Teaching About Jesus Using PowerPoint

26973EDURGB600At the recent plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the use of new technologies of the digital age to spread the word of God.

With that in mind, for the first time in my life as a catechist, this evening I will be having my students create Powerpoint presentations rather than posters!

For the last few years, during the Jesus unit, I have had my classes work at Jesus Learning Stations, from which they prepared posters to teach about Jesus to the rest of the class. This year, I’ve decided to do something very different.

It turns out that I have access to 3 laptop computers: my own, a work laptop, and my daughter’s laptop. With 10 students, I can easily form groups of 3 or 4 and have each group work with a laptop to create Powerpoint presentations that teach about Jesus. I will have 3 groups (I rearranged the material from the previous 5 learning stations into 3 groups):

As you’ll see from clicking on each of the above, I am providing a resource packet to each group with all of the information they need to create their presentation on their assigned topic. I will be telling them to imagine that they are going to be explaining who Jesus is to someone who’s never heard of him before.

Before they do any work on the computers, however, they will have to show me a hard copy of their plan. I have created the “templates” for each of their PowerPoints and will provide hard copies of the slides they need to complete…each slide includes a header that asks a question they need to answer using the information from their resource packets. Each group will divvy up the slides they are to complete and then will get to work. Here are the slides:

This week, they are to complete their slides which I will take home and combine into one presentation. Next week, we will show the PowerPoint presentation and each of them will “narrate” their slide.

The one “fly in the ointment” is that the clip art gallery on each computer does not have much in the way of Christian clip art so I’m going to need to spend some time this afternoon downloading some clip art that will be readily available to them (the classroom does not have wi-fi access) so that they can “dress up” their slides.

I’m excited and nervous about this new venture. I’m so accustomed to working with paper, scissors, and glue, but I’ve been curious about how to use technology in the classroom so I think this is a perfect opportunity. Pray that we meet with success.

Any pointers and suggestions are most welcome!

About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. Joe, I think your Powerpoint project sounds great!. I will not be able to copy all the papers but I will use some of them with my 6th grade class later in the year. I am lucky
    to be teaching in a Catholic School and although I have larger classes, I do have access
    to the computer room on the day I teach the 6th grade and will therefore have more
    computers available. Keep up the good work. I often get ideas from your website
    for my Religion Enrichment classes.

  2. I come form a poor parish where computers do not exist. How about thing to do
    with children who hardly under stand english or much less know the computer.
    Our public school are a bit slow in teaching. We do have children from 13 different nationalities. There is a great deal of prejice in our own community to
    wards the different group “thye should speak english or thye should improve thesleves” God loves us all. amen

    • Dear Anonymous,
      Thanks for your comment…this is a very real challenge that we face in religious education as in all forms of education: the “digital divide.” In the parish I teach, the school has computers, however, the religious education program is not welcome to use them. I arranged to bring in 3 lap top computers: my own, one I borrowed from work, and one I borrowed from my daughter. You bring up another challenge which is the issue of multi-lingual parishes. Many of us struggle to communicate with kids for whom English is their primary and only language! I can’t imagine trying to deal with kids for whom English is a 2nd language. Thank you for sharing your challenge with us and we pray that the Holy Spirit guides and inspires you to continue to find ways to reach the children you’ve been entrusted with. And by all means, please share your insights with us here!

      • One good picture is worth a thousand words – use the great paintings to teach the children , plus music, simple songs about Jesus and they will remember them all their lives. – Blessings – Rene

  3. Hey Joe!
    Thanks for the Powerpoint example. Using technology is a fantastic idea! It is unfortunate that access to enough technology for groups can be very expensive; though I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of students in each grade, if not class, have laptops–something to be looked into. Kids love technology–they love showing how much they can do with it.

  4. If you can get the use of a projector and a screen one laptop will do.
    Get a lesson ready on a flash-drive and take it with you.

    For those who can get on the internet, there is a fun web-site that the
    kids love ….www.ewtnkids.com. There is a little village that you can
    enter and go into the church that explains all the items in a church and
    a school that has simple catechism quizes. It also takes you into some
    homes that are filled with religious puzzles and information etc. The little
    kids love it but so do some of the older ones. Even if youdon’t have use of
    a computer in class and have one at home, the websitemight give you some
    ideas to make some games that will enliven the class and get the kids having
    fun learning about their lesson.

    Also, your Religion Series probably has a website that has games that you
    can use for the last 5 or 10 min. of class.

  5. Dear Joe:
    Thank you for your wonderful ideas, I certainly get inspired by your work you share with us. I use a lot of visual material, photos, pictures and props because the children in my group are very slow readers but good at memorising and participate during Q & A’s. The room we have been assigned has no electric outlets that work, so until that is rectified, I’ll have to rein in my enthusiasm for getting the computers set up and trying out your ideas. Thank you for all your help, and I love your books by the way!
    Sharon in England.

    • Dear Sharon in England,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for your kind words about my books. Sounds like you need to bring in a portable generator to supply electricity in your class! (Just kidding of course!) When new media fails, pictures, props, and photos work just fine, thank you! Keep up the good work…it sounds like your kids really enjoy your approach.

  6. Joe,

    Your idea about using power point in the classroom looks great. I’m sorry if I’m slow to understand, but the slides that you give each group – each one seems to have a question on it. Are students suppose to do more than answer that question? Are they encouraged to add to the slides you’ve already created in terms of clip art? How many classes did you take up for these stations? How much time outside of class did students spend on this project.
    Thanks and God bless you.
    ~William O’Leary

    • Hi William and thanks for your email and your interest in the Jesus ppt lesson. Yes, the slides each have a question. The students are to answer that question drawing from the resource packets/handouts I give them. yes, I encourage them to add to the slides with clip art. However, I only had one session with which to do this and they did not get as far as I had hoped. My students did not spend any time outside of class working on this….that just doesn’t happen in the parish I’m in. Be sure to see my Nov. 9 post that sums up what we did:
      If you have any other questions, by all means, don’t hesitate to ask.

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