Classroom Tool: PowerPoint

Classroom Tool: PowerPoint

Classroom Tool: PowerPoint

Let me start by saying this: I am not a graphic designer, I am not a tech guru and I am not someone who custom designs PowerPoint presentations for a living. I am a teacher—a communicator. If you are someone who relies on PowerPoint to teach, then I strongly suggest you go back to the fundamentals to develop your in-person presence. There will be times when technology fails or your slides become too mundane for students.

That being said, PowerPoint can be a very effective tool in the classroom if used correctly. My tips come solely from my experience as a teacher. PowerPoint can be used in a variety of ways in a variety of industries—but as an educator, there are specifics you need to know before developing your slides.

  1. Make your presentation in 16:9 instead of 4:3. Wide screen looks sharper and most videos you import will be in 16:9. 
  2. Stay consistent with your template and overall design. 
  3. Watch your colors. For example, red words on a black background are hard to read. 
  4. Use pictures and video to tell your story—very few words! I suggest not having more than 30% of the slide with words on it. When there are too many words, students start reading the slides instead of listening to you. 
  5. When adding photos, add “soft edges” to the picture in settings so that it blends better. Often times pictures look poorly thrown on. 
  6. Use smooth transitions that aren’t too distracting. There’s nothing worse than words bouncing all over the place as they enter the screen. 
  7. When adding video, do not import from YouTube or add a link to an online source. Internet might fail you or maybe that specific video has been taken off YouTube by the time you click on it. Always upload an actual video file from the computer you are using to the PowerPoint presentation. 
  8. Connect your presentations—whether it’s by the overall design, a consistent hashtag at the bottom or a recap of the past presentation—your lessons need to feel cohesive. 
  9. Double-check for errors. I know this seems miniscule, but a tiny mistake on your presentation is distracting to students. They’ll become fixated on it and have a hard time paying attention to you. 
  10. Invest in your own clicker. It needs to feel like your right hand and you are smooth when moving from slide to slide. 
  11. Know your content. You should know your next slide before even advancing to it. PowerPoint presentations are not replacing you—they’re enhancing you!
     
  12. Practice, practice, practice. From walking your classroom to making sure your transitions work—practice using PowerPoint!
     

Never underestimate the power of an educator!