Live Modelling with Powerpoint’s ‘Active X Textbox’ (Whatever that means!)

In recent years I have seen many teachers using a visualiser to great effect to live model a range of different activities from simple ‘this is how you need to lay out your page’ all the way through to writing exemplar exam questions.

Being both without a visualiser and with handwriting of a questionable quality, I was looking for a way to regularly embed live modelling into my lessons using the technology already available to me in a way that students would find clear enough to be impactful – luckily powerpoint does have a feature that lets you do this (confusingly named an ‘Active X Textbox – whatever that means!)

Powerpoint’s ‘Active X Textbox’ allows the user to type directly onto a powerpoint slide in slide show mode in a variety of colours, fonts, sizes etc (the possibilities are fairly limitless). Discovering this feature of powerpoint has been revolutionary to my teaching in the last few years. At my disposal, I now have a quick, simple, and clear way to model a huge range of tasks and activities to my students.

We have had a particular focus within our faculty in the last few years on metacognition (particularly modelling to our students how to think when responding to exam questions or problem solving more generally) and this has helped a great deal. I can talk through my thought processes, type an answer on the board, go back and edit my writing, and do this with real clarity for all students in the class.

In its most simple form, these boxes are great for live modelling the writing of responses to exam questions. Once you have started your slide show, you can type an exam answer directly onto your slide (I often do this collaboratively, or write the answer myself, modelling my thought processes to my students as I do so). As you can see, I have included a checklist, and key vocab for this answer.

Another useful activity using the same principle is to give students time to plan an answer to a question and model (with students contributing to what you are typing) the plan for the question. Here I have asked students to consider structure, own knowledge, and key vocabulary (before students then write up their answer independently using the criteria we have established)

For conceptually more difficult exam questions (like AQA’s ‘write an account of’ narrative-that-isn’t-really-a-narrative question) colour coded boxes can also be used to show the different component parts of a strong GCSE answer. In this example, I have live modelled the causes, key events, and consequences of the outbreak of the Korean War.

Finally, moving away from an exam focus, this is also just really useful for modelling the way that you want students to respond. Here, this guided reading task has been modelled by myself on the board, with students then asked to come up with their own titles and summaries for paragraph two that can then be written onto the board.

The possibilities of use for this part of powerpoint are endless. Of course, a visualiser has its place (and does many of the things that this powerpoint text box does already!) but for ease of use, simplicity, and a chance to regularly embed technology that is part of powerpoint already, this might be useful!

To enable your version of powerpoint to be able to create Active X Textboxes, you will need to make some straightforward changes to your powerpoint settings – follow the image tutorial below to do so and enjoy!

The template slides from above, as well as the tutorial to set up these text boxes can be downloaded here. Feel free to download, edit, and adapt.

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