I’ve been using powerpoint now that I have my computer hooked up to my classroom television and have a whole 85 minute block to fill. It has been working amazingly, way more engaging to the students than a whiteboard lecture. I don’t know why but here are some guesses:
(1) I’m teaching the screen generation. Like me these students have computers, watch tv, play video games, go to movies, and watch video clips on their ipods and cell phones. Do to the influence of tv and the Internet especially, a screen represents a stronger authority than a teacher.
(2) The screen separates me from the content so my students and I can feel like we are working together, discovering together, figuring out problems together, then together checking our work by revealing the next transition on the “almighty powerpoint.”
Here is what I’ve discovered about making great powerpoints:
(1) Keep the text short. If you fill the screen with text your students will copy it (all of it) and they wil not remember what they have copied nor will they have heard what you said while they were copying it. In fact, they might just say “Mr. Follett, can you just shut up so we can do this!”
(2) Keep their brains active. Your presentation must be full of great questions to answer, ideas to reorganize, and interesting example problems to try. I’ve been using the powerpoint phase of the lesson as the guided practice phase.
(3) I’m changing the slide in 5…4…3…2…1