Incorporating PowerPoint in the Elementary Classroom

Using technology can make a vast difference in the effectiveness of your classroom instruction. Many teachers fail to use technology simply because they are not aware of the potential it offers to enhance learning. Granted, some classroom technology today is very complex and often too expensive to be practical in a small Christian school. However, much can be accomplished with a simple setup of a digital projector and a computer, with internet access and PowerPoint or Keynote.

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PowerPoint is an excellent tool to improve classroom instruction and help create interesting lessons. A well-made presentation will captivate students and increase their enthusiasm for learning. Visual learners will benefit greatly from being able to see key facts, pictures, and diagrams.

Learning to use PowerPoint is not difficult. If computers intimidate you, ask a colleague to show you how to create a basic PowerPoint, or sign up to take a class. Even if you do not consider yourself “computer savvy,” you can easily learn to make a PowerPoint presentation.

Some elementary teachers mistakenly believe that PowerPoint is useful only to help high school students take lecture notes. While PowerPoint is very beneficial in the upper grades, it is also profitable for younger students. There are many ways to incorporate PowerPoint into different academic areas of your elementary classroom.

English

Rewrite the sample sentences in the teacher’s manual to reflect the names and personalities of your students. I often create sentences that relate to field trips or school events we’ve had recently. A student is much more interested in identifying the parts of speech in a sentence about him or his friends. Many of my students who claim that English is “boring” love to participate when we have a PowerPoint for the lesson with entertaining sentences.

If you are able to project your presentation directly onto a whiteboard, you can use a dry erase marker and write on your presentation. Students love to participate by coming to the front of the class to circle or underline parts of speech.

Type the journal entries of a few students each week exactly as they were written. (I always remove the name of the author.) I display the entries on the screen, and we revise and proofread them together. This simple exercise has been immensely helpful in allowing students to see common errors in their writing and gain ideas from the gifted writers in the class.

Science and History

Incorporate brief video clips into your PowerPoint presentation. For example, include a clip of man’s first walk on the moon when studying the Space Race, or an animation of the heart pumping blood when studying the circulatory system. Include helpful pictures, diagrams, and maps into your presentation. Help the students follow current events by showing pictures from recent news stories.

Math

Create presentations with pictures, charts, and graphs to help the visual learners in your class. For example, a geometry presentation for younger students may consist of pictures of different shapes, while a presentation for older students might include formulas for finding area and perimeter. Instead of writing practice problems on the board by hand, use PowerPoint to display the problems. If you re-use your presentations in subsequent years, this will save you time.

Reading

Create a PowerPoint with pictures and background information from the story you are reading. Students love to see pictures and maps from the setting of a story. Design a PowerPoint of vocabulary words. Use pictures that will help the students remember the word meanings, along with creative sample sentences.

Bible

Instead of writing the text to hymns and songs you sing during Bible class onto poster board, type the words into a PowerPoint presentation. This will save you both time and storage space in your classroom. Use PowerPoint to review a memory verse. Design the slide so that a few words disappear with each click.

Review Games

Use PowerPoint to play Jeopardy or Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Online templates allow you to simply plug in the questions you would like to use. Students love to play these games!

When you begin to create presentations, don’t reinvent the wheel. Many curriculums come with pre-made PowerPoints for each chapter.  Also, search online to see if another teacher has already created a similar presentation. A borrowed PowerPoint will often need some adjustments, but it is much quicker than starting from scratch. Check into these options before designing your own. As you design, keep your presentations clean and simple. Cluttered slides with too many special effects will be a distraction to your students. Lastly, remember that technology sometimes fails. Don’t become overly dependent on your PowerPoint presentation, and always make sure you have a back-up plan. Although incorporating PowerPoint can take an initial time commitment, the benefits are well worth the effort!

How do you use presentation software in the classroom?  

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Copyright Journal for Christian Educators, Winter 2013 edition.  Reprinted with permission of the American Association of Christian Schools.

Rachel Richmond graduated from Bob Jones University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Middle School Education (specializing in Language Arts and Social Studies). She teaches at Arrowhead Christian Academy in Glendale, Arizona.