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Do Slides Really Work as Study Guides?

Printing out your PowerPoint slides seems like a great time-saving hack for the classroom. A lot of teachers hand these out as a study guide. But do they actually work? 

Are they effective enough to benefit students, or are we just wasting ink? We work really hard to craft the perfect PowerPoint presentation, and we know those are effective teaching tools. But that’s for the classroom. We have to pause and think about how well they’re serving students as a study guide. 

Before we unravel this, let's acknowledge that each student learns differently. Some are visual learners, soaking up information through colorful slides, while others thrive on hands-on activities. As teachers, we support diverse learning styles and create an environment that fosters understanding.

The Pros and Cons of Slides as Study Guides

Slides can be a powerful tool if used thoughtfully. They provide a structured format, visual appeal, and the ability to convey information in bite-sized chunks. However, relying solely on slides can have its drawbacks. Students slip into the role of passive recipients of information, absorbing content without engaging.

Instead of handing out a thick packet of slides and letting students fend for themselves, mix it up! Let them use those slides during interactive activities and discussions. Include spaces for additional questions and notes, so they can make their own connections.  

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Interactive Group Discussions

Break your class into small groups and assign each group a set of slides. Have them discuss the key points and present them to the class. This activity reinforces the material and also enhances teamwork and communication skills.

2. Create Concept Maps

Encourage students to draw connections between different concepts using a visual concept map. This hands-on approach allows them to see the big picture and understand the relationships between various topics.

3. Flashcard Challenge

Transform your slides into a set of flashcards. Challenge students to create their own flashcards with questions on one side and answers on the other. Use these flashcards for a quiz game, turning study time into an engaging competition.

4. Hands-On Labs or Experiments

Depending on the subject, incorporate hands-on experiments or labs that align with your slides. For instance, if you're teaching about ecosystems, set up a mini-ecosystem in the classroom to bring the concept to life.

The Power of Variety

Slides can be a fantastic spice in your teaching recipe, but remember to sprinkle in a dash of variety. Use props, real-life examples, and outdoor activities to enrich your lessons. The more sensory experiences you connect with your slides, the more powerful they will be as a study guide. 

Let's explore some activities that go beyond the confines of slides:

1. Guest Speakers

Invite experts or professionals to share their real-world experiences with your students. Whether it's a scientist, author, or local community member, have them expound on concepts from your slides.

2. Field Trip Scavenger Hunt

Take your class on a field trip related to your curriculum and bring those slides! Challenge students to find evidence from a museum, zoo, or science center that connects with information from the slides. 

3. Creative Writing Exercises

Foster creativity by incorporating writing exercises. Ask students to write a short story, poem, or dialogue inspired by one of the slides. This reinforces their understanding and places them in a teacher position.

4. Gallery Walks

Turn your classroom into a mini-gallery by displaying visuals, charts, or student work related to the slides. Allow students to walk around, observe, and discuss what they see. This kinesthetic activity encourages exploration and discussion.

5. Escape Room Challenges

Create an "escape room" experience where students work in teams to solve puzzles or complete tasks related to the lesson content. Let them use their study guide slides, so they get practice hunting for information there. This approach adds an element of excitement and teamwork to the learning process.

The Verdict: Slides with a Side of Spice!

Slides can be a valuable study guide tool, but they should be just one ingredient in your educational recipe. So, the next time you find yourself crafting the perfect set of slides, ask yourself: How can I bring this material to life? How can I make it interactive and memorable? Make these slide study guides something they can connect with.

Written by Brooke Lektorich
Education World Contributor
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