Frequently Asked Questions
1) There are many types of presentation programs. Why use Microsoft PowerPoint?
Many students and teachers already have access to Microsoft PowerPoint . It is, without a doubt, the most popular presentation program in business and education. Many teachers and college professors are already using it, and I believe it is important to have a standard so that we may share lessons with one another. I envision in the near future, a community of teachers writing and sharing lessons with one another over the Internet. These lessons could be downloaded by a teacher, easily adapted for use in his or her classroom, and delivered directly to students.
2) Why use MathType software instead of using the free Equation Editor that comes with Microsoft Office?
I began writing my lessons using Equation Editor because it was free. In time, I found out that there are many versions of Equation Editor that have been licensed out, and they are not all compatible. This causes problems when working cross platform (Mac to PC). PowerPoint presentations will work cross platform with no problem. However, not all the objects (symbols, equations, text, etc) created by Equation Editor on a Mac will open correctly on a PC or vice versa. MathType solves this problem. I highly recommend the purchase of MathType because it simplifies the process of creating PowerPoint lessons. MathType also has more options than its free predecessor, Equation Editor . It can create symbols, text, and equations in color, has a larger selection of symbols, and offers greater flexibility in changing format, size, and spacing of symbols. As you will soon learn, creating lessons is extremely time-consuming. Anything that will save a significant amount of time and will offer you more options is worth the purchase.
3) Why are your lessons black and white?
Changing backgrounds and adding color to PowerPoint presentations is incredibly easy to do. A few keystrokes is all it takes to add a colored background, add a textured background, or insert a template into all the slides in your presentation. I have kept these lessons simple in design because I wanted to focus on the content. I choose not to use too much color because I want it to mean something when I do use it. I also kept the flashy sounds to a minimum because I want students in my class focused on the progression of problems and concept development. This is the way I approach teaching in my class. The beautiful thing about teaching, as you know, is the freedom to do what you think is best for your students. If you want to add color and sounds to this collection of PowerPoint lessons, please do. Once you purchase the program, you are free to change anything you wish, including content. The purpose of this collection of lessons is to provide a solid base on which to build so that you may hit the ground running. Some teachers may decide not to change a thing, and that is fine too. I had great success last year using these lessons for the first time exactly as they are.
4) This collection seems like a lot of work. How long did this take you?
In the beginning lessons took me 2 to 3 hours to create. Three years later, I am able to create them in about half that time. I quickly learned to cut and paste. In all, this collection has taken close to 300 hours to create.
5) McDougal Littell offers a CD-ROM on Algebra electronic lesson presentations (PowerPoint-based) which I have. What is the difference between yours and the McDougal Littell?
Good question! If you have looked at the CD that comes with the McDougal Littell resources you know that there is only one PowerPoint presentation per chapter. My collection offers one lesson per section - that's nearly ten times as many. The McDougal Littell lessons are review in nature. They review rules and properties but do not show many examples and would not be appropriate for first time instruction. My collection is used for first time instruction much like you would use the overhead or chalkboard to introduce new concepts or problems. All of the guided practice examples in the PowerPoint lessons are similar to but different than those found in the book. This offers students twice the reference in completing their homework, and I have found that students actually prefer my PowerPoint lessons over the examples in the book. Whenever they leave for an extended absence, they always ask for a printout of the lessons they will miss. You can find all of the presentations in this collection on www.algebranotes.com This site shows pictures of every slide in all the lessons. I chose this URL for my students to use when they are absent or on vacation so that they may have access to the notes from anywhere. You and your students can too.
6) I like your algebra lessons. Do you have others available? I think my school would be interested in purchasing them.
Thanks alot! I just completed this set of algebra lessons last year, 2002-2003. It was the first time that I went all the way through the year using PowerPoint with students. What a difference! It makes teaching the same class five times a day tolerable,... fun even. It can take about 2-3 hours to write a good lesson, but once they are written you can use them forever.