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Tammy Dunbar: Have You Tried App-Smashing?


by Tammy Dunbar
Expert Educator Columnist, USA

teachergeekThe choice was easy: either take a bucket of cold water to the head (for which I would definitely be holding my breath) or create a video response that might be breathtaking.

For many years, I have enjoyed trying different ways to combine creations from various digital applications and software and put them together to make memorable presentations. This ALS Ice Water Challenge was my chance to do some real app-smashing.

what-is-historyApp-smashing is combining content from a variety of apps and software to create something both visually engaging and exciting. How much more interesting is a presentation when it includes elements like specialized graphic art or humorous video clips? (Or Mrs. Dunbar doing her best Betsy Ross impression?) App-smashing requires creatvitiy and problem-solving skills in order to figure out a place where all your creations can come together. And best of all, app-smashing can be done across platforms.

Back in the early days of home computing, working across platforms was not easy. I can still remember the thrill of figuring out a complicated wiring that allowed our Macintosh to talk to our PC computer. Now it’s easy to create a collage on an iPad and send it to your PC to use in a PowerPoint.

With the introduction of Sway and Office Mix, Microsoft has provided an easy way to get into app-smashing.

Sway is the online presentation website that allows the creator to bring in content from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Bing image searches and even upload or embed your own material. It’s even possible to import (you could say “smash”) a PowerPoint into a Sway to make it an even more exciting product! (Fun fact: it you know the exact YouTube URL, you can copy-and-paste it into the Sway YouTube insert bar to get the exact video you are looking for.)


Office Mix (a new and free downloadable add-in for PowerPoint) allows the designer to record video content to go along with the PowerPoint and even record it for viewing online. With the ability to insert polls and quizzes into PowerPoint, Office Mix allows anyone to smash additional content into their PowerPoint presentation that can not only inform the viewer, but also the designer, as it creates a database of responses recorded.

It’s easy to start app-smashing on your own, too. Create word art with this week’s vocabulary words and insert it in a PowerPoint to start a conversation to activate prior knowledge. Have students add a little humor to their PowerPoint reports on historical figures by creating movie posters or magazine covers on to save and insert. Use Office Mix to spice things up with specially recorded video content (as featured in last week’s blog).

Whatever you do, it’s time to show both students and teachers that it only takes a little time and creativity to craft presentations that can take your breath away.



Speaking of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, here is the finished product of my app-smashing. I wrote my script out on Microsoft Word, used Garage Band to bring together a Karaoke mp3 and my voice, grabbed video from YouTube, uploaded personal video, captured screen time, devised a special effect using ActionMovieFX, and put it all in an Animoto so the transitions would be in time to the music. Plus, I never got wet!

tammy2Tammy Brecht Dunbar, M.Ed., S.T.E.M. teaches 5th grade in Manteca Unified School District and Pre-Service Technology at Teachers College of San Joaquin (Stockton, CA). She will be presenting at ISTE 2015, CUE 2015 and CTA Good Teaching North 2015. Tammy has presented for CTA Good Teaching North (2014), Cap CUE (2014), all three California Subject Matters Project Conferences, Capitol Area Science Education Leaders, and several San Joaquin County Office of Education events as well as others. She won the 2010 eInstruction $75,000 Classroom Makeover Video Contest, wrote a successful Enhancing Education Through Technology grant for Manteca Unified School District in 2008, and was Teacher of the Year in MUSD in 2006. She is on the MUSD Superintendent’s Technology Committee as the district embarks on their “Going Digital 2015” project.

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Have You Tried App-Smashing? | Teacher Geek is Chic!

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