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With the increasing awareness in schools of multiple intelligences and multiple ways of learning, there is a cumulative need for assessment tools in the learning environment. They serve to allow students different ways to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge of the subjects they're being taught. PowerPoint presentations are an excellent tool to use on many levels. In addition, another online presentation tool, Prezi, gives students that ability to add a variety of multimodal slides. However, it is important to understand how to use slide show presentations as an assessment tool.
PowerPoint and Prezi presentations allow students literally to show their teacher how they have connected the lesson taught with the world. They also allow students to demonstrate their grasp of literacy in the subject matter on which they are reporting. Finally, they allow students, who speak English as a second language a way to reinforce what they have learned while practicing their language skills.
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PowerPoint is a readily available computer program found installed as part of most Microsoft suites. You should be able to find it on your school's computers. Prezi is a cloud-based presentation tool in which students or teachers must set up an account with a login name and password in order to access the program. There is a free version but students' work can be publicly viewed; otherwise, it costs about five bucks a month to keep it private.
In the PowerPoint program, student create individual slides that appear with the click of a mouse, while the Prezi software utilizes zoom technology to create interesting slide shows that capture the attention of viewers.
Classroom teachers can collaborate with the technologies educator on how best to incorporate PowerPoint or Prezi presentations for assessing students' work. (Suggestion: If students are using Prezi, classroom teachers can set up the account for students to access. This keeps the students from needing to create accounts. In addition, teams can access the presentations, while the teacher can monitor what students are doing.)
With young students, use PowerPoint to create slides that show pictures only, allowing the child the freedom to discuss their topic without worrying about text. For middle school and high school students, however, text and pictures should be combined to demonstrate their understanding of the topic. Gone are the days of boring overhead slides. Students, especially if using Prezi, may also include short movies, music and/or animation to make their presentations interesting.
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Students should be instructed from the beginning on how best to set up their PowerPoint or Prezi. The rubric for high scoring presentations includes:
- Having text that is clear (san serif fonts) and large (24 or more).
- Making each slide transition to the next with ease.
- Ensuring that pictures are big enough to see, yet not so big that they lose their continuity.
- Using text sparingly - no one wants to read paragraphs of text from a PowerPoint or Prezi.
- Allowing time, at the end of the presentation, for a question and answer period.
- Being creative, add pertinent videos, picture galleries, animation and/or sound.
In addition, students should be instructed to speak to their audience, not the presentation or the computer. There is nothing as boring as having someone reading verbatim from his or her slides. Encourage students to make index cards as prompts for their slides. Additionally, instruct them to speak slowly and clearly in order for everyone to understand what they are saying.
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Good assessment tools for the classroom aid the educator in gaging the students' knowledge and understanding from several different perspectives. PowerPoint and Prezi presentations provide classroom teachers with just this ability. Assessment of a subject using a PowerPoint or Prezi presentations would include:
- Spoken language skills - did student use the correct terminology, did they speak clearly, did they stay on topic, were they were able to articulate their thought without referring to the slides.
- Written language skills - did the student write a script of what they will say, was the text on the slides clearly expressed, did the text on the slides show literacy in the given subject area.
- Comprehension - did the student demonstrate clear and concise understanding for the subject through the slides, presentation and during the question and answer session given at the end.
- Application of Subject - did the student demonstrate their ability to apply their knowledge of the subject by how they present the PowerPoint or Prezi, was the presentation creative and attention grabbing.
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Making the Grade
Keeping in mind the multiple intelligences of students, along with the various ways in which students learn, assessment tools should be equally diverse and varied. PowerPoint and Prezi presentations as assessment tools in the learning environment provide educators with a well-rounded means to measure their students' understanding, comprehension and application of skills in any given subject area. PowerPoint and Prezi presentations make the grade as tools for assessing students' work.
- Source: Author's experience