Power in PowerPoint – Creative uses for PPT in the BE classroom

Workshop Review: Leo Waters – Photos by John O’Dwyer



Review by Leo Waters – Photos by John O’Dwyer

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed (although not as bushy-haired as in his photo), Kees Garman dazzled us with what can be done with PowerPoint. Kees is on a mission to create a resource that people can readily use in the classroom, 111ppt-slide based activities, and this workshop was an ideal launching pad for his creative concept.

This ELTABB event was a first time cooperation with the VHS Mitte, taking place in a spacious room with its own kitchen, and Kees was expectant of a large crowd. Unfortunately, only 11 turned up, but this by no means detracted from the workshop. The crowd itself was a mix of ELTABB members and VHS teachers, all with varying degrees of expertise in using PowerPoint. This was going to be a challenge, but Kees astutely managed this with his enthusiasm and honesty.

This inaugural workshop was aimed at promoting his 111-slide project, showing us some of his ideas for classroom use and getting us to think about how we could use these techniques in our own classrooms. Firstly, he showed us some of the slides he had already made, and how he had applied them to the classroom. They were very impressive, showing, amongst other things, how vocabulary could be highlighted and practiced in different ways. He then showed us how he created the slides, and this is where a number of us got lost.

There are so many functions in PowerPoint that it is easy to quickly become confounded and confused, and hard as I tried, it was tough to keep up with the key processes of creating these slides. I wasn’t the only one whose eyes glazed over, and during the break one participant left, saying it was way above his head and he couldn’t take in any more. Kees took this to heart, and asked the rest of us how we felt about the material and how we wanted to proceed. The general feeling was that he had definitely shown us what could be achieved with PowerPoint, but emulating this was probably too much for most of us. Perhaps showing us some simpler functions would be a more effective use of time?

So, Kees set to work on his new task, and the majority of us visibly relaxed. He showed us how to embed video and sound into PowerPoint (showing us some dramatic examples of its effectiveness), and how to  use and manipulate animation. He asked us to think about how we could use some of these techniques to spice up our classes. There are certainly many possibilities to do this, such as creating little games for vocabulary revision or showing video clips to highlight key ideas/language. Luckily, at the end of the workshop he also gave us all a DVD with various examples that we could use and play about with.

Overall, it was a very interesting and demanding workshop. Although a relative beginner in the use of PowerPoint, I can now use some powerful functions within the program. However, what I’m really looking forward to is receiving his 111ppt-slide based activities which should be on sale in March next year.