I can still remember my college professor using a presentation program as he lectured to the class. It seemed so high tech back then. Flashing forward 20-plus years, the slide presentation is still around, but being utilized in a much different way. Today teachers and their students are using presentation software to deliver their information to their targeted audience via high-tech, multimedia avenues.
When I was teaching 2nd and 3rd grade, I used PowerPoint to put together information and photos that I wanted to share with my students. I also taught my students how to use the program to create presentations for our family history projects. Although I was using it in a slide show type presentation, I had never thought about using it as I do now. About two years ago I began to use my laptop, projector, and my PowerPoint software in a different capacity. Today, I use this multimedia tool to introduce, teach, reinforce, and assess many different curriculum areas.
One of the first presentations I created for use as a teaching tool introduced words to my students that they needed to know how to read. To accompany the music I play in the morning as students arrive, I also play a flash card presentation. As students settle in and wait for the rest of the class to put away homework, backpacks, and other belongings, they are sitting on the carpet engaged in the presentation that is playing. Having students actively engaged first thing in the morning allows me a few moments to check in with parents or finish last-minute center preparations. My morning presentations usually focus on letters, numbers, or words. An item will flash across the screen for a few seconds, giving students time to respond in unison.
I am able to modify and rearrange my slides as needed. The ability to rearrange the slides allows me to use the presentation over and over again. With a few clicks of the mouse I am able to change the color of the slide backgrounds and their order. My little learners think they are seeing something new, when in fact, it is the same show they see each week. Only the colors and items have been changed.
Just like the letters and numbers I show for morning warm-ups, I have fluency phrase presentations, too. I have created a set of phrases to help my students with their fluency. Most of the words in these phrases are from our sight word list. The phrases flash across the screen for approximately three to five seconds. This is enough time for students who have some sight word knowledge and phonemic awareness to read the phrases. A few examples of fluency phrases are "Look at it" and "Do you like it"? Through the practice of reading these phrases, students can improve both their speed and accuracy.
Before taking my class on a field trip to the local safari sanctuary, I presented a slide presentation of the sanctuary. In this way, students were able to see photos of the animals they would be seeing during the actual trip. By front-loading the field trip, students knew what to expect and had prior knowledge that they were able to recall as the guide was giving us our tour.
My newest presentation was created to introduce students to 3-D shapes. Using 3-D shape pictures and environmental photos, I am able to show my students how 3-D shapes are a part of our everyday environment. The real-life photos help students to make the connections to things they see every day.
I have also been reviewing number concepts and patterns with my students. The first picture shows a slide from my presentation called "What’s Missing?" Students look at the number sequence and tell me which number is missing.
These next two photos are from my "Patterns" presentation. Students observe the pattern, then tell me what type of pattern it is and what object would come next. I used to write all of these types of math problems on my whiteboard every morning. Having these presentations saves time, and students aren’t waiting for me to write the information out. Another advantage to using presentations is that I am able to present the information in a larger format, ensuring that it is visible and accessible to all students.
The great thing about using my laptop for assessments is that I don’t need to cart around flash cards or make sure that they are in the correct order. Students see the specific letter or word on the screen and read it while I mark it on my recording sheet. They aren’t able to see my recording sheet and have no idea if they are reading the words correctly. I usually give them a few words of encouragement, such as "great, keep going," even if they are reading them all wrong. I use the same format for assessing number recognition, too.
I’ve been using these presentations all year with my class and they never seem to get bored with them. Being able to change the font, background color, and slide order allows me to reuse the same presentation again and again; the best part is that my students are none the wiser.
If you haven't used presentations as a form of instruction or assessment, you should give it a try. It is a great tool to add to your educational toolbox.