Cool For School


Obviously you're a teacher with a pioneering spirit. So, no doubt, you'll want to teach your students how to create multimedia presentations using PowerPoint. Before you get your students all excited about funky animations and nifty sound effects, you'll have to equip them with a few PowerPoint essentials.

First and foremost, you have to talk the talk. Introduce your students to PowerPoint vocabulary by doing a live demonstration of all the different terms you will be using. Explain the difference between a slide and an object. Show how a transition is a part of a slide show. And just to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength, follow-up your demonstration with a worksheet.

PowerPoint with it's Ribbon and 7 main tabs is packed with tasks that lead to even more tools. There's also the new Microsoft Office Button and Quick Access Toolbar. Don't worry about introducing your students to everything. Concentrate on explaining how to navigate the Ribbon, Microsoft Office Button and Quick Access Toolbar as well as covering the essential tasks in the four main tabs that will be used most often: Home, Insert, Slide Show and Animations.

You might want to consider introducing the features of the Ribbon tab by tab. When your students need to format text or add graphics, show them which tab, which Group and then which subtask is needed, and teach them the function of each necessary Command button. Teaching PowerPoint one tab at a time keeps your students focused and gives you a nice, systematic way of introducing the program's features and functions.

Unfortunately, you can't alter the number of tabs in the Ribbon to be able to introduce them one by one. It will be a little hard to keep students from clicking every button in sight, especially when they realize you can see instant previews of functions before applying them, such as themes and transition effects. You might get a little crazy trying them out yourself.

While you cannot alter the Ribbon, you can minimize it. It's the best you can do to hide tabs until you want to introduce them. Double-clicking on a main tab will minimize the Ribbon for a short time. A single-click on a given main tab will make that one entire tab visible again. Double-clicking on a main tab will make the whole Ribbon appear. To keep the Ribbon minimized longer, select the Minimize the Ribbon option from the drop-down list in the Quick Access Toolbar. However, double-clicking on any main tab will deactivate the minimize feature, making the whole Ribbon visible once more.

Before you introduce PowerPoint Help to your students, consider whether it will be beneficial to them. Will your students be able to read and comprehend the topics in PowerPoint Help? Can they navigate through the Help files without your assistance? Do you have enough class time to let students explore this feature? The ScreenTips feature will provide helpful hints to students as to what the commands in the Ribbon can do.