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Interactive Teaching with PowerPoint

10 Ways to Add Interactivity through PowerPoint

Using PowerPoint slides doesn’t mean you are chained to the lectern and can only lecture along with your slides. Here are 10 ways you can liberate yourself and empower students to learn:

Note: Your slides do not have to be exactly the same as the slide notes you provide for students prior to class. In fact, the student slides may have several blank spaces in them. You can use your student version of slide notes to challenge students, and during class to pause for discussion or analysis or even note-taking. In other words, students may have to do some writing, thinking, discussing using planned blanks in your PowerPoint slides as prompts.

Use your slides to:

1. Before class, ask students to read, or to reflect about a topic. Ask them to record in their notes a specific aspect of the topic, e.g. causes. When they come to class, you may use your PowerPoint slides to:
• ask them questions on the material via polling with clickers,
• rank the causes from most to least significant, or
• apply the causes to a specific illness presentation.
(Your in-class slide for causes would be blank, or a later slide could have the final answer.)

2. Create “Understanding Checks” with your slides. In your slide notes for students, these slides are left as blank Understanding Checks. But in class, your slides may pose a question: “Explain the first 2 steps you would take to diagnose this presentation.” Or your in-class slide may have a synthesis or summary of information, perhaps organized for students in a chart. N.B. Pause to allow students to record in their notes.

3. Pose Opening Questions: Ask students to reflect on their personal experience with the topic or think of what they have heard about a topic. E.g. How many of you have had a broken bone? Come up with a positive and negative example of your treatment. or Respond to this statement: “Women who are abused by a spouse don’t leave because they choose not to.”

4. Prompt Focused Listing: Ask students to list as many causes of chest pain as they can either before and/or after your talk.

5. Brainstorm: Students write everything they know on a topic quickly, without checks e.g. What do you know about treatment for AIDs/HIV?

6. Ask Questions: Leave a slide with the word “Questions?” on it. Pause to allow students to ask questions to clarify and solidify knowledge. Then blank the screen. Hit “w” for a white screen and “b” for a black screen. Move away from the computer and work with students.

7. Think/Pair Share: Students reflect for a short time, then turn to a partner and discuss. Findings are shared with a larger (up to whole class) group. Use PowerPoint slide for prompt for task or question.

8. Question each other: Students take one minute to come up with a question about the material and quiz their partners. Use PowerPoint slide to prompt this activity.

9. Write a Two Minute Paper: Students summarize the most important parts of today’s session. Options are to hand this in along with any questions or unclear points for your response.

10. Ask One Last Question: Your slide states, “If you could ask one last question…what would it be?” Pause for your answers, or get the questions in writing and answer in next session, or answer online.


Adapted from Effective Handouts: Using PowerPoint to Guide Study and Encourage Active Preparation, and Twelve Active Learning Strategies, University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching and Learning,
http://www1.umn.edu/ohr/teachlearn/tutorials/powerpoint/handouts/index.html , accessed Dec. 21, 2010.