PowerPoint templates for students

June 18, 2007

I really don’t like assignments to “do a PowerPoint presentation” for kids who are not expert at all on their subjects — there is too much room for too much unintentional mischief when people who know little about a topic are to use a tool designed for people who know too much about a topic.

Among other things, kids who have never had to do a five-page report, nor an outline of a report, do not have the experience to stick to five bullets of less than five words per slide. And don’t get me going on “fireworks” animation of letters to explain things like the death of Medgar Evers, or the evils of child labor.

But if you want some ideas, the Paducah, Kentucky, school system offers some templates for student reports, and a few presentations teachers could use as foundations, here at “Connecting Teachers and Students.” There is advice, too. *

Use these as starting points, please. If you can’t improve on them, you’re not trying (no offense, Paducah — I hope).

A good exercise for you would be to spend an hour reading suggestions from Presentation Zen, and then edit a couple of those presentations from Paducah to make them more, um, zen reflective.

Remember, “template” is just a part of “contemplate.”

(I hope I don’t regret having pointed out that Paducah site to you.)

Update, November 24, 2007: Take a look at the video included in this post to see an effective use of a presentation tool like PowerPoint — though this one was done with Apple’s Keynote. Check the links in the post, too.
Update March 8, 2008:  Paducah’s school district archived the PowerPoint stuff.  I have changed the links above to link to the archive sites.  I replaced “www” with “old” in the URL.

Quote of the Moment: James Madison, on the growth of education

June 18, 2007

Two Madison quotes today: James Madison dollar, as struck for circulation

I congratulate you on the foundation thus laid for a general System of Education, and hope it presages a superstructure, worthy of the patriotic forecast which has commenced the Work. The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment of the blessing.

James Madison letter to Littleton Dennis Teackle, March 29, 1826; from the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia

No feature in the aspect of our Country is more gratifying, than the increase and variety of Institutions for educating the several ages and classes of the rising generation, and the meritorious patriotism which improving on their most improved forms extends the benefit of them to the sex heretofore, sharing too little of it. Considered as at once the fruits of our free System of Government, and the true means of sustaining and recommending it, such establishments are entitled to the best praise that can be offered.

James Madison letter to Gulian C. Verplanck, February 14, 1828; from the Madison Papers at the University of Virginia

Both quotes are contained in James Madison’s “Advice to My Country,” edited by David B. Mattern, University Press of Virginia, 1997

Image: James Madison Presidential Dollar as struck, image from the U.S. Mint (Department of the Treasury) via About.com

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