Whoo baby, it’s an election year! An election always feels a bit like putting a bet on the Melbourne Cup to me. There’s that air of excitement of seeing if you backed a winner! And, it’s possible that I’m the last remaining adult in the world that believes that one vote can make a difference (although if it’s a difference in the right direction depends on your point of view, I guess). It’s also great time to run your own classroom election. But if the thought of that makes you squirm, you’re not alone.
As a Humanities teacher, I’ve run plenty of classroom elections. They’re a great way of teaching what can be dry content – preferential voting, and a political party system – in a hands-on way. They are also time consuming! It’s not just a matter of getting kids to write a, ‘why vote for me’ speech (which, I know, can be a battle in itself), you also need the ballot papers, and a way to tally the votes – taking into account that we use a preferential voting system. Done right, it’s a great learning experience. Done wrong, and you end up with chaos. There’s nothing like that feeling of having your colleagues come in to watch your class in action, only to have the whole thing break down in front of you eyes (yes, I speak from experience).
But, never fear! So that you can avoid my fate of standing at the back of the classroom with a sinking feeling and your head in your hands, I’m going to talk you through how to make your own election templates in PowerPoint, which you can use again and again.
Making templates isn’t difficult as such, but it can be fiddley and time consuming. That said, once you’ve got a template you can use it again and again, year after year.
Open a new PowerPoint presentation and resize the slides to A4 by selecting Design –> Slide Size –> Custom Size the choose Portrait and select A4 Paper from the drop-down menu on the upper left-hand side
Next, open up the Slide Master by selecting View –> Slide Master and you’ll see something like the image below on your screen.
The Slide Master screen is where you can create slide layouts that you can use throughout the presentation. In this case we’re using it to make custom layouts for our template slides. The large thumbnail is the Master slide, and the smaller thumbnails show the various layouts associate with that slide. Delete all of them but the blank layout by left clicking on each thumbnail and selecting delete layout.
We’re now going to make the materials we’ll need for our mock election.
In my mock election template I have the following pages:
One ballot paper, one ballot box sign, one tally sheet and two ‘how to vote’ party sheets.
In the examples above, only the Ballot Box sign is noneditable. The other pages all use the same processes to create. It’s as a simple is adding in placeholder boxes in Slide Master. Let’s have a look at the process by making a ballot paper.
Begin by selecting the blank layout, and inserting a rectangle by going to the Insert tab and selecting Shapes. Draw the rectangle to the shape you desire, and change it’s appearance in the Shape Format toolbar.
Using the same method as you used to insert the rectangle, insert a straight line and format it in the Shape Format toolbar.
Next, you can start inserting your image placeholders. This is done in the Slide Master toolbar. Placeholders can be formatted in the Shape Format toolbar.
Tip: Hold down the Shift–key when drawing a shape to make a perfect square or circle.
Insert your boxes where voters will mark their preferences.
And finally insert your text placeholders. The placeholder text inside can be rewritten by deleting the existing text and replacing it with your own.
Once you’ve finished inserting all the elements you want in the layout, close the Slide Master view. You can now insert that slide just as you would any new slide. You’ll see that any changes you make to the slide won’t effect the layout you created.
Once you’ve created all your materials, and before you make any changes to them as slides, you want to save the presentation as a template. To do so go to File –> Export –> Change File Type and select the Template option from the menu on the right-hand side. This will save the file as a .potx file. Every time you open it, it will now open as a new presentation.