Are there presentation alternatives to PowerPoint? Use #GoogleDocs and Empressr

I got tired that my students thought they could only make slideshows using Microsoft Powerpoint. Instead, I made these tutorials for them on alternative sources:

Black Water Middle Art students gathered all of their thoughts and learning processes from their recent paper mache project and I then wanted them to document and share their findings.

Tuesday P’s

I posted all of the class pictures on the Posterous site, and then shared the link via Edmodo. The students had to download at least five pictures of them working on their mask.

Giner P’s

The following week, the students received a variety of links to web 2.0 presentation software. I felt like just about any student could make a Powerpoint, but I thought they could instead create a narration for their findings and then embed the slideshow into the class wall on Edmodo.

Brent C’s

Even though I posted about seven presentation sites, the majority of the students utilized 280 Slides, Empressr and/or Google Docs (especially if they had their own Google account).  

Trenton and Daniel’s

Unfortunately, I feel that a majority of the students were too distracted looking at all of the pictures and/or working with the software was a little hard for them to work with. I created some tutorials to use 280 Slides and Empressr which you can find on a recent post in MY POSTEROUS site so that you can create your own presentation and post it on Edmodo.

Matt R’s

Overall, I really liked the software. I would probably ONLY allow the students to use Empressr next time, as you can create embeddable slideshows into your favorite web site along with a narration. The narration can automatically go through the show so it automatically advances.

Listed below, you can view some of the slideshows and share in on their findings


Caleb and Nick –

Samantha H Jonnie – Alexis – Austin – Taylor –

regina –


jenny h – jacob/damon- demonte- maria p – braeden- Tyler C –   Rebbekah H – Kamryn L –

How can you make an online presentation with Empressr?

If you would like to use the site 280 Slides you can make an online presentation and turn it into an embeddable piece of work on your favorite web site. The site is really easy to use, all you need to do is plug in an email (won’t have to check it) and you can make a simple presentation that can be embedded into a site or downloaded as a Powerpoint/PDF file.   (No audio allowed though).

Watch my video tutorial below to find out how:

You can watch this video to find out how to login/register for a new account, upload your pictures, create new slides, type out your info and then embed it into your favorite web site such as Edmodo


Empressr is also a great online presentation site. It is also free, but just takes a bit more info when you start to register. What I like about it better is that you can animate your slideshow and create narrations that can automatically go through the whole presentation. Afterwards, you can embed the slideshow into your favorite site, but it is a bit trickier (watch video #3 to understand why)


Tutorial 1 – You can view this tutorial to find out how to create/register for an account. Afterwards, it is simple on how to upload your pictures, create new slides and even use your web cam for narrations or take pics/video of you.

Tutorial 2- After you make your voice narrations, you need to know how to edit and insert them. I also provide some tips on how you can get your slideshow to automatically play with the narrations like a smooth movie. Finally, at the end, I show you how to save, but don’t worry about the embed code part…..

Tutorial 3 – Turns out there are issues when just “embedding” your presentation from Empressr when you are all done. There is a trick that you got to do in order to use the embed code from your main “my empressrs” page. View this video to find out how to publish your video to Edmodo

What are some great web sites and open source programs for your classroom?


Come check out my latest lens on Squidoo, where I incorporated a lot of the web 2.0 and open source software articles that I wrote on my Bo Gorcesky profile page on Associated Content.

This lil Squidoo covers articles on web 2.0 sources to help edit film such as Jaycut along with a video tutorial and other great digital storytelling tools. I also have several articles on the great educational social networking tool Edmodo.

I also discuss some great open source programs like GIMP, the free alternative to Photoshop. SO again, check out my latest Squidoo page on web 2.0 and open source software articles so that you can make your classroom a better one for the 21st century.

How to create an atmospheric perspective painting using the free DrawCast app on your Apple device

It was really nice to have some time to sit back and relax to paint. I haven’t really done this before (posting via email to posterous)so bare with me and feel free to check out this post often as I post more pictures and turn this more into a tutorial


Step 1:I was really inspired by the overall amount of nature around me on the back porch. I framed my shot of the trees to decide how strong would the composition be.



By using the free Drawcast app, (which you can check out here) you can make an excellent painting. There are a variety of free drawing apps for the IPad/Iphone, I really like Drawcast due to drawing on layers, variety of brush sizes and being able to adjust the transparency of color or layer and you can instantly post your art to Facebook.

You are going to want to create a background that has a watercolor wash effect to it, and we will then gradually add layers to properly show Atmospheric Perspective.


This is a picture that we took while in Asheville. Notice that the colors at the bottom are nice and dark, and they get gradually lighter and more blue the further away from us. Just remember DARKER=CLOSER,  LIGHTER=FURTHER SO what I did to create the illusion of atmospheric perspective, was by creating a graded wash with my palette and stylus.


A graded wash is used in watercolor painting to help show depth or value. I created a “wash” by clicking on the color wheel icon, and adjusting the size of my brush to 100 and the intensity/translucence to 100. You can also use a dark shade of a blue for the bottom, but as you start to fill the canvas and you make back and forth strokes, you should gradually lower the intensity/translucence. Basically, by the time you reach the top of your canvas, you should have a light shade of blue. And if you want to make a color darker, just go back over it with your stylus.


