Becoming a more effective history teacher using PowerPoint

Published: 11th June 2010
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For history teachers tired of seeing blank, even bored, faces in their classrooms, PowerPoint might just be the solution. It offers a clear, concise slideshow format that is more modern than the whiteboard and more attractive than the overhead projector for presenting history lesson plans.

Among the various forms of educational technology available, PowerPoint is one of the most straightforward to use. Its template format benefits the not-so tech savvy history teacher. Slides can be added and deleted swiftly and a basic slideshow can be set up easily to present an excellent history lesson plan.

However, to fully capture students' attention, teachers are encouraged to be more adventurous with their history PowerPoints during lessons. Sound can be added. Slide shows can be presented in various formats. Images and graphs can be attached. These added elements heighten the visual experience for students during history lessons. Revolutionary War lesson plans, American Revolution lesson plans, Cold War lesson plans, and World War I and II can come to life given the right animations and clip art.

History PowerPoints can be stored simply on CD-ROMs. This reduces the need for history teachers to carry reams of paper to and from the classroom. PowerPoints can be stored electronically and uploaded easily onto websites. They can be emailed to history students who request them and downloaded by students who miss classes or who are based abroad.

Classroom games, world history activities and multiple choice tests are facilitated by history PowerPoints. These can be easily emailed to students before, during and after lessons and then returned to the history teacher electronically when completed. This eliminates the need to print and photocopy materials for lessons.

However, for history PowerPoints to be used effectively, care must be taken. The history teacher should not become so focused on the educational technology that he or she forgets to direct the information to the students. History teachers sometimes focus more on the decoration of the slide show than on its content. That being said, history PowerPoints should not be so overloaded with content that they are difficult for students to read during lessons, nor should slideshows be reduced to a multitude of one line pages that fail to develop the material. Experts call this "Death by PowerPoint."

Luckily, teachers are able to purchase professionally made PowerPoint classes that offer plenty of advantages.

These are available for easy internet download, or can be delivered to your home or school in CD or DVD format. They can be re-used every year, giving teachers a lot of mileage from a single purchase. And, given the hours it would take a teacher to produce the same materials, the prices are low.
Purchasing ready-made PowerPoints is like having a "classroom in a box" because they include lessons, crossword puzzles, exams and everything you need to teach. They can be used in many ways in the classroom, for instance, as an opening activity, in the middle of a unit, or for review.

One of the best things about pre-made PowerPoints is that they are great for students.
These classroom materials can hold the attention of today's media-savvy students with multimedia capabilities that include audio and video. Also, they often provide additional background info that is fun for students to learn. They use primary source documents whenever possible, allowing students to view firsthand important historical pieces including speeches, videos and audio clips.

Besides being able to hold the attention of students, they are linked to national history standards and major state standards, which helps with state test prep, and can improve students' state test scores.

Written by Muireann Prendergast. MultiMedia Learning LLC provides history PowerPoints, as well as history classroom games, and U.S. History PowerPoints. Learn more at

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