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New Teachers Online: How-To Articles: Use New Technology to Reinforce Instruction

PowerPoint in the Classroom
Ann Stephenson

One hundred eighty heads are better than one! That’s how we feel about our conservation project this year where students from first to fifth grade are participating in a study to learn more about recycling, saving water, manatees, forestry, solar power, the rain forests and going green.

At the beginning of the school year a meeting was held and each teacher of team teachers chose a conservation topic to work on. The guidelines were discussed which included the time frame and what was expected of each class to help produce  a collection of PowerPoint presentations entitled, “Conserve Our World for Life.” (Note: Clicking on the link will take you to an abridged version of the collection.)

Funding was provided and supplies such as memory sticks, ink and various other items were purchased. (Thank you Department of Environmental Resources Management (DERM), Citi Foundation, Citibank, Miami Dade County Public Schools.) The teachers attended a workshop to learn more about the intricacies of creating the components. Armed with provisions and training we set out to build our presentations.

While this may appear to be a simple process, it is basically the reverse kind of writing that children who take state tests must learn throughout their school years. In standardized tests, students are given a prompt and asked to develop three or four points, incorporate details, use rich vocabulary, and write an essay with an interesting beginning and a good closing paragraph. It is the typical bottom to top style of writing.

Creating a PowerPoint presentation, however, is very much the opposite approach. The students worked in small groups and researched information using books, magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. Each group had one part to find, such as “What is solar power?” or “How does it work?” The interest level at this point was very high. They were then shown several examples of a PowerPoint presentation and each group was asked to make a page using their part of it. Lo and behold, the teachers discovered that the students found it extremely difficult to try to express themselves with the limited number of words found in a PowerPoint presentation.

In order to help them achieve this, they were asked to search for the most important words in their articles. They highlighted hundreds of words, more than would ever be needed. They continued to condense their information and finally, after a long struggle, were able to write it with the main idea prevalent on each page.

The actual construction was easy and fun due to the fact that a couple of students wrote out all the steps necessary to complete it and the children enjoyed adding the themes, colors, clip art, etc.

We now have “top to bottom” practice in the classroom at least once a week for both reading and writing. While the debate goes on as to which style is a more effective way to teach writing, the students agree that a PowerPoint presentation is an attractive way to share information.

PowerPoint Presentation

  1. Go to start, and then go to Programs. Click Microsoft PowerPoint. Press on Design.  You will find it in the upper right hand corner. Then pick the one you like the most.

  2. Click on the box that says Click to add title. If you want to change your text layout, click on New Slide.

  3. When you need to get a new page, click New Slide. You will find it in the upper right hand corner.

  4. To add pictures go to Internet Explorer. Find the picture you like the best, then right click and then select copy.

  5. Click Slide Show and look for Animation Schemes. Then click on it and look to your right and pick a movement for your slide. Click on Slide Show and look for Slide Transition.

  6. Pick what you want for your Slide Transition. On the bottom of the Slide Transition you will see words that say Modify Transition. You get to pick sound and speed of your slide.

  7. If you do something wrong, go to edit and click undo. When you’re done or want to see how your Slide Show looks, pres F5 on the keyboard, or go to Slide Show and click View Show.

  8. If you want a picture go to Insert and click Picture, then press Clip Art.

  9. If you want your words to spin go to Slide Show and click on Animation Schemes.

  10. If you want your background in color, go to Slide Show and click Custom Animations and click on it. Pick the one you like the best.

  11. If you want to change the font highlight your words and go to Format and then click Font. You can change the font, size, and color.

  12. If you want to make a diagram go to Insert and click Diagram. Choose the one you like.

  13. If you want insert arrows, stars and/or boxes, go to Insert, then click Picture and then press Auto Shapes for more selections.

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail me.


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