Updated: May 30
If you’d have asked me five years ago about what came to mind when someone said, “I need to prepare presentation slides for my lesson” I would have probably thought that this person taught in a university… and also that he/she/they were a very boring lecturer… and that I’d probably fall asleep in said class (just like in art history). Like... who teaches with slides?
Zoom in on now, and it's me. I teach with slides, every day. I feel like my first graders are missing something big if I don’t have visuals to support what I’m saying or doing. And sometimes, yes, I am standing by the whiteboard in that very traditional “teacher” way - but more often, I am with the children on the carpet or in collaborative groups, iPad and Apple Pencil in hand.
Here are my 5 favorite reasons for regularly using slides while teaching:
1.Planning through slide making - it is super easy to sequence the parts of your lesson and even move them mid-lesson when using slides. You can have 1-2 slides for each part of your lesson, type notes and reminders in the notes section - planning & presentation, done all at once. When your slides are presenting, the notes can be visible to you on your device if using presenter mode.
2. Provide visual cues and examples for your visual learners (so few people are actually auditory learners…. Why did we teach that way for so long???) Photos from class, stock images or clip art, even student work samples from the day before - really make the most of formative assessment. Images are easy for learners of any age to read, comprehend and benefit from. (Check out unsplash.com for royalty-free photos to use when you need them). One visual feature that I frequently make use of, is using text transitions to outline steps in a process. Not one school year goes by without having kids that need steps clearly laid out for them - here it is!
3.Create a habit out of differentiating - make student choice an absolute must in your lessons. Keep a slide just for that and let them SEE their choices. Endless research is showing us that student choice increases motivation. First, plan for it by allocating a slide, then we show our learners what options they have (choice of tools to help them, choice of who they work with or where in the classroom, choice of differentiated tasks, choice of topic or theme in their work).
4.Questioning - good questioning is essential in creating a culture of thinking in the classroom and I’m not sure about you, but I sure spend a bit of brain power coming up with questions. However, if I had a dollar for every question I forgot to ask during my lesson…. Well, I could probably retire early. When I plan with slides, my questions are there and I pace them using transitions.
5.Collaborate - I am one lucky teacher to be part of a dream team with other amazing educators! Sharing our slides and collaborating together, makes our work more efficient and gives us the opportunity to grow and learn from each other. Of course, you can share your slides by email, but you can also have living documents by collaborating in iCloud or Google
When I plan and deliver lessons with slides, I don’t miss a beat. I feel prepared, everything I need is in order and I definitely don’t forget the questions that I carefully crafted beforehand.
If you haven’t taught using slides much yet, I absolutely encourage you to try it a bit more, experiment with different ways of presenting visual information to your learners.
But alas, too much of anything can hurt! So, keep in mind a few things which you should avoid with teaching slides:
Don’t create so many slides for any one lesson that it dictates your teaching. Teaching with slides should make your planning and delivery more efficient, not the other way around.
Don’t let the whiteboard replace the blackboard - where the classroom sends us back in time to the teacher standing at the board. When planning, keep teacher talk time in check and include opportunities for collaboration and independent practice.
Don’t include too much text in your slides - less is more! Make the most of headings, bullets and images. Read more about font pairings for the classroom and get a guide of downloadable Google fonts here.
Don't spend too much time on design. Use colors, features and fonts that are easy to read, backed by neutral backgrounds. It's helpful to have a small collection of templates that are easy for you to work with. Check out some I've made here
Don’t get rigid and feel stuck to your slides, if things change mid lesson, be ready to adapt or give up the slides if that’s not where your students are at. Save them for another day.
Do find a program/app that works best for you and your device (on an iPad? Go for Keynote! Windows? Use powerpoint. Planning collaboratively with other teachers and want to share your slides? Google Slides is your new best friend!)
Happy learning and teaching, teacher friends!
Check out my growing collection of slide templates in the Our Yellow Bench Shop:
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