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Invigorate Your Presentations
Teaching has come a long way from the stand-and-deliver method of presentation. Over the years, we've experienced a "strictly chalk board" method of instruction, overhead, transparency, and slide modes of presentation, and our present-day "high-tech" presentation techniques. Although speech, slate, and slides maintain a viable presence in today's classroom, teachers continue to search for better ways to visually stimulate their audiences—and for good reason. An optic-driven society has come to expect it. Fortunately, the local computer store, with its myriad of software choices, has made it all possible.

There are as many reasons for using presentation software packages as there are products on the market. Advantages to the instructor/user are:

  1. Personal professional development. Preparing presentation software is a skill in demand in the real-world job market.
  2. Supporting reform. Increased use of instructional technology is recommended by major reform initiatives in science education.
  3. Increased comprehension and retention. Visuals with oral presentations have been shown to increase audience comprehension and retention of the materials being presented.

The two most common software applications in use today are HyperStudio, by Roger Wagner Publishing, Inc. and PowerPoint, by Microsoft, Inc. After several hours experimenting with either of these programs, you will be able to make your new presentation "transparencies" in one-tenth of the time.

  • HyperStudio
    HyperStudio is user-friendly. It is a proven package with all the bells and whistles kids love. There are large assortments of pre-made sounds, graphics, and ready-made templates from which to choose. It costs $100+.

  • PowerPoint
    The most widely used presentation software is PowerPoint. Chances are that you may already have it on your computer if you have invested in the Microsoft Office Suite. PowerPoint is an industry standard and a proven performer at most schools and businesses. It has gone through a number of upgrades, so any pre-existing bugs have been worked out. Because of its extensive use, we are going to offer step-by-step instruction on the use of the PowerPoint program.

To create your first presentation, choose either the AutoContent Wizard or Pick a Look Wizard. Wizard programs make seemingly difficult operations effortless. Each new window in the AutoContent Wizard has specific instructions to allow easy navigation. Just keep clicking the "next" button (a rule of thumb with almost any Wizard), to be led through the series of steps. When you have selected the desired presentation style, you will have called up an editable outline. Insert your presentation text into that outline, frame by frame. Each number on the outline creates a new slide. To finalize, click on the "Finish" button and your presentation is ready for viewing. Click on the word "View" in the menu bar and choose "Slide Show." You are now able to sit back and admire your presentation.

No matter which presentation software that you choose, you will experience a great deal of satisfaction from the presentation exercise. You will have advanced your technical knowledge while addressing current science reform initiatives, and an appreciative audience will thank you.


*Adapted with permission from Rawls, G.J. (1998, March). Something Old, Something New...Presentation Software to Liven Your Show. Missouri Science news Notes, 4 (9), pp. 12-13

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