PowerPoint is a software that allows educators to display their lessons in graphical format to accompany an oral presentation.
PowerPoint is often used in business and in classrooms to make handouts, oral presentations, speaker notes, and outlines. PowerPoint can house an array of information including graphs, sound effects, video, text, and charts.

Introduction to PowerPoint:

Related Theory

A teacher who uses PowerPoint in the classroom would be teaching based on Cognitivie learning theory. The PowerPoint presentation can give meaning to a lesson by creating links for the student to previously learned information. It can help the student to form pictures in his/her head to remember certain facts. It can be used to illustrate a phenomenon, break down information for more manageable tasks, and organize information for the student. PowerPoint can be an invaluable tool for teachers who want to guide how their students process information.


There are various benefits to using PowerPoint in the classroom:
  • PowerPoint is easy to make and can make learning more interesting
  • If a student is absent or unable to view the lesson, you can print out or email a PowerPoint presentation with ease
  • PowerPoint allows you to add graphics, video, and music to your lesson or project, making it more dynamic and visually interesting
  • PowerPoint can present information and instruction to the entire class
  • The slide show can run automatically during open houses, fairs, or events
  • Teachers and students can save PowerPoint presentations and reflect upon the lesson in the future
  • You can spell check documents, which you cannot do when using a blackboard or whiteboard!


Some challenges of using PowerPoint in the classroom include:
  • Needing a projector and screen or monitor to display the presentation
  • Good PowerPoint presentations can take hours to create
  • If you rely on PowerPoint too much in the classroom, students may become bored and lose interest
  • You may experience technical difficulties with your computer so it's a good idea to back up your PowerPoint presentation
  • Students need advice and guidance on making effective PowerPoint presentations
  • PowerPoints are often teacher-centered and do not allow for much student interaction

Special Guidance

Here are some definitions of what may be unfamiliar terminology used along with the power point software: http://presentationsoft.about.com/od/powerpoint2007/a/ppt2007terms.htm

View the Top Ten most common PowerPoint mistakes

Current Research

A study at the University of Northern Iowa examined the effects of a PowerPoint assisted instruction on students' performance, self-efficacy, motivation, and attitudes. Half the lectures presented to two Introduction to Psychology college classes were taught in a traditional lecture format and half were accompanied by PowerPoint multimedia. Lecture order was counterbalanced across classes. Whereas lecture style did not affect academic performance, students had more positive attitudes about the course and greater self-efficacy with PowerPoint. In the class that started with PowerPoint lectures, student motivation declined after PowerPoint stopped accompanying lectures. However, student motivation did not increase after PowerPoint was added in the other class.

Lesson Ideas


There are many creative ways for teachers and students to use PowerPoint. Some suggestions are below.

Teachers can have students create interactive book reports about books they have read
Students can create a presentation based on what they learned and experienced on a class field trip
Teachers can make flash cards to help students practice spelling, math concepts, letters, or colors
Teachers can show diagrams or examples of how science concepts work using PowerPoint
Music teachers can make a PowerPoint displaying student recitals or performances
PowerPoint can be used to create portfolios of student work
A slide show displaying photos of class activities and lessons can run during open houses
Teachers can use PowerPoints to post quiz or test questions
They can be used to display vocabulary words along with photos and definitions of the words
Teachers can post a Thought of the Day on the screen for students to think about
Teachers can illustrate the progression or action of an idea or concept
PowerPoint can be used to show images for a spelling contest
Teachers can display essay or paper prompts

For additional or more specific examples of PowerPoint lesson ideas, visit the following websites:

Elementary and Secondary School Lesson Plans

PowerPoint Lessons for Math Teachers


A Teacher's Guide to PowerPoint

PowerPoint Templates for Educators

Some PowerPoint lessons for teachers:



Prezi is a new presentation program that launched in 2009. It allows for a PowerPoint type presentation, but allows for a more fluid presentation. It lets the presentor go off on tangents instead of having to follow a linear path of set slides. Because it is similar to PowerPoint, the two programs share many of the same benefits and challenges. Prezi is just a different way to present the information.

Below is an example of Prezi, as well as a description of why Prezi is a valuable tool for the classroom.

Related Theories

As with PowerPoint, using Prezi is compatible with the Cognitive Learning Theory. It can help put meaning to the lesson by easily embedding videos, and organizing information. Something that Prezi offers that PowerPoint doesn't is that if a student has a question the teacher can easily switch to a section that with that particular information allowing the information to be more quickly accessible.


In addition to the benefits that PowerPoint offers, the main benefit of Prezi is the fact that it is a free web based program, meaning anyone with access to the internet can use it. However once a presentation is complete, it can be download so constant access to the internet is not required. It is also not a linear based program. It allows the presentation to go in different ways depending on how the discussion is going. This allows a teacher to switch the lesson based on what the students need to focus on. Also by being a teacher or student, they offer an upgraded version that the general public has to pay for. This includes a larger memory cache and the option to make presentation private.


Because Prezi is only a little over a year old, it is still a new technology that people have to learn how to use. However, it is a fairly straight forward program with easy to use tutorials (below). Also, some of the functions can become a distraction from the lesson itself.

Lesson Ideas

Here is an example of a lesson plan intended for a 3rd grade science class using Prezi:


Solar System
Target Audience:
3rd grade
Standard 1: Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity, and Standard 2: Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experience
Given a description of the solar system stystem students should be able to label the planets in order with 100% accuracy.
Material/ Time Required:
Description of the solar system in wiriting (book), Computers with Prezi acess, about 30 minutes for creating planets.
Scope and Sequence
Using Prezi have students "draw" the planets using the shapes tool on Prezi. Students should read the description of the planets and try to make the planets in relation with their size and location compared to the other planets. They should include rings, colors, and special characteristics to the planet. This helps understand the differences between planets in the solar system.
Supplementary Materials:
There should be computers for each child to work on Prezi separately.
Use Prezi presentations to grade what they know about the planets and a worksheet to see if they can order the planets.

More lesson ideas can be found here: