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The second of a four-part series on using PowerPoint to improve students' learning. In this episode, Maria looks at how you can use Powerpoint at the beginning of a class to engage students with the day's material.
Hello. This is Dr. Maria Yon from the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Welcome to Teaching and Learning Matters. You might have tuned in to the previous session on how to use PowerPoint to help students prepare for class. This is the second of the four-part series on using PowerPoint.
This episode offers suggestions for using PowerPoint at the beginning of class. The beginning of class is a critical point in any class session. It’s the time when we get students’ attention and prepare them for the remainder of the class period. Several things should occur when we begin class. First, we get students’ attention by focusing on the topic and the objectives for the class session. Then, we help them understand the relevance of the content and the learning activities in which they’ll be involved. Finally, we elicit their prior knowledge about the topic or ask them to identify questions that they would like to have answered by the end of the session.
So, how might PowerPoint help us to do that? Here are a few suggestions. The opening of a lecture should facilitate the connections that students make between what they already know and the new content. One strategy is to open the lecture with a question on a PowerPoint slide. Give students a minute or two to think about their response.
Then, ask a few members of the class for the answers. The opening question might be one that was given to them previously in preparation for class. This strategy effectively focuses students’ attention on the day’s topic. It also provides the instructor with useful feedback on what students know and don’t know about the material being presented.
Instead, you might do an introductory think-pair-share activity. It consists of three steps. First, use PowerPoint to pose a prepared question and ask student to think or write about it individually. Then, students pair up with someone sitting near them and share their answers. Finally, choose a few pairs to share their ideas with the entire class. This strategy can help students organize their prior knowledge and brainstorm questions.
Another strategy is focused listing. It’s an activity in which students recall what they know about a subject by creating a list of terms or ideas related to it. The topic is presented on a PowerPoint slide. Students are given two or three minutes to make their lists. You might move around the room and look at lists as they write and share a summary of what you noted. Or you might have students randomly share the content of their lists before moving on with the lecture.
Finally, your PowerPoint slide might contain a short list of true-false statements to which students are to respond. You might have them pair up with another student to compare responses and discuss differences. Then open a discussion with the entire class about their responses. Tell them that the answers to these questions will be addressed during the lecture. This helps them to focus on the material to be presented. You might have the students answer the questions again at the end of the lecture and discuss new understandings.
So, there are a few ideas for how to use PowerPoint at the beginning of a class session to engage students with the material. These strategies work well with classes of various sizes and can be completed in two or three minutes.
Join me for the third episode in this series — Using PowerPoint during a lecture. See you then. And remember Teaching and Learning Matters.
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