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Showcasing Marilyn Mossman and "PowerPoints and Slides"

"I'm surprised by how creative students can be," Marilyn Mossman told Education World. "When I introduce a project, I usually have a sample to show them, to give them ideas. The majority of students always go above and beyond what I do, however, and they often figure out new things about the program along the way. They have the confidence to delve deeper and think in broader terms."

A first grader created this slide after reading Boots for Beth by Alex Moran.

As a director of technology for Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Mossman works with students in grades K-8 to create projects that introduce students to technology and show them how to use it. Her greatest objective in designing those projects is to relate the work to the curriculum and to move the curriculum forward as students strengthen their computer skills.

"With PowerPoint, I stress two concepts," Mossman explained. "One is planning the project ahead of time, and the second is being aware and sensitive to the audience. I tell my students that although PowerPoint is capable of a lot of glitzy effects, the effects they use should be appropriate to the audience."

As an example, Mossman had fifth graders complete a project that challenged students to portray a future historian and discover artifacts from the present. The project is based on You Be the Historian from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In that serious setting, Mossman pointed out, certain animations and sound effects are not appropriate.

In another project, Hillel Day School's first graders created slide shows after reading the story Boots for Beth, by Alex Moran. The students created their own "boots" and imagined that the boots took them on adventures.

The school's third graders went on a bus tour of Detroit and used the Internet to gather information about the places they visited. They then created a scrapbook with pictures and descriptions of those sites.

After reading Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George, the sixth graders used Microsoft Publisher to make brochures about surviving the arctic tundra.

"The students love to explore on the computer," said Mossman. "It facilitates learning and makes it fun. The feedback from parents also is very positive. Often, parents assist with lessons for students in grades K-2, and they are amazed by the students' skills." Parents often tell Mossman that their children are teaching them to use the computer!

Mossman recommends that teachers keep their projects simple and be open to a variety of outcomes. "Encourage your students to explore," she suggested. "Some projects might not work out the way you planned, but each is a learning experience for you and your students. Assess your project with an objective eye and remember that learning is an ongoing process."

Mossman, a teacher for more than 25 years, has taught with and without technology. "I think that being able to use computers adds so much to teaching and learning," she said. "We are able to do so much more because of the choices technology gives us. The enormous variety of programs and the immediacy of the Internet all enhance the lessons in the classroom."

Photo courtesy of Marilyn Mossman.

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If you're a teacher who has completed an interesting or unusual activity with your class -- or if you know of a teacher who has -- please let us know about it. E-mail a brief description of the activity, along with your contact information, to [email protected]

Article by Cara Bafile
Education World®
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