Bev's adventures in ICT

Archive for November 21, 2009

Power to the PowerPoint!

The majority of us use Microsoft PowerPoint as a teaching tool and we also encourage pupils to use is – sometimes to excess. PowerPoint is one of those applications that you can get started on quite easily and get stuck in a rut with. If you get stuck in a rut, the use of PowerPoint within the classroom can become boring very quickly – for both teachers and pupils.

I have a few PowerPoint pet hates (I’m sure you do too) . Lists of bullet points, in a boring font, placed on a boring background. Huge amounts of text that are then read out loud by the person delivering the PowerPoint. Over use of custom animation, animated gifs or motion paths (can be very distracting and some pupils get transfixed on the moving bits). I could go on. I’m pretty sure you could too!

One thing that has transformed the use of PowerPoint has been the Click n Drop macro for interactive PowerPoint Activities . The macro is actually titled Drag and Drop but you don’t actually drag the items – just pick them up with a click, move the mouse, and click to drop them elsewhere. The above example contains instructions but you will need to set your macro security settings to medium (or low) for this macro to work. The only issue some have highlighted is the inability to include custom animation on the same slide as the macro, but I don’t really see this as a problem. Just be creative in other ways!

I began to use this macro a few years back when I supported pupils with significant SEN within a mainstream setting. One child in particular had great difficulty with dragging and dropping (used on so many activities) and the macro gave me a way of creating activities linked to class topics that the child could manage to complete independently. For example, I created a simple activity where the child had to drag the correct amount of coins into a box to show the price of an item. Or a sequencing activity for story work that didn’t involve the need for scissors and glue, as seen here: Bear Hunt Click and Drop Story Map. Although I had a plethora of specific SEN software at my disposable I found that much of it is visually unappealing or (and this is just my opinion) can be boring after it’s been used in every lesson. The use of the PowerPoint macro really enhanced the child’s learning and, a big plus here I think, is free to use and easy enough to set up; making it a handy addition to any teacher or support assistant’s ICT collection.

Of course I’m not the first person to blog about this fantastic adaptable resource – I’m aware that many other have. I still think, however, it’s worth mentioning again as I believe it’s not been highlighted as a possible idea for creating resources for pupils with SEN. I also think, that with a bit of creativity, the activities can look just as appealing to pupils as those activities that have more going on. This fun example for use in literacy session is just one example of how it can be made visually appealing and usable in classrooms.

And, just while we’re talking PowerPoint here, I’d also think the ‘type on slide’ facility is one worth exploring. There are basic instructions here (although these only show you how to use it for captions) but you’ll get the idea if you have a look at this example when viewed as a slide show: Type on Discussion Writing Frame . As a general rule I would save these (for pupil use) as PowerPoint slide shows rather than presentations – it makes it far more obvious to the child how it needs to be used. Unfortunately this means I have to get them to copy and paste the resource into their folders before working on them or I have to do it before hand! This doesn’t take that long though and the usefulness and appeal of the resource makes up for it.

I’ve also been encouraging others to create multimodal PowerPoints in this style to support activities across the curriculum and you can download an example of one (if you’re not familiar with the idea) here. Please be aware that this zip file is quite large (17MB) and may take time to download. The idea presented makes it worthwhile though (I hope). Again these files are saved in slide show format and the videos are within the same folder as the show -I just found this easier as I created them at home and wanted to bring them in ready made. When creating them at school you could insert the video from another folder if you wished. Again, because of the way they were created, I had to copy and paste the folder into each pupil’s individual science folder so they could work on their own copy, but this was not really a problem. The fabulous thing about this type of resource is that even  pupils who can only type basic sentences (I’ve had Year 1 children accessing them) can have a go at using them. All I can say is that the children seem to love them and that’s good enough for me.

Unfortunately I am a distinct PowerPoint bore, and could willingly waffle on about other whizzy things that you can do with PowerPoint: using triggers and motion paths, making speech bubbles talk, creating mouse skills activities…I could go on for hours. I’m not going to though. Best to save it for another day! I do hope that you’ll find some of these ideas useful though and start looking at PowerPoint in a different way! It doesn’t have to be boring!