No more than 3 points in your presentation!

February 28, 2013

Interesting video from Ethos3, a company that works on presentations and helping others make better presentations.

Um, no, I don’t think they aim at teachers and educators — it’s a for-profit group, not a charity.

That’s also one of my concerns.  Here’s one of a series of short videos Ethos3 prepared, to help you with your next presentation or, you hope, the woman or man who will be making that presentation you have to watch next Wednesday morning at Rotary Club, or at Scout leader training next Saturday, or kicking off the budget planning exercise next Monday (at 7:00 — coffee provided so don’t be late!):


Generally, I’d agree.

But what about teachers, who have to slog through 150 specific items for the state test?


365 Project - Day 29 - I *hate* Powerpoint

Borrowed caption: “365 Project – Day 29 – I *hate* Powerpoint (Photo credit: mike_zellers)”

  1. Teachers could benefit greatly from learning presentation secrets, and making their in-class presentations much more effective.
  2. No school district in America, public, charter, parochial, or homeschool, will give you time to put together such an effective presentation.
  3. Most teachers get no coaching on presentation effectiveness, and their students lose out.
  4. Just because the administrators won’t cut you slack to do it, doesn’t mean a teacher shouldn’t learn about effective presentation techniques, and use them.

In a world of bad bosses, it’s almost impossible to get a really great principal at a school.  Teachers gotta slog on anyway.

You won’t have the time to do the presentation your students deserve, but you should try, anyway.

Dreaming for a minute:  I wish I could get a team like this to help out with designing a curriculum, figuring out where presentation work, how to give them real punch, and where not to use them at all.

What do you think?  Can you tell your story in just three points?  Can you reduce a lecture to three key points that would be memorable, and that spurs students to learn what they need to learn?


The Communicator communicates

April 5, 2010

What can students do with the web?

Go take a look at The Communicator, the on-line newspaper of Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

What could those students do with a history classGeography? Literature? Mathematics?

Photo illustrating story at on-line version of the student publication Communicator, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Photo illustrating story at on-line version of the student publication Communicator, Ann Arbor, Michigan

HippoCampus: Technology’s promise shows

May 28, 2009

Teachers, are you using HippoCampus?  (Tell us about it in comments if you are.)

Topics with lesson plans and great support material:

Algebra (Spanish)
American Government
Calculus (Spanish)
Environmental Science

HippoCampus is a product of the Monterey Institute, a part of the University of California system.

California unemployment map, for economics classrooms

March 20, 2009

The Sacramento Bee, one of America’s great newspapers which we hope can stay in business through these tough times, today put up a map of California unemployment, county by county.  The map shows unemployment changes over the past year with an interactive slide that makes it great for classroom use in economics, but makes it impossible for me to embed here (it’s in Adobe Flash).

California’s unemployment is at about 11% statewide.  Colusa County’s unemployment is 26.6%.  Two counties away, in Marin County, it’s only 6.8%

California economics classes can use their knowledge of agriculture and industry in the state to make educated guesses about what is going on in each county.  Surely there are uses the rest of us can find.  Colusa and Imperial Counties are two of the hardest hit — with the internet, can your students tell what that is going to mean for prices on fresh produce and processed foods?

This is where computers and the internet step out ahead in the education tilts, with tools like this interactive map.  Thank you, SacBee.  Can you give teachers a download?

Another unemployment map, national, for December 2008, The Swordpress

Another unemployment map, national, for December 2008, The Swordpress

When on Earth, Google as the Earthlings do

March 7, 2009

I’m probably way behind the curve, but this looks to me as if it could be developed into a classroom exercise of some sort.

At Geevor Tin Mine Museum’s Weblog, I stumbled onto Whenonge #7 — When on Google Earth #7 (archaeology edition).

These wacky archaeologists!  They get a Google Earth image of some dig, post it, and challenge people to identify the dig and the time in history the site was actually occupied.  The first to identify the site accurately gets to host the next round.

Hey, take a look at these things.  They would make great slides for a presentation, but they’re also just cool.

Mystery image for When on Google Earth #7 (archaeology)

Mystery image for When on Google Earth #7 (archaeology)

Like so much in archaeology, this game comes to us from our methodological cousins in geology. Shawn Graham adopted their game, and modified it for our use at whenonge #1. Chuck Jones had the first correct answer, and then hosted whenonge #2. The mysterious and elusive PDD got #2 right but never claimed his prize, so Chuck struck back with whenonge #2.1. Paul Zimmerman got the correct answer to #2.1 and hosted whenonge # 3. Heather Baker got the correct answer to #3 and hosted whenonge # 4, and Jason Ur won and hosted of whenonge # 5 . Dan Diffendale won that,  #6 was hosted on whenonge #6 and i won this! so here we are… be the first to correctly identify the site above and its major period of occupation in the comments below and you can host your own!

What’s that?  There’s a geology version, too?  Good heavens!  The geologists are past #150!

WoGE #124 - Where on Google Earth #124; I dont know where this is, but it looks cool.

WoGE #124 - Where on Google Earth #124; I don't know where this is, but it looks cool.

