Sunday, May 27, 2012

Introduction Lesson on how to use Presentation

This is a lesson I have taught in two grade four classes and one grade two class.  It is expected that students have been on the netbooks/laptops before and have logged onto SchoolZone for this lesson. 

As well, like many lessons, this could be taught in one or two class periods depending on how much time you have or the skill and/or age of the class. I was able to teach this to a grade four class using laptops in 90 minutes. The same lesson was done over two days with a grade two class using netbooks (one hour each day).


To start, I let them know that the main purpose of the lesson is to learn the technology skills they need to do a Presentation for science. I inform them that they will be doing their own presentation after they have learned the skills needed. I believe it is important to teach these skills prior to integrating other curriculum. 

I put up my Presentation Steps poster. As you will see, this is very low tech! :) As I do this lesson as a demonstration lesson in other classrooms, I leave this behind for the teacher. I also usually write on it as I go some reminders. 

Depending on the age and technology skill level of the class, I set a "finish" line for each chunk of activity. For example, in grade four I told them that once they had their laptop, they needed to get to step 4 right away. The grade two class I taught this in had limited technology experience, so we went more step-by-step.

Once everyone is at step 4, I have them put their netbooks/aptops at a 45 degree angle to indicate they are done. At this point I show a short 5 minute video about the science topic the class is currently studying. For example I showed Teachers' Domain: Beavers to the grade twos. This five minutes allowed me and the classroom teacher to problem solve any outstanding technical issues while the video was playing so that everyone was ready to go by the end of it.


After the video, I display a Notebook file that has my beaver research jot notes (for grade four it was about plants). This contains facts from the video. I briefly touch on the fact that we usually don't write sentences when doing research. I let them know we'll be using these jot notes to do our Presentation.

At this point I lead students through steps 5 - 8 on my poster. I have a star between step 5 and 6 because if a student has never used Google Apps before, they will have to agree to the terms of their Google Account. 

I also do not deal with theme in the first lesson, so that is why I have them just select OK when asked to choose a theme in step 8.

When it is time to input the information, put up another poster. The one below was used in my grade four lesson where we worked on plants.

Each time that I teach them a new skill, I ask them to have their netbooks/laptops at a 45 degree angle. I demonstrate it once. Then I have them put their screens back up and walk them through it.

The first thing I have them do is create a title for their presentation. I use a worksheet as an analogy. When you do an assignment, everyone's worksheet has the same title. That way it is easy for the teacher and students to go back and find the activity. I usually show them my Google Drive at this time to illustrate how many documents they may end up having.

If using netbooks, you may find it useful to introduce the F11 function of full screen

When you open up a new Google Presentation, it provides a default first slide. I have the students use that first slide and have them input a title and use the subtitle box to put who it is by. At this time I review the use of the "shift" button to make a capital letter. This is a skill most student in grade two are not very familiar with. As well, I introduce the "undo" button. However in  all three lessons I have taught with this format, someone has needed the undo button almost right around the time I am about to bring it up, so it happens naturally.

Before moving onto step three, I pull up the jot notes again and review what we're doing a presentation about. I identify one of the subtopics that we will be making our first slide from. I inform them we'll be doing a list for the purposes of today's activity but that their teacher may be asking them to write in proper sentences for their actual individual Presentation.

For step three, I teach them how to add a new slide by using the arrow beside the plus sign. I ask them to choose "title and body". They type a title that we decide on as a class and they choose 3 facts from the jot notes to write down (those who finish early can do more). I show them the bullet function at this time. In the grade two class I modified this slightly. They chose "title only". 

Once everyone has two slides, I put up another poster.
At this point I go back to my analogy of the worksheet. If they had a worksheet, they'd put their name on it and hand it in. How are they going to hand this in? How will they share it with their teacher?  Again, with their netbooks/laptops at a 45 degree angle, I show the students how to share their Presentation with me. I have them type my last name and have them then look for my full name. I remind them that it must have @share in it. They then press "Share and Save" and then "done".  I switch to my "Shared with me" folder on the Smartboard so that they (and I) can see their file arrive.

Now you may want to wrap the lesson up at this point. I do have one more step that I have taught as a part of this lesson. No poster for this part... yet.

The last part of the lesson is to teach the students how to insert a picture. With their screens at a 45 degree angle, I walk them through the steps. First, they are to select the image icon. This will open up a box. I direct them to the bottom "search" portion. With the grade fours I told them about the Life and Stock Images option. I ask them to leave it at Google. We discuss using keywords. I demonstration a search. I show them how not all the images will fit and that they need to think before selecting. After an image is selected, it will open very large in the slide. So I demonstrate how to size and move it. I walk them through the steps again and let them insert a few images that fit the topic. With the older grades, this allowed me to go into my Shared With Me folder and open all their Presentations and leave them a comment - "great sharing". With the grade twos I was needed to help problem solve. 


