Sunday, November 20, 2011

Teaching Powerpoints - Teaching Strategies & Methods For Effective Teaching

Have you ever stood in front of a new class of expectant students, with a killer lesson all planned out, only to find the projector or whiteboard has chucked in the towel? Technology is an ever present part of today's classroom, and that means teachers are having to get better at using it, even if your technological prowess usually stops at setting the video timer.

If you are new to interactive whiteboards, or trying to make the most of your electronic white board set-up, then we have some effective teaching strategies on presenting & Powerpoint to share.

1. Keep it simple
This refers to the hardware set-up, but especially to the message in the presentation itself. Overly hierarchical structure or complex slide layouts will confuse you along with your class. Make one main point, reiterate it, and then recap it at the end. Even if you have a very able class, it's always best to make one point at a time.

2. Make it readable
I've seen lots of avoidable ways that teachers reduce the effectiveness of their presentations by obscuring the message. Firstly, many projectors are not perfectly aligned, so text around the page edges may get lost. I recommend a space of an inch (or a couple of centimetres) around the border of a Powerpoint slide. Secondly, in a bright classroom text that is not high-contrast will get lost: black-on-white is tried and tested, but dark red or dark blue text work well. Don't get me started on red on green...

3. Graphics grab attention
Apart from very abstract topics, such as algebra, there is really no excuse not to include good images in most slides. MS Office clip art looks a bit amateur, so try going to a number of educational image libraries (or even take your own photos) to add interest. Even coloured blocks on the page can help break up chunks of text.

4. Interact
Powerpoint can become a weapon of mass boredom in the wrong hands; whilst it is quick to produce page-after-page of text (or picture after picture) to cover the topic, this won't add anything over and above a monotonic voice and piece of chalk. Effective teaching methods use Powerpoint to build animations, quizzes and activities to reinforce learning. A multiple choice question following a page of new idea, or an interactive animation, will wake students up. Best of all, build buttons into the pages so that more disciplined classes can work their own way through the presentation. Or you could ask members of the class to come up and select the right answer from the board, or start off an animation sequence by clicking on a big button.

5. Recycle
Whatever you're teaching, you can be sure someone, somewhere has taught it before and produced a classroom presentation to accompany it. It can be hard to find exactly what you need, but even a basic structure and a few good slides can save you much preparation time and reduce the likelihood of a slip-up. Why waste time building it from scratch, when someone else may have what you need? Try asking your colleaguer before you resort to the internet.

6. Check it
The most obvious point: go through the whole presentation on the same computer / whiteboard that you will be using in the lesson. You may find a complex animation or link that doesn't work quite as intended, or simply that the layout or structure doesn't look as good as it did on your home computer. It's so much better if mistakes are for your eyes only.

1 comment:

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