It’s the sort of geeky game that airline real estate lawyers could play with airports, football geeks could play with collegiate football stadia, or baseball geeks with Major League Baseball parks.  Hiking, camping and wilderness geeks could do a National Parks and National Monuments version, with real aficianadoes including trails in National Wilderness Areas from the National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Why not a simple geography version?  Cities with more than 2 million population; national capital cities, state capital cities; Civil War battlefields; famous battlefields; volcanoes; 7 Wonders of the World.

Maybe someone in the Irving, Texas, ISD can get their geography kids to use their computers and put up a website devoted to some of these issues.

Flash media, animation and movies for your classroom

January 28, 2009

I’m struggling.  I’m looking for software that will allow me to make animations and movies for classroom use.  I know very little about it, though, and I’m not sure where to look.

I stumbled on this site, from the University of Houston, Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling.

Do me a favor:  Social studies teachers, especially hop over there and look at the video/animation/presentations they offer — on the Dustbowl, on human rights and Nobel winner Aung San Suu Kyi, on Hiroshima, the race to the Moon, and other stuff.  Look at the presentations:  Can you use them?  Do you have better stuff to use?

Other examples include mathematics, art (some of which might also be good for history), English as a Second Language (ESL), language arts, and other subjects.

Do you make movies or animations for your classroom?  What do you use?

What does a teacher need to get started in digital story telling?

The UH site offers a free download of Microsoft Photo Story 3 — have you used it?  Good stuff?  What’s your experience?

UTEP class

October 12, 2008

Hey, UTEP.  Just for my own gratification, could someone let me know what class it is that is using which material from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub?


Turning a sphere inside out: Video in the classroom

October 28, 2007

How come the science guys get all the really cool videos?

I found this from Mollishka at a geocentric view, and I crib it entirely from there:

Ever wanted to see what it looks like when a sphere gets turned inside out, or simply know what is meant when people talk about turning closed surfaces (like a sphere) inside out? Hat tip to Scott Aaronson for this video:

As it turns out, I actually recognize several of the intermediate steps (for a few of the algorithms they show) as neat-o sculptures that often show up near math departments.

a geocentric view has several other features I found interesting.  It’s written by a graduate student in astronomy — go noodle around.

A Texas History syllabus

October 28, 2007

It’s a toe in the water of internet-using instruction.  Here’s a syllabus for a 7th grade Texas history class at Pin Oak Middle School in the Houston Independent School district.

Notice that this class, as many in Texas do, puts the geography unit up front, not quite isolated from the rest of the class.  Regardless of how well geography is covered, I think we end up shorting the subject its due.

Kudos to Pin Oak MS, to Mr. Gomez, and I hope to see more.

(Surely there is a class in Texas that is farther along in integrating the internet into the Texas history curriculum — point them to us, Dear Readers?)

Does technology help education? Economist debate

October 19, 2007


The Economist’s on-line site launched a debate feature. First topic up in this Oxford-style debate: “Effectiveness of Technology – Does new technology add to the quality of education?”Discussions are open — you can play, too! — October 15th-23rd, 2007.In his opening statement defending the resolution, Sir John Daniel, president and CEO of The Commonwealth of Learning, provokes thought and discussion from the start:

Technology is replacing scarcity by abundance in other aspects of life: why not in education?It is not for lack of prophets. Ever since the invention of the blackboard each new communications medium has been hailed as an educational revolution. Rosy forecasts about the impact of radio, film, television, programmed learning, computers and the Internet succeeded each other through the 20th century although, revealingly, each prophet compared the revolutionary potential of the newest medium to the printing press, not to the previous technological white hope!Why hasn’t it worked? Why has the continuing introduction of new technologies and new media added little to the quality of most education? What can we learn from those few applications of communications media that are acknowledged successes?Technology is the application of scientific and other organized knowledge to practical tasks by organizations consisting of people and machines. In The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith described how applying knowledge to the practical task of making pins led to a factory that produced them with consistent quality in higher volume and at lower cost than artisans making each pin by hand. The technological bases of Adam Smith’s pin factory were the principles of specialisation, division of labour and economies of scale.Most applications of technology in education disappoint because they ignore these principles and so fail to use technology’s intrinsic strengths to tackle real problems.

SRI International’s Robert Kozma bases his case to reject the resolution on research that shows the effectiveness of computers in learning, especially a study by James Kulik at the University of Michigan:

As a group, these studies looked at several types of educational technology applications (such as tutorials, simulations, and word processors), in a variety of subjects (such as mathematics, natural science, social science, reading and writing), and a range of grade levels (from vary young to high school). His findings across studies can be summarized as follows:

• Students who used computer tutorials in mathematics, natural science, or social science scored significantly higher in these subjects compared to traditional approaches, equivalent to an increase from 50th to 72nd percentile in test scores. Students who used simulation software in science also scored higher, equivalent to a jump from 50th to 66th percentile.

• Very young students who used computers to write their own stories scored significantly higher on measures of reading skill, equivalent to a boost from 50th to 80th percentile for kindergarteners and from 50th to 66th percentile for first graders. However, the use of tutorials in reading did not make a difference.

• Students who used word processors or otherwise used the computer for writing scored higher on measures of writing skill, equivalent to a rise from 50th to 62nd percentile.

What do you think, Dear Reader? Technology working or not? Meander over to the Economist site and weigh in with your opinions.

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