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The first of a four-part series on using PowerPoint to improve students' learning. In this episode, Maria looks at how you can use PowerPoint to help students actively prepare for class ahead of time.
Hello. This is Dr. Maria Yon in the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Welcome to Teaching and Learning Matters. This episode is the first in a four-part series on using PowerPoint to improve students’ learning.
We will be looking at four instructional points where PowerPoint can be useful: student preparation for class, the beginning of class, during a lecture, and ending class. The purpose of this episode is to show how to use PowerPoint to improve students’ learning as they prepare for class. If they prepare ahead of time, not only will they be more engaged in class, but learning will be enhanced.
As teachers we know how important it is for students to come to class prepared. We also know how often they are not, especially if they're asked simply to read. You can use PowerPoint to help them actively prepare for class. Here are a few ideas that you can try or adapt to your particular situation. In any case, ahead of time provide the PowerPoint slides that students need to prepare for class. They can be distributed either in hard-copy, or even better, on-line. Clearly set the expectation that the preparation is to be done before class so that they can be full participants in learning.
A common use of PowerPoint is to provide an outline of the lecture content. Obviously, if you give them PowerPoint slides that duplicate your lecture, students feel that they don’t need to come to class, especially if the lecture provides no added benefit. Instead, you might leave some subtopics blank and they are to fill them in from their reading assignment.
Then, during the lecture, you might ask for volunteers to suggest the next subtopic. Or perhaps, rather than a subtopic, they are to fill in examples that reflects their understanding of the reading assignment. As you can see, students must come to class to get the details of the lecture outline. Additionally, they participate in creating it.
Another idea is that the first PowerPoint slide might be a brainstorming question or one that that stimulates prior knowledge about a topic. Some examples are: “Tell three things you know about X.” “Have you ever used X?” “What do you want to know about X?” “Write as many characteristics of X as you can.” This slide can initiate a good discussion at the beginning of class before getting into the meat of the content.
The first few slides can be a set of questions that build on each other. The questions begin with accessing the content knowledge, moving to applying the content, then to evaluating some part of it, for example. This set of questions might be something like this: What does the author (or video) say about X?” “Can we apply that to society today?” “Do you think it's useful?” After all, we want to get students to think, not just memorize information.
You might set up math problems that are partially worked out. Students complete the problem or perhaps explain the problem on the PowerPoint slides. When they come to class, you show your slides with the correct answers or ask them to do so.
Rather than just using text, a PowerPoint might contain a short video, a diagram, ora photo to which students must respond in some way. Next might be a question or set of questions to which they respond about the content on the PowerPoint slide.
So, there are a few ideas. Please join me next time for the next episode, "Using PowerPoint to Involve Students at the Beginning of Class." See you then. And remember – Teaching and Learning Matters.
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