Textbook Problems? 3 Reasons to Use PowerPoint to Teach Science

Textbook Problems

When I first started teaching, it was all about the textbook. We read, defined the words in bold print, and then answered the questions at the end of the chapter. Exciting, huh?

In my defense, this was in the days BEFORE the internet. I mean, I think the internet was out there somewhere, but we certainly didn’t have it at school or home. So, when I was looking for curriculum, I was limited to what we had in the science department or what I could find in the library.

Pretty soon, it become obvious that many of my students weren’t getting much out of the textbook. Over 1,000 pages full of strange, new words . . . SO MANY WORDS! It was just too much. And, on top of that, sometimes the books had mistakes, were at the wrong level for my students, were outdated or I didn’t have enough of them for each student to have one.

Sheila Valencia (Edutopia, 6/27/2014) states that many students are unable to learn from subject matter textbooks in part because they are dense with information, specialized vocabulary, long chapters, and are often poorly organized.

What do you want from a textbook?

It’s really all about content. The textbook should contain the content that students need to know for that particular subject.

So, most importantly, the information must be accurate. But, for students to “get it”, it must also be relevant and intriguing. Students need background information and lots of interesting examples to help them understand and connect concepts.

Images are key to engagement and sparking curiosity. This is especially true of concepts that can’t be easily seen such as cells, genes, or atoms. The brain is an amazing image processor, so real engagement starts with visuals such as photographs and diagrams.

I’m not saying you should throw your textbook (if you have one) out completely. It can be a fantastic reference and source of information. But, instead of relying primarily on the textbook as the standard instruction manual, try something that will make a bigger impact on your students.

So, this brings me to the point of this post . . .

3 reasons to use PowerPoint to teach science

1. Information

Well-designed slides contain clear, concise information. PowerPoint allows you to select and feature the most important information and present it clearly, so students know what to focus on.

2. Images

High quality images can do a lot of the teaching for you.There’s a reason why we all know the idiom “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Research shows over and over again that we understand and retain information from images much more readily than from words.

3. Flexibility 

As the teacher, you get to decide how much time to spend on each slide, which relevant examples to use, and when to add in your own experiences. I used the same PowerPoint presentation for Honors Biology as I did for General Biology, but the details and examples I added to my lecture were very different in each class.

PowerPoints as a Digital Textbook

For me, PowerPoint presentations are the “perfect textbook”. Perfect because you, the teacher and subject matter expert, get to decide what information, examples, and images you want to use to convey information to your students. And, no one knows what your students need more than you.

Benefits of Science Island’s Digital Textbooks

Currently, I have PowerPoint Bundles for Biology and Anatomy & Physiology. Here is the short and sweet list of why I LOVE these presentations  . . . and why I think you’ll love them, too.

  1. They’re editable. I’m pretty particular about how I explain things to my students and I like to use precise wording for certain definitions. Having an editable PowerPoint makes it easy for me to say exactly what I want to say to my students. Slides can be added, removed, or rearranged – you decide.
  2. Powerful images are carefully selected to improve comprehension and increase retention of new information.
  3. Free updates for life. All corrections and updates are automatically included when you purchase resources on TpT.
  4. Additional notes explaining diagrams, concepts, background information, and instructional suggestions are included and can be printed separately or viewed in PowerPoint’s “Notes Page” view or “Presenter View” mode. These notes are especially helpful for new teachers or teachers new to the subject.
  5. Review questions, interspersed throughout the presentation, allow you to perform quick formative assessments before you move on to new content.
  6. Student notes are included. One version of editable notes is included in each Anatomy & Physiology chapter. But, for Biology, I include 3 versions of notes so you can easily differentiate for all levels and abilities.

The real “Power” in “PowerPoint

For me, the real “power” in PowerPoint is the ability to use images to do much of the teaching for you. Words have power, but images create experiences and you remember experiences.

PowerPoint Digital Textbooks by Science Island

anatomy powerpointsBiology PowerPoints







How do you feel about using PowerPoint in your science classroom?

Happy Teaching!

Carla Brooks is the owner and curriculum designer of Science Island Curriculum which specializes in creating engaging and effective curriculum for Biology and Anatomy & Physiology

About Carla Brooks

A highly qualified public high school science teacher for 18 years, Carla's credentials include a B.S. in Secondary Education: Biology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Chaminade University and National Board Certification in Adolescent and Young Adulthood Science. After personal circumstances required her early retirement from teaching, Carla has enjoyed sharing her lessons and experience on this website and in her Science Island Store on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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