience.

Using the Office Mix add-on is a great way to flip your classroom, embed presentations, or create an interactive lesson for your online courses. I did not cover all the options in this post, but feel free to drop me a question or comment in the comment section or with Twitter.




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PowerPoint Image Design

I am going to continue with the image ideas for this post. We are going to use shapes to create a different look for any images you might use in your PowerPoint.

I am starting with a blank slide.

Blank PowerPoint Slide

Next I will choose a shape.

List of shape icons


For this post I am going to keep it simple and use the rounded rectangle option. Once you have done this, you can get pretty creative with shapes and layouts.

Rounded Rectangles

I suggest copying and pasting the shape, saves time. When you build a more creative layout this step will take more time.

Next step is to “group” all the shapes.

Highlighted area of rectangles

Once you release the mouse the “Drawing Tools” tab should become active.

By grouping the shapes, the layout becomes one shape.

Next step is to click on the “shape fill” option in the menu bar. We are then going to fill the shape with a picture.

List of options for shape edits

You will go through the steps of choosing the image that you want and it will automatically fill the shape.

Chess pieces in rectangles

Now you have a unique design for images in your PowerPoint.

You can create an Alt Text for the image by Right Clicking on the shape to get these options:

When you click “Format Shape” you will see a new window on the right side of PowerPoint.

Formatting Window

Click on the resize icon to find the Alt Text option. You can also save your creative layout as an image to use in other applications. When you Right Click on the image there is a “Save as Picture” option.

You can experiment with different shapes, or with the line options, to create unique images to enhance your PowerPoints.


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PowerPoint Theme

For the next couple of weeks I am going to share some options with PowerPoint that are fun and creative. I hope these ideas help you create some unique presentations for your lessons.

For the first post I will share how to make your own “theme” for PowerPoint using a background image. (There are lots of ways to customize themes, this post will at least get you started.)

First start with a blank presentation.


Next click on the “Design” tab.



You will see your Presentation and a “Save Current Theme”. I recommend saving the new theme now, instead of at the end because you never know when you might get interrupted.

The save option defaults to the template folder, this will allow your theme to show up under the custom tab when you create a new PowerPoint.

Next, we are going to format the background (still in the “Design” tab).

Choose “Picture or texture fill”.

Click the “file” box.

(Don’t worry if the background fills with a texture, it will be replaced with the image).

Your image should fill the background. The image is anchored at the top right. You can manipulate the image with the following options.

Once it is positioned well, you can change the transparency with the slider option.

Then click “Apply to All”.

In my example I had to offset my image to the left 76%. When it looks right, make sure to go back and save the theme again. (Open the window for all the designs. At the bottom is the save current theme option and overwrite the file.)

You now have a custom theme you can use for your lessons. There are other options for creating your own theme, but this will get you started. Next post will look at creating some custom looks for images in your PowerPoint.

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Update to Symbaloo’s Lesson Plan Site

Symbaloo has been hard at work making some great updates to their Lesson Plan site. I will cover some of the basics in this post. You are going to like this.

First update is the starting window. There is a search option to find content with a keyword, but if you are like me, you already know what you want to build so you will need to drop down to the bottom of the window where you will see three other options to get started on building your lesson.

Add an Activity

The window for adding your own resource is now compact.

Tile Activity Box

Tile Activity Box

As you can see the title, description, resources, and quiz options are blank waiting for you to complete. Just click on the description part to get the option box for each section to get started.

Resource Options

Resource Options

Quiz Question

Quiz Question

The coolest part to the whole update is the way to build paths for students. For example, you can direct a student on a certain path depending if they get the answer wrong or right. By clicking on the X and Check mark you can toggle through the options.

Quiz Path

Quiz Path

Student View of Quiz Option

Student View of Quiz Option

As you can see the student will not know which path they will be taking until they answer the question.

Also, if you will notice at the bottom of the layout there are new options for working with the whole lesson. You can choose to set a path with a “space” to the next step by clicking on the path icon (second icon). You can go back and add content to that blank space later.

Path Options

I think you will find that Symbaloo has done a great job designing a way to personalize lessons for your classroom. Share your story with me in the comment section.

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Day 24: You


There is nothing more important than you in the classroom. Your passion.  Your creativity. Your guidance is what allows technology to be an engaging learning experience for students. I hope you have enjoyed this series. Please contact me with your examples or questions. Let’s make 2017 a great year.

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Day 23: Aurasma

For day 23 I have to share a site I have talked about before, Aurasma. Since the goal of this series was to spread a little cheer I had to include it. My family and I have so much fun with this app.

In that spirit, I decided to make an aura for you (the Easter egg for this post is the aura).

Steps to View:

1.Download the Aurasma Lite app.

2. Create an account (if you don’t have one).

3. Search for  “Jamey Boelhower ” with the search option and subscribe to my channel.

4. Point mobile device at the picture below to activate the Auras.  Tap the blue play button for a Christmas song.


Are you using Aurasma? Share your story in the comment section below.

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Day 22: PhotoScan

christmas_tree_icon_instatuts_comFor day 22 I am sharing a new app that I have only tried once, but am planning on using all break, PhotoScan, from Google. I’ll let Google inform you about this app.


Again, I have only scanned one photo, but wow, it worked like a charm. I enjoy having printed photos, but having a digital back up is priceless. I can use my older photos in media projects, or create unique photo gifts. If you want to preserve some of your older photos, then I recommend downloading PhotoScan. But I warn you, you are going to spend a lot of time on memory lane (that’s part of the reason I only got one photo scanned).

Icon designed by Cucu Tudor-Ionel

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Day 21: Typic

xmas_sticker_03I post a lot of photos. I post a lot of photos with my own quotes and quotes from other sources. My favorite app to make these creations is Typic. It is the most used app (besides the camera) on my phone. I know that there are other apps that allow you to add text, and some of them are free, but Typic just works for me. Typic also has an app for kids and babies. The apps have fun options, like stickers and emoticons. To add some flare to your photos, check out Typic my day 12 tech cheer app.

Flickr Album

Icon designed by Delacro

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Day 20: Ted Talks


I love TED Talks. My tech cheer for day 20 is what TED Talks represent, sharing ideas. When I taught a psychology class, I designated Fridays for watching TED Talks. I could find a talk on any subject we were studying in class for the students. (They would use while watching the videos).

I choose the talk, “Hi, I’m Scott,” to highlight the way TED Talks can show how important everyday is, but I am going to end with a TED Talk, “To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful (language alert), that makes me cry every time I see it. That is the power of TED Talks, they reflect the beauty and pain of our lives.

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