The Education World Tech Team shares its picks of the best software programs for classroom use. In this article, our experts reveal their choices for presentation software. Don't miss the rest of this multi-part Ed World series: Load 'Em Up: The Best Software in the Education World!
People use presentation software to create slide shows and other types of visually oriented presentations that can be displayed on a monitor or projected onto a screen. These programs allow users to insert text, clip art, photographs, and audio into a sequence of slides and to set up custom navigation between slides. Most also include tools for creating animations.
The runaway favorites for presentation software were PowerPoint, for older students, and KidPix, for those in primary and elementary grades. Clearly, the programs our tech team members were most familiar with -- and most comfortable using -- those two share the "Gold Star" in this category.
Of the recommended programs, PowerShowPro can be used with Windows only. HyperStudio, PowerPoint, and KidPix are available for both Windows and Macintosh.
The Gold Star rating was determined by considering each program's total score along with the number of recommendations submitted for the program and the tenor of reviewers' comments about it.
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The reviews and recommendations in this article represent the opinions of only our Tech Team experts. If you would like to add your rating to theirs, or if you want to rate and review another productivity program's suitability for classroom use, e-mail me at email@example.com.
"I use Kid Pix with every grade level, from preschool through eighth grade," agreed Katy Wonnacott. "The deluxe edition has a slide show feature that, for primary students, is a great lead-in to more sophisticated presentation software. Students can create a series of pictures and present them in sequence, adding sound and transition to each slide. It's also possible for teachers to create or import pictures and then ask students to sequence them. The manufacturer supports the product with online lesson plans and additional resources."
"Kid Pix is by far the most used software in my second-grade classroom," Karen Kelly, a Massachusetts educator who conducts Kid Pix Basics for Educators workshops, told Education World. "When my students study the planets, for example, we use Kid Pix to make a planet slide show. The children work independently on informational reports, create pictures of their planets, and then type in their reports. The completed slide show consists of two slides, one picture, and one report for each student.
"Recently, I began to use Kid Pix in my interactive centers as well," Kelly added. "Interactive center activities allow students to manipulate objects on the screen or type in their answers. For those activities, I first create a template and then lock it. Students go to the computer during reading center time, work on the project, and print it out. My template remains, without their changes. For example, I created a template that says 'Draw a map of Ramona Quimby's neighborhood.' Students can create the map and print it without changing the original instructions. Younger students also use the program's moving van for activities that require them to sort pictures into word patterns. My Initial Sound Chart activity is one example. The possibilities are limitless!"
"For students, Kid Pix is the program every elementary school should have available for students of all ages," said Mary Kreul. "Students can insert original work, photos, stamps, movies, and text to create curriculum-based presentations. The program is very easy to learn and use. Students at all ability levels can create slide shows to share with their classmates. Slide shows also can be shared via class Web pages, using the Export a Graphic feature in which student slides are saved as GIF or JPEG images. Other useful options include a read-back feature and the ability to change the menu to Spanish."
"Kid Pix allows my students to use their creativity in a variety of ways," Jennifer Wagner added. "The templates are a teacher's dream! Students can even create presentations using the slide show feature. I have never, as a grown-up, had so much fun!"
"Microsoft Power Point is a hit with older students," Wonnacott added. "The variety of clip art, sounds, animations, and color appeal to them. PowerPoint provides an excellent alternative to the traditional research paper. Microsoft also supports its product online, with lesson plans and additional resources."
"Our fourth- and fifth-grade students enjoy both PowerPoint and HyperStudio," Adams noted. "Last year, our fifth graders used PowerPoint for their yearbooks, in which they did a lot of original writing. They used HyperStudio for reports and group presentations."
According to Kreul, PowerPoint also is a great tool for teachers. "The program can be utilized by everyone -- from beginners to experts," she said. "Users can create slide shows using the wizard, take advantage of already-created templates, or create an original slide show. The ability to include Internet links, movies, photos, and so on makes it a versatile tool."
"PowerPoint is by far the easiest software to use when making slides for presentation," Kelly agreed. "On parent open-house night, I put information about our curriculum and our classroom policies and procedures on PowerPoint slides. I also utilize it when teaching workshops on WebQuests. I learned to use PowerPoint through an online tutorial. What could be easier?"
"PowerPoint is a wonderful program," agreed media specialist Russ Stamp, "but so is PowerShowPro -- a great program for handling large graphics. The folks at Photoshop User use it for their presentations, which include many large files.
Available Platforms: Windows, Macintosh
Approximate Price: new-user, $339; upgrade price, $109; free with purchase of Microsoft Office
Grade Level: 2-12, adults
Article by Linda Starr
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