Editor's Note: While Microsoft's PowerPoint has become so popular it practically counts as a generic, this lesson works using any presentation software. The most popular free presentation software would be found in the Open Office package at OpenOffice.org.
Your students have just completed some terrific reports on cold-blooded animals or Native American culture or photosynthesis. You'd love to incorporate a technology component into the activity. You've never used graphics software, though, and you certainly don't have time to learn new software now! What's a technological newbie to do? Included: Ideas for simple, teacher-created projects to build with your students!
You can use Microsoft PowerPoint to create interactive presentations containing text, art, animation, and audio and video elements. It is probably the best-known presentation graphics program available. If your computer arrived pre-loaded with Microsoft Office, you most likely have PowerPoint too. Just click Start and select Programs to find it.
PowerPoint's widespread availability isn't the only reason for its popularity, however. "I use it because I like technology and the choices it allows," LuAnn Kaiser, a teacher at Nebraska's Wausa Public School, told Education World. "With PowerPoint, you can animate words and graphics, add sound effects, include a QuickTime movie -- it's just awesome! PowerPoint captures the students' attention and helps keep them interested!"
"The kids like it," Kaiser added, "because it's so easy to use and because the ability to integrate graphics and text means there's always something new to learn and do."
TERRIFIC STUDENT PROJECTS!
Kaiser generously agreed to share some of her favorite PowerPoint projects with Education World users.
"One of my students' favorite projects is Today in History," she said. "Students research an event that happened on [a particular] day in history and then create a ten- to 15-slide presentation about it. They find graphics online or create their own. Most students incorporate sound effects in their presentations as well. One of the best ones was about the St. Valentine's Day massacre with Al Capone. The kids loved it!"
"We also use PowerPoint during creative writing classes," Kaiser noted. "For example, in the Visual Poetry activity, students read a favorite poem and create a PowerPoint presentation depicting a visual interpretation of the images in the poem.
In addition, students are currently writing and illustrating children's stories."
"In tech prep," Kaiser explained, "students create resume-style presentations that have even included pictures of them working at their job sites. In speech class, they create slide shows to accompany their oral presentations."
IT'S NOT JUST FOR KIDS
PowerPoint works well in the classroom in a number of ways.
RANTS AND RAVES
Although most of the applications we will cover in this series will be as new to me as they are to you, I did have some minimal (although not recent) experience with PowerPoint. Because I rarely find, however, that using software applications is as "unforgettable" as riding a bike, I was surprised at how quickly I learned enough to create a reasonably attractive, interactive presentation.
PowerPoint was both easy to learn (or relearn) and to use. The toolbar tools are easily accessible, clearly labeled, and relatively foolproof. Some of the shortcut icons seemed less intuitive than others -- I never would have "guessed," for example, that the star icon indicated the animation tool. The rollover labels for the icons cleared up any momentary confusion, though. Most important, no action is "undoable," so you can correct your mistakes easily -- even if you save them. (Do remember to save often!) In other words, you won't spend several hours creating the perfect presentation only to find you can't correct a typo, insert an additional slide, or add an animation.
USE THE TUTORIAL
As I explored the PowerPoint software, I used it to create a brief tutorial introducing new users to the basic functions of the program.
Follow the directions below to view the presentation.
Remember that this is an introductory tutorial; PowerPoint offers many features and options beyond those covered here. Once you're familiar with the program, you'll be able to
HELP YOUR STUDENTS CREATE PROJECTS
When you've finished your own presentation, you'll probably be ready to help your students create theirs. Encourage them to start with short presentations that contain only a few slides. Remind them to keep the text and graphic images simple. A plan never hurts either.
Project-Based Learning With Multimedia provides a workable outline for planning and completing multimedia projects. Advise students to follow the guidelines below.
For an evaluation tool to use for evaluating the writing content, technical content, technical organization, and communication skills used in student-created PowerPoint projects, try http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/pptrubric.html or http://www.artteacherconnection.com/pages/powerpointrubric.htm.
Article by Linda Starr
Copyright © 2000 Education World
Last updated 06/14/2011