Tools of the Trade: Adobe Spark
by Rita Sorrentino
Need to spark up a lesson, add passion to a blog post or simplify digital storytelling for your students? While there are indeed many tools and apps to accomplish these tasks, Adobe Spark is one that offers an ease-of-use for professional-looking designs.
With today’s students, technology is second nature, and Adobe Spark is a productive tool that even young learners can use to communicate their ideas and arguments. This suite of tools provides educators and their students many opportunities to foster voice and choice in the creation of content.
A Little Background
Adobe Voice, Adobe Slate and Adobe Post were popular digital tools used by educators and students to easily create and share content. However, since they were available for iOS devices only, Android users were left out. With the premier of the web-based Adobe Spark, the tools are now available to everyone from within their favorite browser. The web version of the software allows users to create, edit and share their pages, videos, and posts anytime, anywhere.
Adobe Spark is also available as three free separate iOS apps on the App Store. They are currently working on Android versions. Adobe Slate is now Spark Page, Adobe Voice is now Spark Video and Adobe Post is now Spark Post. These three tools equip students and teachers with resources to add style to their content and share their visual messages. If you were familiar with Post, Slate and Voice, these new integrated apps will still look and feel familiar.
The best news is that with this makeover, you can use the web-based version, the iOS apps, or a combination of both. It’s free and doesn’t require a subscription, but a login is required since Adobe Spark syncs content between platforms and devices making it convenient to pick up where you left off. Students can log in with an Adobe ID, Social Media account, or Google account (including Google App For Education). The same login may be used on multiple devices and browsers. See Adobe Spark: A Guide for Schools and Educators for student age considerations, system requirements and further details.
As with other web tools and apps that teachers use to create and share content, my rule of thumb remains true: the right tool for the right task. Adobe Spark offers suggestions for using these tools with the understanding that there is no right or wrong way to use the tools to share an idea or tell a story. With these brief descriptions, students and teachers can decide what works best for them.
- Adobe Spark Video: create a video by narrating a series of slides. It is best suited for oral presentations. Each slide can have text, images, or icons to get the message across.
- Adobe Spark Page: create a web page with images and text to tell a visual story. Students can use their own photos, or select from free online appropriately filtered images. Themes, fonts and icons are included to move the story along with professional design that displays well on any device.
- Adobe Spark Post: create beautiful images by applying a theme to your text and photo. The choices of layouts, colors, and fonts work seamlessly to format graphics for social media.
Have your students (and yourself) take some time to play around with the tools to discover ways they can be used in the classroom in a variety of grades and content areas.
- Teachers can create a video to demonstrate examples of supporting an argument in writing. Here is one I created to stimulate ideas about the pros and cons of a topic: Homework: Yes or No
- Students or teachers can create a book talk to highlight content and spark interest for others readers. (The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick)
- Students can create short documentary videos about a topic they are studying through literature or social studies.
- Use Video to teach storytelling. After being prompted to write a title, users can choose to write a story from scratch, or use one of the following templates. Each template resembles a slideshow. Each slide has a theme and a prompt.
Spark Page: Richard Byrne (Free Technology for Teachers) suggests these uses:
- Create a digital portfolio with the Spark Page formats: students can organize their pages into sections to showcase videos they’ve created, documents they’ve written, and reflections on what they’ve learned.
- Multimedia timelines: students research a series of related events and place them along the timeline with images, captions and corresponding dates.
- Photo essays: students search for images and use several of them to write a story or personal narrative connecting the images.
Spark Post: Use text and images
- To illustrate a meaningful quote.
- To create classroom posters for grammar rules, text structures, writing revisions
- To upload visually appealing Adobe Post images as slides to spark up a PowerPoint presentation.
These three Adobe Spark tools are up-to-date and state-of-the-art. They can readily be used for formative assessment, group projects, procedural writing, and activities for authentic learning experiences. Will you include them in your digital tool kit? Please share in the comments below.
Rita Sorentino taught at Overbrook Elementary in the School District of Philadelphia. She studied Reading Specialist/Education at Saint Joseph’s University.Rita is a fellow of the PA Writing & Literature Project. She is currently studying Italian and writes regularly on technology issue for the pawlpblog. Rita lives in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.