Thoughts on Technology
In all of my classes, students made significant use of computers. Most
of this use was based around word processing and typing, although students
also made heavy use of the internet as a reserach resource and programs
such as Excel and PowerPoint. I did not make use of any special science
software programs during my time at Friends Select, although I could have
imagined incorporating programs such as A.D.A.M. into a future curriculum.
In both the upper and middle schools, I regularly took my students to
the computer room, in which there was work space for each student to have
their computer. I quickly realized that there was a range in terms of
how comfortable students were with using the computers, but that most
students were quite comfortable and some students knew more than I did.
I noticed that the computer room was often reserved by other teachers
from all disciplines, so students grew accustomed to using software and
technology for a variety of different purposes.
Marine Biology and PowerPoint
click here to view the lesson plan
In designing this lesson, my cooperating teacher and I decided that one
of our goals was for the students in the marine biology class to learn
how to use PowerPoint if they did not know how to use it already. All
of the students were going to be doing original research later in the
semester and would need to make a PowerPoint presentation of their projects
to the school community at the school's Math and Science Symposium. We
thought that during this project, we would be able to provide them with
more support and guideance in learning how to use the program effectively
than they would receive later in the semester.
There were several strengths in the design of incorporating PowerPoint
into the project:
- Students did learn how to use the program and became significantly
more comfortable with it over just a couple weeks of use.
- The use of PowerPoint provided an alternative format in which to do
a presenation. It was especially helpful for those students who became
nervous or flustered when giving an oral presentation since it provided
a clear format to refer to.
- The PowerPoint slide provided a structured and useful guiding format
for students to follow when organizing their information.
- The students who already knew how to use PowerPoint were able to assume
a teaching/leadership role by teaching others in their groups how to
use the program.
- The PowerPoint format also provided an opportunity for some students
in the class who were low-achievers on tests and in giving oral presentations
to shine in creating the design and layout of the slide show.
- At the end, the students were proud of the profressional and creative
nature of their presentations.
- Using PowerPoint increased the consistancy between presentations and
made it easier to follow along than simiply listening to lecture combined
with overheads and drawing on the board.
Howerver, there were also some problems that arrose from using
PowerPoint as a presentation format:
- Students were limited in how creative they could get with the presentation
since they only had 20-30 minutes to present and were required to give
a full-length PowerPoint presentaion.
- Some students had more technical difficulties with the program. Solving
these difficulties consumed their time, resulting in a less attractive
and well-thought-out presentation.
- When evaluating the presentations, it was diffiuclt to take into account
the fact that many of the students were using PowerPoint for the first
time. It was tempting to give a high grade to those students who had
strong PowerPont slide shows, even if I knew that groups who put together
the weaker shows had struggled with learning the program, yet still
worked hard, or even harder than the other groups.
- It was sometimes difficult to distingush between groups whose PowerPoint
show was weak because they had not put in effort and groups how had
worked hard, but had difficulties with the program.
- Although many of the presenations were attractive, it was difficult
to get students to think about the most effective way of using PowerPoint
as a presentation tool. For example, groups often wrote large blocks
of text on their slides, which made it difficult for the audience to
read and also made it difficult for the presenters to speak without
reading directly from the slide.