I wanted to title this article ‘Why I like to use PowerPoint for my lesson deliver…well, sometimes……and then I get sick of it because variety is the spice of life after all!’
It’s becoming more challenging to entertain students during lesson and activity time. I often feel like a Hi5 presenter when I’m giving a lesson. It’s exhausting. You see, I now have to compete with IPad apps, t.v. X-box games and so on. It used to be that, as teachers, we would struggle to entertain children because we were teaching content and the students would be playing with real toys or outside running around. Nowadays, we compete with fast-moving images, bright colours, songs and other highly entertaining apps. This was ok as a graduate teacher, and in many respects, I still put on my entertaining hat, but it is tiring!
A few years ago, I attended a professional learning session at a primary school that specialised in Explicit Direct Instruction. They were following the ‘John Fleming’ method and they had very good results to show for it. I was lucky enough to be able to watch some lessons. If you’re a teacher, this is a golden opportunity, it’s a bit like spying! The lessons were extremely fast paced (I thought I was fast…), clear and quick to address any off-task behaviours. A few times a student was put on the warning chart and I didn’t even observe the off-task behaviour! I must admit, I had times when I struggled to keep up with what they were doing. It blew my mind that the students could match this pace. What all classes had in common was their use of PowerPoints to deliver lesson content.
When we arrived back at school, there was an unwritten expectation that we would use PowerPoint over the use of a Smartboard to deliver lesson content. Of course, lessons had to actually match the EDI format shown by the Hollingsworth & Ybarra book (referenced below). I got busy creating a lot of lessons. It took a while sourcing clipart more than writing the content, but then I was catering to a Kindergarten class at the time.
In a PowerPoint lesson, I was able to include Hollingsworth & Ybarra’s steps:
- Learning Objective
- Activate Prior Knowledge (we call this a warm-up and we quickly revise previously taught content)
- Concept Development
- Skill Development
- Lesson Importance
After students engage in the PP lesson, they would go to learning centres (if in Kindergarten) or table top activities to engage in guided and independent practice opportunities. Hattie’s meta-analysis ranked direct instruction techniques at .60, which is a good size however, all 7 lesson design components were followed in examples to give this effect size.
What I like about delivering PowerPoint lessons:
- When creating PP lessons, I spend a lot of time thinking about the content and scaffolding the content. I think of nearly every scenario that I might encounter.
- The WALT (We are learning to) strategy assures that I am clear about student outcomes and often list more than one. The Hollingsworth & Ybarra frame this as the lesson purpose (which I probably like this more than the WALT but this is what most schools prefer).
- I can usually differentiate skills in the WALT section.
- Lessons seem to flow and have a clear progression as skills are gradually built upon.
- I can make lessons visually appealing with the use of clipart or having hyperlinks to YouTube clips for demonstrations.
- Using a PP lesson frees my hands (as I’m not holding flashcards, puppets or any other items).
- I seem to stay on track with content more and the students seem to know that they don’t interrupt in lesson time (the “I do” part) until it’s time for sharing.
What I am mindful of:
- PP lessons can be overdone. A balance of strategies required, no matter how great the PP lessons are. Students do get sick of one delivery method. I have actually had students roll their eyes or groan when they were about to have a PP lesson. So, I vary it more with using hands-on objects, introducing the topic with a story or a song.
- PP lessons are great for “visual” learners (and maybe even auditory) but we do need to cater to students who learn differently (as mentioned above, and also for students with additional needs).
In a nutshell, I often find that using PP as a lesson tool, gives me more “teacher clarity.” This is primarily due to the time I have spent planning the lesson beforehand, not essentially just the use of the smartboard! Hattie gives “teacher clarity” a very high effect size of .75. It makes sense, doesn’t it? Knowing what you need to teach, how to get there, what tools you will need and how to cater to difficulties is a massive bonus. Do I always feel this way? Heck no!
I think a balance of strategies is required, even with Explicit Direct Instruction. Loosely using a “I do, we do, and you do” framework is a quite simple and modified way to do this. Sometimes this is not required in every single teaching session. When I reflect on my previous teaching years though, I can see that I often skipped the “we do” and sometimes went straight from the “I do” to the “you do” and certainly didn’t do enough of the activating prior knowledge. So, using these strategies, I fell, has certainly assisted me to be a better teacher. I must point out here too, using the EDI strategies for students with learning difficulties and disabilities is so important!
All the best,
Hattie, John. (2008). Visible Learning. Abingdon, Oxen: Routledge.
Hollingsworth, J., & Ybarra. S. (2009). The Power of the Well-Crafted, Well-Taught Lesson. Corwin Press.
Who is John Fleming?
- John Fleming, Deputy Chair of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, Deputy Principal at Haileybury College’s Junior School, and Director of the Haileybury Institute.