Archive for the ‘Nonlinear, Interactive PowerPoint’ Category

A couple of years ago I used a very short PowerPoint presentation on The Eight Parts of Speech. I made the presentation available to my students so that those who were confused about nouns, verbs, etc. could refer to it. I then decided that an expanded interactive presentation might be more beneficial. I also did not want to be tied to the traditional categories used in grammar.

I have now “completed” the expanded interactive version; however, as you can see from the title of the presentation, after some exploration, I decided to organize the presentation in the old, traditional way. While the categorization is old and traditional, the presentation of the material is not. The presentation is an interactive PowerPoint that allows students to follow their curiostiy by clicking on buttons. The second page of the presentation is “home,” and from there students can click on the part of speech that they would like to learn more about. I have also included an index. The icon for the index is in the upper right hand corner. Buttons in the bottom middle of the pages allow students to go back to the sections within the presentation.

In the future, I plan to expand some of the sections of the presentation. For prepositions of orientation, in particular, I imagine that  photos demonstrating the meanings of the words would be very helpful.


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A few months ago I started a nonlinear PowerPoint presentation on the parts of speech. After a lot of consideration, I decided to stick with the traditional eight parts of speech. I realize that this categorization is not without its disadvantages, but I felt that using the traditional eight would be most efficient for my students. This presentation, however, has turned into a bigger project than I had imagined, and as a result I have decided to post it in small bits. This first post is the one on the noun. It covers count nouns, noncount nouns, infinitives as nouns, and gerunds. The level targets the particular students that I teach. They are at the intermediate level. And here it is…


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This little presentation allows students to categorize the uses of the simple present tense. It also demonstrates how movement in PowerPoint can be used to allow students to actively categorize. To add movement to PowerPoint, use animation.

Categorize the Uses of the Simple Present Tense

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Some time ago I made a concentration game using PowerPoint and put the template here on this blog. The template doesn’t have any content, but you are welcome to take it and add your own content. You can download it at: Concentration Template.

From time to time, I check the stats for this blog and not long after creating the Concentration game, I did just that. When I check the stats,  I can see several things: how many hits there have been, the referrers, the links that have been clicked, and the search engine terms people have used. One day, I noticed that someone found this blog by using the terms “cause and effect concentration.” I thought this was a great idea and since one of the rhetorical patterns we work on in my writing class is cause and effect, I have made just such a game.

I use it to do two things:

  1. help students clarify their understanding of what cause means and what effect means
  2. practice writing logical sentences (with correct punctuation) that use the following words and phrases:
    • as a result
    • so
    • since
    • consequently
    • that is why
    • because
    • for this reason

I chose seven words and phrases because this is the number of pairs in the game. I did not use therefore and thus because these words are usually only used when writing about logical conclusions in math and law and would not fit any of the sentences in the game.

The game worked very well. I wrote the above words and phrases on the board and broke the class into teams. I then explained the game and told the class that the teams needed to do two things.

  1. First, they had to match two cards. One card would be a picture that represented a cause and the other would be a picture that represented the effect. They were not allowed to take notes on the location of the cards. This is a concentration game after all!
  2. After matching two cards, one team member would come to the board and use the information on the cards and one of the words on the board to write a sentence of cause and effect. The team could help them, but I would not look at the sentence until it was finished. If the sentence was correct, the team would get a point and another turn. If the sentence was not correct, the next team would have a shot at writing a correct sentence. Once one of the words or phrases on the board was used, I would cross it off to ensure that all of them were used for practice.

Students enjoyed the game and had to work hard to make sure their team’s sentences were logical and correct. The whole class appeared to find mistakes in logic particularly interesting.

Please note that  there is one picture that represents surprised and another that represents frightened or terrified. Surprised is intended to match up with the mouse and frightened or terrified is intended to match up with the ghost. Students thought it was funny when I acted out surprised versus frightened and were fine when I explained that I was looking for something very strong for the ghost and not so strong for the mouse.

To open or download the game go to Cause and Effect Concentration Game.

The source for most of the images was My English Images.

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concentrationjpgPreviously I wrote about nonlinear PowerPoint presentations and some of the creative, interactive things you can do with them. Recently I learned how to use triggers and with my newly gained skill I made a concentration game. I used it on Thursday with my grammar class and it was really fun. For my first experiment with concentration, I divided the class into teams and then explained the game. For this version of the game, they simply had to match possessive adjectives with possessive pronouns. They really liked it and at the end, asked if they could play another round. We didn’t have enough time, but I promised them that we would play another version of the game in the future.

My use of this game on Thursday was pretty basic, but used in other contexts is gives students the opportunity to categorize. They could, for example, match examples with categories. My big picture for this game really involves a marathon review at the end of my writing class. I plan to divide the class into groups and assign each group the responsibility for reviewing one section of the course (time order, space order, persuasive, comparison, contrast, cause and effect, and summary) with the class, using a game format. As an example, I will show them a concentration game that I’ve made to review the things to consider when writing a paragraph that gives instructions. Their responsibility will be to decide which features they will review and make a game which does this. During review week, one of the members of each of the groups will act as quiz master. It’s too much to ask them to create a game so, along with the concentration template that I’ve made, I will make several other game templates available to them. Jeff Ertzberger’s site has lots of great game templates that look like they would be fun and some of them don’t require the students to make any modifications.

