Too Much

For several years I outlawed PowerPoint in my classroom. I just got tired of students reading four hundred bullet points to me for three or four periods a day. For many of them, this just meant they used an alternate program that they could do the same thing with. Some of them even realized that if they used PowToon, it would read the bullet points for them. Finally I saw the error in my ways. I shouldn’t outlaw presentation software, I should help them learn to use it better.

We started with word limits per slide which drove them absolutely crazy, but they survived and the presentations became a little better. They still read to me, just from their notes instead of the screen.

Now I want to take it a step further. I’m excited to see how I can encourage students to create powerful presentations using some basic design principals.

But let’s start with me. The presentation below is one that I created for open house nights. As I share the presentation I make sure to tell parents that part of what we work on is effective presentations, hence the lack of words. Now I’m looking forward to making it much more visually interesting for parents.

Here’s the updated version. I think I’ve made some pretty positive improvements. As noted in Presentation Zen, simplicity is usually the best option.

In this case the main goal is to introduce myself and the course I teach to parents in approximately ten minutes. I’ve reduced the colors involved and the number of images on each slide. With the exception of the Humanities slide, they all feel much less cluttered. I chose that particular image as an example of how we will use images and technology in the classroom.


  1. Amanda McCloskey says:

    Hi Ryan,
    I think it is great that you are modelling what you teach for your students. Have your students tried using the view speaker notes on google slides? I’ve used it in presentations myself and I’m hoping to introduce it to my students this week. Thanks for sharing your tips on how to improve presentations!


    1. Ryan Harwood says:

      Thanks Amanda. I have not use the view speaker notes feature yet. I don’t use presentations like this very often, but it is certainly good to know it is there. I’ll have to try it out.


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