Dear Otto: PowerPoint or Publisher?

tech questions

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please complete the form below and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Here’s a great question I got:

Hi! Question for you…I know the difference between Power Point and Publisher. I focus on teaching Power Point, but maybe I should teach more of Publisher.  My question is should I stop teaching Power Point and only focus on Publisher? Any suggestions? Thanks, Alex

Publisher provides options for students who want to publish material in a more visual way. I get 2nd graders on it with greeting cards, 3rd graders with a simple magazine, 4th graders with a trifold, 5th graders with a newsletter. Once created, projects are easily converted to pdf and added to class websites, emails, etc. I love it and haven’t found a free version or a widget that successfully accomplishes what it does.

The downside is that Publisher is an expensive program that most students don’t have access to. If your school is OK with that, I’d say add one Publisher project a year that ties into a classroom theme.

PowerPoint is a crowd pleaser, one students are more likely to use for class presentations. I teach everything relevant in 2nd grade, repeat in 3rd grade, add a few snazzy elements in 4th grade (music behind the entire slideshow and custom backgrounds), but truly, it’s simple enough, the teaching is finished in 3rd grade. If I had my way, I’d move PowerPoint to the classroom in third grade where students would use it to share their thoughts on a Unit of Inquiry or create a summative. I actually managed to convince 5th grade to do that this year–huzzah!

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions.

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Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 30 years. She is the editor/author of over a hundred tech ed resources including a K-12 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in tech ed, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, contributor to NEA Today, and author of the tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days. You can find her resources at Structured Learning.

Author: Jacqui
Welcome to my virtual classroom. I've been a tech teacher for 15 years, but modern technology offers more to get my ideas across to students than at any time in my career. Drop in to my class wikis, classroom blog, our internet start pages. I'll answer your questions about how to teach tech, what to teach when, where the best virtual sites are. Need more--let's chat about issues of importance in tech ed. Want to see what I'm doing today? Click the gravatar and select the grade.

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