 At the end of the lesson I try to ask some follow up questions, such as:
  • how do you undo a mistake
  • how do you share
  • how do you make a capital
  • which icon will allow you to insert an image
With the grade fours, I told them I had left them a comment. Before they shut down, they were to read my comment and write a 3-4 word reply.

With all classes I let them know that I'd work with them again on the technology skills they'd be needing to do a Presentation. I also encouraged them to share what they had done with their parents at home.


I initially thought that using the netbooks would be the best option with division one students who had limited experience with technology. Even with using the F11 function, the screen was quite small. I would not use netbooks to introduce Presentation in the future.

Additional Thoughts

I try to weave into my lessons proper technology vocabulary. Sometimes I point things out specifically. So while not necessarily noted above I discuss the use of the words icon, tabs and browser.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Would If I Could But I Don't Have The Time So I Won't

The Question I Can’t Answer

In my role as lead technology teacher, I deal with a lot of potentially frustrating things. I need to keep up on the ever evolving world of technology. I need to find ways to provide useful professional development to a staff of varying technological interests, abilities and divisions. I have to deal with weird computer, netbook and Smartboard problems throughout the school. I have to help facilitate reasonable response times for weird computer, netbooks and Smartboard problems. Most days these are interesting challenges; sometimes they are frustrating. For the most part they are all solvable... eventually. The one thing that has left me stumped is how to respond to a colleague who tells me they would love to use technology in the class but they simply don’t know how to find the time.

The problem is they are correct. Using technology effectively, takes time. It takes time for teachers to learn and plan. It also takes time for the students to learn, which means it takes up precious class time. Any attempt to rush teaching technology or integrating technology leads to frustration and generally leads to people not wanting to try “that again”. I touch on this a bit in my previous blog post Direct Teaching of Technology Skills and Vocabulary.


What concerns me about not being able to provide a good answer to those who do not feel they have the time to integrate technology is that the problem snowballs for the next year’s teacher. So, if the grade one teacher does not have the students use technology, it means more work for the grade two teacher. So now something that already is potentially time consuming becomes even more so.

The Answer?

I do not have one yet. I have some ideas and some suggestions. I am also hoping to generate some comments as to what the readers of this blog think.

Small Chunks of Time Exist!

Often, when planning to integrate technology, teachers think big. They think about projects or research. I think students need a lot of experience logging onto computers so that skills becomes as automatic as tying shoes become. Providing students with an opportunity to read online during DEAR time (I bet no one calls it USSR any more!) is one way to accomplish this without giving up a lot of time. Yes, the first few times will probably not involve a lot of reading. However, my experience is that reading online is motivating enough for students to give them the incentive to persevere through the initial frustrations of learning how to log in. Believe me I am not dismissing the importance of providing students with independent reading time!

Here are some other small chunks of time I think technology can be snuck in:
  • Math facts drills.If your class does math facts drills, try doing these online!
  • Spelling practice.
    Have your students practice their words once a week using something like
    Students can type their spelling words in Word and print to take home.
  • Using Unitedstreaming videos (EPSB teachers).
    Teach your students how to log into Discovery Education using SchoolZone. Instead of playing a video you want to show them on the Smartboard, have them view it on a laptop!
  • Buddies.
    If your class does buddy activities, this is a great time to encourage technology use. They could read online or do math activities online.
  • Geography in social studies.
    Have students use
    Google Earth to explore a topic in social studies. You could have students work in small groups of 2 or 3 using a computer or laptop. Read the great post Google Earth in grade one for more ideas.

Start Small and Start Early

One of my colleagues had a personal realization the other day. It was early May and they were discussing one major computer project they do each year. She looked at me and said, “we really need to start this earlier next year.”

Technology Clubs

One strategy I have used in my school is to run technology clubs to help develop the technological expertise in our student population. This leaves the teacher feeling supported in the classroom when using technology. Each month, two students come from each class to learn how to problem solve different technology problems (laptops, Smartboards, netbooks, etc).

A Critical Outcomes School Scope and Sequence

At my school we have started the process of developing a critical learnings scope and sequence for ICT outcomes. As a part of this process, staff have identified one or two skills they expect or hope that students from the previous grade will have.

A Disclaimer!

The above activities and suggestions are not about how to integrate technology effectively in your classroom. They are suggestions to get started with technology in your classroom and to allow your students to develop some automaticity with basic computer skills which will free up time when you are ready for that integrated technology project!