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New Teachers New York:
Lesson Plans by New Teachers, For New Teachers
Biology Paired PowerPoint Presentations  

Ms. Julia Fusco is a first year biology teacher at Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences in Brooklyn , NY . She teaches Evolutionary Biology, Advanced Placement Biology and Regents Living Environment.

Created by: Julia Fusco
Location: Leon M. Goldstein High School for the Sciences
Grade: 11-12
Subject: Science/Biology

If you have any questions regarding this activity, please contact Julia at:  JuliaVFusco@aol.com

Aim: For students to create PowerPoint Presentations that help teach Biology.

Instructional Objectives:
1) To incorporate technology in the Advanced Placement Biology classes by training students in the use of Microsoft PowerPoint.
2) To gather research on topics using legitimate internet sites.
3) To prepare students for the Advanced Placement biology exam by having them teach each other new material using Microsoft PowerPoint.

Day 1

The students received two handouts:
1) Requirements for Term Project (described below) and
2) How to use Microsoft PowerPoint. (Available on http://catalyst.washington.edu/quick/ppt.html ) Students receive a handout as well as a sample PowerPoint presentation to use as a guide.

A class discussion of how to do a PowerPoint presentation in class, as well as how to work with the PowerPoint program, takes place.

Day 2

  • Time is scheduled in the computer lab.
  • A PowerPoint presentation is demonstrated by the teacher using a projector. (For this lesson, I created a PowerPoint presentation on DNA and RNA, a topic we were finishing up that week.)
  • Students are instructed on the use of Microsoft PowerPoint and are asked to create three slides on what they did that day to get them used to using the program. Students experiment with various animation techniques and slide formats, so that they become familiar with the program.
  • Students are given time to research their topics online and print out information for their presentations.


Project requirements
Create a PowerPoint presentation on any topic on the syllabus that we have NOT covered in class yet this year. Your presentation must be 10-15 minutes in length and must answer the following questions:

1) What is your subject and why is it significant in the study of biology?
2) How does this topic relate to other topics we have discussed in class?
3) What is still unknown about your topic?
4) How does your topic relate to the world in general? (Economics, scientific research, people, etc?)
5) How is your topic historically significant? Who were the "major players" in developing the theories and methods behind your topic? (For instance, if you choose genetics, you may want to discuss Watson and Crick, Rosalind Franklin, etc.)
6) Where is the current research in your topic headed? Why is there an interest in your topic among scientists?
7) What other significant advances or points can you add concerning your topic?

Students are to work in pairs. Each person is responsible for ½ of the presentation. Along with their slide presentations, students must submit a bibliography of sources and an outline of the presentation. This is due approximately one week before the scheduled presentation. An outline consists of the major topics discussed, as well as a brief description of each. The outline is a GUIDE for the presentation, not the "meat" of the project.

  • ***A Note about PowerPoint Presentations:
    • All slides should have the same or similar backgrounds.
    • Follow the 7-7-7 rule- No more than seven words to a line, seven lines to a slide and spend no more than seven minutes on any one slide.
    • Do not clutter your slides with words. Slides are meant to punctuate your lecture, not carry it for you.
    • After presenting, each student is required to answer questions from the class (and me) concerning their topic. Each student must ask at least two questions.

Follow up
After each presentation, questions are asked concerning each topic, and any points that were missed in the presentation are covered by the instructor.

Compile a list of resources and create an outline for your presentation.

Students are evaluated using a rubric created on Rubistar.com. They are evaluated in nine categories with a maximum of ten points given for each. The tenth category is a peer evaluation form with a maximum of ten points. The other nine categories are:
1) Length of presentation
2) Slide content
3) Creativity of slides
4) Appropriateness of content to subject area
5) Division of labor, pair interaction
6) Presentation presence (speaking ability, preparedness, dress)
7) Respect given to other groups presenting
8) Thoroughness of topic coverage
9) Overall presentation

Students were also given an essay test consisting of three questions from each presentation. (There were four presentations)

Standards Addressed by This Unit

  • Designs and conducts scientific investigations (e.g., formulates testable hypotheses; identifies and clarifies the method, controls, and variables; organizes, displays, and analyzes data; revises methods and explanations; presents results; receives critical response from others)
  • Knows that conceptual principles and knowledge guide scientific inquiries; historical and current scientific knowledge influence the design and interpretation of investigations and the evaluation of proposed explanations made by other scientists
  • Understands that individuals and teams contribute to science and engineering at different levels of complexity (e.g., an individual may conduct basic field studies; hundreds of people may work together on a major scientific question or technological problem)
  • Knows that creativity, imagination, and a good knowledge base are all required in the work of science and engineering
  • Knows how to import, export, and merge data stored in different formats (e.g., text, graphics)
  • Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual students.

The Students
The students who completed this project were mostly 12th graders with a background in regents biology, chemistry and physics. They are familiar with the Internet, and some have already completed PowerPoint presentations in other classes. For some, this was their first introduction to the program. By using pairs instead of larger groups, there was less of a tendency to let one do all the research or answer all the questions by themselves.

Students have a range of topics they can choose from, so they get more excited about reporting on those topics they have a genuine interest in. Students reported that information they learned from their classmates was explained in a way they could understand, because it came from their own peer group.

This is a fun lesson and really allows the students to show their creative sides in a subject (Biology) that rarely allows them to express themselves artistically. It can also be adapted to any other subject area.

If you choose to use this lesson, be aware that while your back is turned, some students may be surfing websites they should not be! To cut down on this, I took off one point from their presentations each time I caught them on irrelevant websites. They quickly learned not to go to them! Also, our school has brand new computers and projectors, and yet we still experienced technical difficulties using the equipment. Be prepared to work on other material if you find your servers are down, as we did!


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