Welcome to the Teacher's Secrets Series. The purpose of this series is to demystify what teachers are looking for in an assignment when various technologies are involved. While some teachers are very clear on what they are looking for, others are not for a variety of reasons. Of course, all of this is further complicated when some students think just because they use technology they should be rewarded with a high grade. How an assignment is turned in may be changing, but what a teacher is looking for is not really a secret. It may only seem that way and using our Teacher's Secrets Series checklists can help you figure it out.
Does it sometimes seem that when you go to do an assignment, especially one involving technology, you are not sure exactly what your teacher is looking for on the technology side of things? Sure you know how to turn in all the basics of a paper-based assignment, but when it comes to technology, do you wonder a bit? Some teachers are very clear about what they are looking for and others are not. That is the way it has always been at school - all teachers are different and none of them create assignments in the same way.
Here is a checklist that can help you produce a quality PowerPoint (or Keynote or other slide presentation) the next time one is assigned. All of the items on the list may not be part of your assignment, but look at them anyway. You might be able to put them to use to improve your assignment.
1. Research Sources (if you need to turn these in) - Make sure they clearly show that you accurately researched and/or acquired:
2. Introduction - This is the first slide (or set of slides) the teacher is going to see, so be careful to:
3. Content - The content needs to be:
4. Text - Which font you use can be as important as the content you are trying to get across. Watch out that:
5. Layout - Presentations are more than text and graphics. Your layout needs to:
6. Citation - Make sure you find out if you need to cite your sources in your slide presentation - sometimes if you are handing in a written paper as well it is not necessary. But if you need to cite your sources watch out to:
7. Graphics, Sound, Animation and Video - One of the great things about PowerPoint, and the other slide show creation programs, is how easy it is to add graphics of all kinds and sound. Like everything, though, it is important that you don't go overboard. Remember these elements need to:
8. Writing Mechanics - Errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, usage and grammar repeatedly distract the viewer. Be sure to:
9. The Little Things - Make sure to look over the project directions to remember little things like the need to put the title on every screen or to include slide numbers. Make sure you can read the text on the background color you picked. It is a little thing but some many slide presentations have fizzled because of it. If you have any doubts how your show is going to look on a big screen, be sure to ask to try out a piece of it in advance.
10. Know the Secrets - Want to find out more about how to use a slide creation program like PowerPoint or Keynote? Take time before you start to look at a tutorial on the Microsoft or Apple site. You might find some cool effects you can use - but be careful not to get carried away.
It's great to use the Internet at school, isn't it? You can find so many neat sites online that will help you with your schoolwork. -But your teacher is worried about letting kids in your class use the Internet for reports because during the last project some kids just copied stuff online and handed it in as their own.
For your birthday, you got one of those little MP3 players. For a social studies project you and your friends were thinking of making a video about the meaning of Memorial Day. So, with your parents help, you loaded your MP3 player with some podcasts that showed how to create a really neat video. You planned to share the podcasts with your friends during social studies project time. -But when you pulled your player out, you were told that MP3 players weren't allowed in school.
You've probably seen the reports on television about kids dreaming up all sorts of ways to cheat with cell phones and MP3 players. Then there's copying from sites online, bothering other kids in game rooms, and sending nasty emails and instant messages.
It doesn't sound good, does it? No wonder schools are banning MP3 players, cell phones, chatting, and instant messaging. If you were the school principal, what would you do?
It's not fair, is it? Kids who cause the problems are causing you problems. So what can you do?
Stand Up for the Internet and Your Digital Devices
Why not talk with your teachers and school administrators about how kids can use the Internet and digital devices without causing all those problems that are reported in the press and/or that may have been caused by a few students at your school? Maybe you'll want to help your school develop a Code of Honor for use of the Internet and digital devices?
How about trying to get kids in your school thinking about why they may not be allowed to use some of their favorite methods of communication? Get them thinking about how they use the Internet, MP3 players, and cell phones and how they go about chatting and messaging. If they'd like to use these fun methods of communication in their classrooms, they need to convince teachers and administrators that they will use them responsibly.
It's time for you and your friends to step up and say, "There are great ways to use the Internet, cell phones, and MP3 players in our classrooms." You might tell them how MP3 players can be used to help kids with their studies. Teachers could put project directions on them and could use audio or video files to help kids learn both at home and at school. Kids who have reading problems could download books and have their players read the books to them. Teachers and kids could browse through all the educational podcasts that are available for free.
As for cell phones, chatting, and instant messaging, why not talk to your teachers about group work that includes messaging among group members? Let your teachers know that you can use the Internet and all those digital gadgets responsibly.If you and your friends work with your teachers on this problem, good things will happen.