You can also add a few random bushes here and there to break up the open area. Once your background is completed, click on the gear icon in the upper left hand corner. Select “save to photo library” so that you can utilize this saved picture for later.



Create a new piece of art in the app. Make sure you click on the icon in the upper right hand corner fo the screen and then select Midground.

I primarilly made the trees on my midground. On my image above, it is shown with my background. Once you complete this drawing, you can create a special added effect by clicking on your “midground icon” and then adjust the intensity/translucence of that layer as well.



If you look at the image above, I combined the two layers together. To get this going, click on your layer icon in the upper right hand corner and select “set new background”

This will take you to another screen to select your background. Choose the option “photo from my Photo Library”

Open up your Photo Library and select the background picture that you created back in Step 2 (you can also use another photo for a more realistic background. Finally, click “Done” on your Layers window, and the two images are now together.



You can see from the image above that I have already drawn on the foreground layer so that it was primarily the leaves/greenery of my composition.

To do this, click on the layer icon in the upper right hand corner of your screen. Then select “draw on foreground.”

The foreground is the closest thing to you, so when you color it, make sure you make your colors fairly dark, at least they should be darker than the midground and background. You can accomplish this by adjusting the transparency of the layers and the colors that you paint with.



If you look at the above picture, this is my completed work with all three layers and I have signed it.

After completing your foreground, double check to make sure that all of your layers, colors, opacity, etc. is all set.

You can click on the gear in the upper left hand corner to share the work that you have completed whether email, saved to your device or right to your Facebook page.

You can also go into the layer window and select “Tools” and you then have the option to merge all of the layers into a lattened image. ONLY DO THIS IF YOU ARE FOR SURE YOU LIKE YOUR WORK AS YOU CAN NOT UNDO IT.

Best of luck and can’t wait to see what you make



Confessions of a Fifth Year Teacher

Wanting More and Looking Out on the Horizon


Another year has gone by as a teacher, but what I find interesting, perhaps almost concerning, is how little the number of students that I really made connections with or was really upset that I would not be seeing them anymore. I know in the past, the start of June had been a bittersweet time, but this year I didn’t give out books or write sappy messages of farewells, just a few posed pictures and brief comments in a yearbook or two.

Perhaps I was just running out of time towards the end of the school year, or that this is the school year that I have been much more diligent to NOT be in school as much…….


If you would like to read the rest of the article, check it out on the Yahoo Contributor network HERE

Can you teach art with video games? Use Gamestar Mechanic


Hoping to get video games into your curriculum? Check out how I did it with my Yahoo Voices article How to make video games with Gamestar Mechanic

You can check out this game that I created below by using the awesome web tool, Gamestar Mechanic. It isn’t the greatest game in the world, but the fact that I could create one and post it on the internet to share is pretty amazing, and why I am looking forward to teaching this to my students next week.

Check out my PREZI based from their resources and it was featured on their site

Check out my YouTube playlist on getting video games into the classroom


For some reason, the embed code won’t work on Posterous, but if you follow my LINK TO THE GAME, you should be able to check it out on their site.


What is great about Gamestar, is that it is well balanced between playing, learning and creating. The site ACTUALLY encourages its users to play the video games through their tutorials called “Quest.” The Quest is a little story that has the look and feel of a Japanese Manga, but as you play the game, you begin to learn the basics of video game design and you unlock characters and items to include in your games.

In FACT, you can’t even publish your game until you complete all five episodes. So, as a teacher, I feel that this is a great (and free) tool to use with my students. Some of the games may be a little simple and cheesy, and the kids may be a bit frustrated that they can’t import/create their own characters, items, music or backgrounds, BUT it is an excellent way for your students to create something utilizing 21st century skills, heavily bound by STEM standards, read comics while they learn and share their work on the internet for the world to play.

And coming from a gamer’s perspective, for someone who grew up with a Nintendo Enterntainment System in their home as a kid and has since gone through the several generations of video game consoles, I think is a great way to hook the students into their own interests. If you have a student that is interested on some day creating their own games, check this one out to just get used to the whole theory and practice behind game design, but if you really want to get crazy with video game programming, then I would recommend Scratch (which is a bit more complicated)

Don’t forget to check out my other Gamestar Mechanic posts such as The Classroom’s Arcade and Commercial

Can you use a cell phone as a digital storytelling device


Using Yodio in Your Classroom to Record Cell Phone Narrations and Create Embeddable Movies

In another article of cell phones in the classroom, in hopes of finding engaging projects with my students, I was informed about a web site called Yodio. With Yodio, you can register your cell phone with their
site to record narrations. Those narrations can then be attached to images in the form of an embeddable movie called a Yodio. By pairing up the audio with the still image, you can also create transitions in between the “tracks” and then publish the film on the Yodio site so that the world can see.

If you would like to read more, click on this link…

to my associated content page. And again, thanks so much to everyone for clicking so that I can make money off of my writing

Don’t forget to check out my YouTube playlist on using Yodio