Ever looked out on a class of young people while you are “lecturing” with your PowerPoint slides? You will either see students frantically scribbling notes based on the text-filled slides you are droning on about, or you will see students who do not even attempt to hide the boredom and frustration they are feeling as their exaggerated yawns and glazed looks scream, “I can’t take this anymore!”

If you’re a good teacher, you begin to question yourself and your method of instruction. If you’re not, you continue droning on and expect students to “buck up” and get with the program. That having been said, let’s assume you’re a good teacher and you want to make some changes. Here are some things you can do to ensure your students are really understanding the concepts you want them to know.

Participoll is a Powerpoint plugin.

First, understand that you CANNOT fill every slide with tons of text and expect anything but boredom from anyone, let alone students. The human mind needs images to make connections to the content, so don’t forget to include relevant images on each slide, and keep the text to a minimum.

Next, take the pressure off students and tell them they don’t need to take notes. If you are like me, you have already provided all your handouts, slide shows, and videos on a learning management system that all students have access to 24-7. If, however, you are not using a learning management system for your classes, give students a slide show handout after your Power Point lecture.

So, how do you keep your students engaged during your slide show? As stated before, make sure your text is minimal and you provide images that are relevant. Then, make sure you use a polling tool to ask questions after every 2 or 3 slides. There are several free polling tools available. Among them are Participoll and Poll Everywhere. Both of these free online tools are downloadable. With Poll Everywhere, you create all your poll questions and download them as a Power Point, then add your main text slides to teach concepts, moving the poll questions into the right locations after the information slides.

Participoll is really a Power Point extension that you can download. You create your information slide show and add a poll question slide after every 2-3 slides. This one is actually my favorite because it does what I want it to do very easily, and that’s what I’m all about.


Another interesting tool to engage students during a Power Point lecture is Pear Deck. This tool is used in conjunction with Google slides. Simply open up Pear Deck and click on create deck. Then title your deck and add a slide. At this point you can add an image, text, or a video. In addition, you can add a multiple choice question to go with the slide. Create all your slides, and then “push” them to your students by providing the URL and the code to get in. Now students will be able to respond to all your question slides during your presentation.

If, however, you’re just looking for a quick one-question poll, then Flisti is perfect for you. There is no sign in; you just create your poll and save the URL to share with your class.

Finally, let’s imagine your students do not have computers, but you want to take a quick check on what they know. Enter Plickers. Plickers is short for “paper clickers.” A teacher can set up his/her classes, with students’ names. Each student then receives a card with a barcode and 4 sides labeled A through D. Teachers ask students a multiple choice question with 4 choices, and when students hold up their responses, the teacher uses her cell phone equipped with the Plickers app to scan student responses. All responses are recorded and saved for later analysis.

Now, these are just a few polling tools, but suffice it to say that creating interactive lectures is a great way to engage your students and enable them to quickly learn the concepts you want them to glean.