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What Happened to PowerPoint Skills for Students?



Hey awesome readers! Hope your school year is off to a good start. I'm about 6 weeks in and finally starting to feel like I can breathe. Anyway, I want to share with you a foolproof method to getting your students comfortable (and even independent) in using Microsoft PowerPoint. 

This is ideal for 2nd or 3rd grade students who are capable of reading (to find the right places to click) and enjoy learning by video. It starts with an instructional video and PPT template for adding slides and changing slide layouts. 
 So the students watch the video and then practice each skill in a pre-created PPT template. They go through the exact steps in the video until they have completed all of the tasks. Basic. Simple. Done.
The next lesson has them learn to change the font, color, size, etc. for each prompt. There is an adorable little graphic to help them choose the type of font and the color scheme. This could also be a good time to talk about design (what colors look good together). Again, instructional video, PPT template, voila!
The third and final lesson shows them how to add pictures. Depending on the version of PPT you're using, the instructional video may not apply, but the template will work with any version. I provide 4 slides with prompts and students follow the directions from the video to complete the tasks (and they even get to be creative). So there you have it, a 3-step system to help your students learn the tools in PPT so that they can create a presentation independently. If you're interested in having them complete more advanced tasks in PPT, I have a unit for that with 14 lessons and it even includes related paper activities! I know, I thought of everything :-)

So how do you get your hands on these? Click here for the 3-lesson beginners unit. If you want it all, click here for the 14 lesson unit.

Thank you so much for reading, friends. What projects do you like to do in PowerPoint? Let me know!


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Brittany Washburn
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3 Tips to Make Word Clouds the Favorite Activity of the Year


Have you wondered about using word clouds with your students? It is one of my favorite activities to do with my young and older students because it pulls in higher order thinking skills as well as technical know-how. Today I have 3 tips for you to use when planning and implementing using word clouds as a lesson with your students. 
1. You have to start with the right word cloud creator for the age group. For my youngest students I use http://www.abcya.com/word_clouds.htm because it is colorful, easy to use, and the students are already familiar with using this website. For older students, I like to use http://www.wordle.net/. It gives them more choice over their final outcome and requires a bit more tech-saavy.
2. The topic really should be something they have mastered. With my 2nd graders last year I used a word cloud as an assessment piece after they completed a unit on the Life Cycle of a Butterfly. 
3. Turn it into a higher order thinking task. Give students choice about which words to include and which words need to be put in more than once (to make them bigger than the rest). To support all learners I always include a word bank with definitions so that they spell everything correctly. For general or lower learners, they can copy and paste the word back and definitions into the word cloud creator. From there they can see how it looks and make decisions about which words to enter multiple times. 

BONUS: To really knock this out of the park, let them print the finished word cloud in color. If that isn't an option, let them save it as their desktop wallpaper. I know in my computer lab, the wallpaper goes with the login account, so anywhere they log in at school will have their super awesome word cloud. This will guarantee that they remember this assignment and take it seriously. 

Have you done word clouds before? Any advice or tips on making it a great learning experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading!

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Brittany Washburn
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[name=Brittany] [img=https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Vk7QrALFyQ8/WIAomFYEmsI/AAAAAAAASHQ/6m9I7A4xpFwuWgn80KWNkkL-z_dESOdHwCLcB/s1600/authorbio.jpg] [description=Hi, I'm Brittany. I'm an educator obsessed with teaching with technology. I love creating and sharing teaching resources for technology teachers, media specialists, and technology facilitators. Thanks for checking out my site!]

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