Maths - Death by PowerPoint

25th November 2011 at 00:00

What's it about?

If Death by PowerPoint was a disease, most of my pupils wouldn't make it to October half-term. I use it in every maths lesson I teach, writes Craig Barton.

Recently there has been a trend towards software from Promethean or SMART interactive whiteboards. Initially it looks impressive - ready-made grid lines for drawing graphs, a circle tool and those fancy blinds to hide part of the screen. But if you want to write an equation, good luck!

Most of these things can be done on PowerPoint. Copy and paste some graph paper from the internet (or use Autograph), insert a circle, and to hide something just pop it on the next slide.

I know what you're thinking: all the worst presentations you have ever seen involved PowerPoint. Some of the worst lessons I've seen used it too. But use it well and it can really improve the flow of your lesson.

Teachers often prepare lessons so that everything is beautifully typed out on PowerPoint. But if a pupil asks an unanticipated question, or gives an unexpected alternative right answer, your carefully-planned lesson disintegrates.

My presentations generally include diagrams or notes for pupils to copy, as my writing is terrible. I then have time to help any pupils having difficulties and I don't have my back to the class. I only type the questions, so pupils can use the pen tool to write their answers.

Anything else?

At the end I save the lesson, so I have a record of how it went and can email it to any absent pupils. The TES forum has views from other teachers on the best PowerPoint backgrounds for interactive whiteboards.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today