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Making PowerPoint Interactive without using “Jeopardy”

December 28, 2010

When I search for ideas for making a PowerPoint class presentation interactive, Jeopardy types of activities often come up. There are places on the web where a person can download a template for Jeopardy, and a few years ago I downloaded one myself, but that kind of time sink does not suit my purposes for most classes. Instead, I want some interactive activity that can act as a change of pace in a lesson and refocus students on the lesson.

  • One quick way to make a lesson using PowerPoint interactive is insert a review question, listing, or writing activity. For example, if I am teaching subject-verb agreement, I might present a sentence and ask whether it is correct or not, challenge students to provide a correction, or rewrite the sentence correctly.
  • Another means to make a lesson interactive is to challenge students to a timed activity. Create a timer within PowerPoint. Insert the timer after a question or activity and directions. For example, I could have students write down as many prepositions as they can in one minute. I would give the directions and start the timer. At the end, we would review the prepositions they came up with or give them a list that they could compare their list with.
  • With a lesson on complex or compound sentences, I put the first half of the sentence on the slide and ask students to complete the sentence correctly.
  • I like to use diagrams and have the students complete the diagrams with example sentences. For example, I give a diagram of the different kinds of nouns such as proper, common, noncount, and irregular plurals, and have the students complete the chart with examples for each type. For this activity, I prepare a handout in advance.
  • When we come to a reading practice in a textbook, I have students work on the practice either alone or in groups. This can be either timed or untimed. We review the answers together on the PowerPoint slides.
  • With abstract and concrete nouns, I present a list of nouns and ask the students to categorize the nouns on their own papers.
  • I like using iClicker to make a lesson interactive. If the equipment is available, then I write some multiple choice questions and insert them into the lesson for the day. This breaks the lesson into quick reviews and allows students and me to check for understanding. iClickers provide very good feedback for adjusting a lesson.

These few activities show some ways to integrate interactivity into PowerPoint. I try to incorporate these activities because of the difficulty of paying attention to even the best PowerPoint presentation for any length of time. More importantly, I include the activities because it isn’t about the the PowerPoint lesson; it is about what they do with the material in the lesson.

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