If you would like to use this game, please feel free to download the Concentration Template. It was made using Word 2007 and I apologize for not being able to make it available in 2003, but too many of the features were lost. You will need to add your content. Move the brown cards to the side and type in your content where there is currently a question mark.

April 23, 2009 Note: If you downloaded the Concentration Template before April 23, 2009 there is a small glitch with card one. If you download it again after this date, the problem should be fixed. Thank you Toula!

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copy-of-lampIn my writing class on Friday we continued to work on paragraphs organized according to space order. Prior to Friday, students worked on prepositions of location and topic sentences for paragraphs that describe a place. To practice space order, we used a non-linear PowerPoint presentation that I made using some pictures of my apartment. (If you’d like to see an earlier post on how to make this type of presentation, go to Non-linear PowerPoint Presentation.) I’ve been tweaking this actvity for a while. The trickiest part was to find a way for the students to see enough of the apartment, and at the same time maintain a sense of where in the space the items were located. In the end, I laid out small photos on a drawing of the space. The small photos then link to larger ones so that the class can see more detail. We start with just the map and then look at the map with the little photos on it. I then click the little photos one by one so the students can see things in more detail. Each time I return to the map before students view the next picture. Later when the class is writing, I leave the map with the pictures on the screen. Each picture and place is numbered, so if they have any questions or would like to see something again, they can easily refer to the number.

To begin, we reviewed a couple of  things that are useful when writing a paragraph using space order: First, the paragraph needs a topic sentence with a main idea. Then, the writers need to decide on a starting point for the paragraph and describe things in relationship to that point, using prepositions of location. I also reminded students to not only write about the location of things in the space but to include some interesting detail. I was really pleased when they mentioned that this detail could include examples, feelings, or explanation. Next, the students sat in pairs and we viewed the photos. With each photo, I added some detail. For example, I mentioned that when people come over after dark, we turn on the little lamp in the hallway by the front door because it makes the entrance feel cozy and welcoming. I also told them that some mornings while I eat breakfast, I look at the picture of the colorful four vases and think of my three colorful sisters.

After viewing the photos, students worked with their partners to write their paragraphs. I felt that they were very successful at collaborating and when one pair had difficulty coming up with a topic sentence, the other pairs shared their ideas with them. This practice also gave me a chance to move around the room and talk to all of the pairs about their work and remind them of a little grammar including how the first time you write about an indefinite singular count noun you use “a” and after that you use “the.” We also noticed that it is a good idea to use a variety of grammatical patterns instead of using the same pattern again and again. They tended to depend on “you can see” and “you can find.” We talked about some alternatives including “there is” or occasionally starting a sentence with the item being described.  If you’d like to see the photos we used for this practice, click here: An Apartment.

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In an earlier post on Interactive, Non-linear PowerPoint Presentations I mentioned that my beginning writing students have difficulty differentiating between fact and opinion and that I made an activity to work on this (Fact or Opinion). 

In her comment on that posting, Wendy expressed an interest in finding out more about how I use this exercise. Her comment was: “I’m interested to know exactly how you present this exercise in class. How do you structure this exercise into the lesson? Does each student have his/her own laptop to work from? What exercises do you do to follow up? or what comes next once the students finish the exercise.” I thought I would use this post to follow up.

Basically I’ve tried two different ways to use this activity. The first time, I assigned it as homework. I linked it to my Blackboard site and then students did it at home or at the library and returned to class with two lists: one of things that makes something a fact and the other of things that makes something an opinion. I collected the lists at the beginning of class and then we had a whole class discussion. As we talked, I put the students’ ideas in two lists on the board. Later, when we talked about how an opinion paragraph is organized, I referred back to this exercise and reminded students that their main idea should be an opinion and, as much as possible, their supporting points should be facts.

Before I used it the second time, I built in more support for the students. Towards the beginning of the activity I added more feedback on the reasons something is a fact or an opinion. This time we did it as a teacher fronted activity using the podium (a computer, projector, and a screen at the front of the classroom). I asked the students to sit in pairs. Each time I put a new slide up, the students conferred with their partners. The pairs needed to supply an answer (fact or opinion) and a reason for their answer as well as take notes in two categories, fact and opinion. I went through the first several slides slowly, but picked up the pace as students became clearer about the differences between fact and opinion.  In the end (as above), we talked and I put their lists on the board. I contextualized the lesson in the same way as above.

My feeling is that more students benefited from the exercise when I used it the second way. For one thing, when the exercise was homework, not everyone did it. Also, the lower level students did not have the support that they got when we did it in class. I also think it was beneficial for students to talk with someone else about the reasons something was a fact or an opinion. (We also enjoyed a few laughs together in class when we made a wrong choice and heard “oh no!”) If you don’t have a podium in your classroom, the first way is the only way. Also, the first way doesn’t use up as much class time.

It will be interesting to try this activity in more ways. I could see it working well in a computer lab, but I think I would still ask the students to work in pairs with two students sharing a computer. This way everyone stays on track; they all get a chance to think and verbalize their ideas; and the students who need more support can get it from their partners. I also think this activity would work well in an online course. Students could use the discussion board or a wiki to confer with a partner and together they could produce a list in two categories. It would also be interesting to see if the class is able to contextualize the activity. Upon finishing, I could simply ask them how this relates to writing an opinion paragraph.

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