Every teacher has their own preferred set of methods when it comes to designing creative curriculum. For many, the best results come from interactive lesson plans that get their students up and out of their seats. For others , students seem to be the most responsive to lesson plans that utilize social media as a means of engagement. These preferences often stem from varying instructional styles among educators. Still, no matter who you ask, the odds are very low that you’ll hear ‘PowerPoint presentations’ cited as a useful curriculum tool. While many teachers consider these presentations to be somewhat old hat, they can actually be used very effectively to instruct your students if you take the extra time to make them a bit more interesting. Not sure where to start? No problem, just take a look at these few tips for making your PowerPoint Presentations more engaging:
Don’t Overdo It
If you’ve ever designed a successful PowerPoint presentation or had to sit through one that left a bit to be desired, you’ll know that the way that word count is distributed is a prime difference between the two. While it’s often tempting to put as much information as you can on a given slide, this can actually be somewhat harmful, as it can lead to you reading your slides instead of presenting them. As Edutopia points out, a PowerPoint should be an addition to or resource for your presentation, not the entire thing. If, when doing a practice run through your slides, you find that you’re just mirroring the written content with no room for expansion, it’s time to slim some of them down. Try using just bullet points on your PowerPoints and elaborating to your students. This will hold their attention longer and make your presentation far less dry.
Movement, Movement, Movement
Close your eyes and imagine the standard scene when a teacher is presenting a PowerPoint to a class. What do you see? More than likely, the teacher is standing near a pull down screen at the front of the room, giving instruction to students seated in neat rows taking notes. While this may seem normal, it can actually be detrimental to your level of student engagement. Positioning yourself at the front of your classroom will allow most or all of your students to see you, but it will limit your capacity to view the ones seated near the rear. This will minimize your ability to effectively manage your classroom and reduce the odds that students are being reached successfully. The National Conference of State Legislators recommends, in any situation where a PowerPoint presentation has to be given, that the instructor move around the room. This certainly applies to educators, as walking around your classroom can help ensure even exposure to instruction for all students.
Check For Understanding
One of the greatest mistakes that educators make when administering PowerPoint presentations to their class is running through the entire presentation without checking for retention. Regrettably, your students won’t always be forthright with you about their lack of understanding or a missed concept, particularly during group instruction. One of the best things that you can do to avoid this issue is to simply insert small understanding checks into your presentation. These can come in the form of one question quizzes or interactive activities and will undoubtedly raise your students’ likelihood of understanding the material. Or, for a simpler method, insert pause slides sporadically throughout the presentation and stop to ask for questions from the class.