Second Graders Learn To Make PowerPoint Presentations

Chloe Silva (left) and Sabrina Vazquez of Kathleen Penney’s 2nd grade class collaborated on a PowerPoint project on American symbols while working in the computer lab. - Chloe Silva (left) and Sabrina Vazquez of Kathleen Penney’s 2nd grade class collaborated on a PowerPoint project on American symbols while working in the computer lab.

Kathleen Penney’s 2nd grade class gathered in the Kenneth C. Coombs School computer lab on May 23 to conduct research on American symbols. But instead of gripping markers and poster board, students’ hands were perched on keyboards and computer mouses as they busily created PowerPoint presentations.

“It’s hard to type and it’s hard to get the pictures up there,” Sarah Lynn, 7, said on learning to use the computer program, “but when it’s done it’s cool to watch.”

It was not Sarah’s first time using the program.

She and her 2nd grade classmates have participated in 45-minute PowerPoint sessions throughout the year under the instruction of school librarian Megan Smith, who began the lessons to encourage computer use in the classroom.

By learning to use the program, Ms. Smith said that students have gained a basic understanding of skills such as typing, conducting research on the Internet, and using only copyright-friendly images for their work.

The librarian integrates traditional books into each lesson plan by requiring classes to use books on their topics for the bulk of their research.

“I think if you begin with high expectations, the kids will go for it,” Ms. Smith said. “They’re so encouraged and so excited about learning ... they want to change the design [of their presentations] and show each other.”

Students have taken the initiative to help their peers with their projects, too. During last Friday’s session, Emmalyn P. Gorman, 8, crossed the classroom to offer help to students working at the opposite row of computers.

“Do you need help? Do you need help?” she said as she approached each of her classmates.

Like some of her peers, Emmalyn has begun to use the computer program at home. For Mother’s Day, she created a PowerPoint presentation for her mother using photos from her iPad.

“I like changing the background and decorating my [PowerPoint slides],” she said.

Sabrina A. Vazquez, 8, said that she is enjoying the research portion of the project. For her assignment, she learned that the full name of the Statue of Liberty is Liberty Enlightening the World.

“There are so many cool things about everything in the whole world,” she said, her eyes widening. The class has taught her that research can help people “learn about something really cool,” she added.

Other students are grateful for the opportunity to practice typing and using Internet search engines.

“I like typing,” Greer D. N. Danzey, 8, said. “It really exercises my fingers and makes me strong.”

Because of the knowledge he has gained in the class, Greer said that he wants to use the computer more outside of school.

In addition to her computer sessions with the 2nd grade, Ms. Smith has been teaching 1st graders to conduct research and create books on their topics using the website www.littlebirdtales.com. Response to Intervention (RTI) students who receive extra literacy instruction have also been writing stories using the program.

Several students have told her that they share their work with their parents, and some log onto the website to add their own stories at home.

“If you provide them the tools to do it, they will go beyond what you expect,” she said.

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