Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~ John Dewey

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I’ve always believed that getting teachers into this connected world will slowly trickle it’s way down to affect student learning…and today I proved myself right.

The 3rd grade is getting ready to open their market place where they will sell their homemade goods. One of their requirements is to create an ad to be shown on the SmartBoard when their market is open.

I’ve been working with the teacher to walk the students through the process of thinking about their ad. We decided that PowerPoint would be the best tool for the job and that each student could make two ads (two slides) that would then play in a slide show on the SmartBoard while their market was open.

Taking from my own experience of using the ideas out of the book and blog Presentation Zen, students started their brainstorming on paper first, away from the computer.

Garr Reynold’s believes (and I agree after going through these steps myself) that the computer really doesn’t allow you to be creative. It’s great for the finished product, but actually drawing things out on paper allows you to be far more creative and clear your mind of the other distractions that comes from working on a computer (i.e. facebook, twitter, music, etc).

So we did the same for students. We had them just brianstorm and create on paper first. Get an idea in their heads allow them to “feel” their ad before actually transforming it into digital format on a PowerPoint slide. To the right you can see a student brainstorming out their designs. We talked about picture palcement, fonts, backgrounds, etc. After they had a good idea of what they wanted to do, the students opened up their laptops and went to work.

So here’s how the breakdown of the lessons went. This was done with laptops in the classroom with each student having their own computer.

  • One hour on exploring and learning PowerPoint (text boxes, images, fonts, font size, backgrounds, rotating things). Students took to it like ducks to water. It was more of an explore session then a teaching lesson (co-teaching format between myself and classroom teacher).
  • 30 minutes on logo, branding, slogan, etc (lead by teacher).
  • 30 minutes on brainstorming ad ideas and sketching them out on paper (co-teaching).
  • 1 1/2 hours creating slides in PowerPoint (co-supporting)

It turned out to be a pretty good project. The kids finished up their ads today to be displayed tomorrow when their market opens.

In the end it just reinforces that by being in this connected always learning, presenting world that I was able to take what I know and transfer that to students. Is this something new or different? Probably not….it’s not a complex idea to have students brainstorm off the computer before producing something on a computer. But I do think it helps in learning how to best use a tool like PowerPoint. Understanding colors, boxes, layout, design, etc in 3rd grade in my mind….is pretty cool!

My wife left early this morning for Hawaii. I know…completely lost on her. From Bangkok to Hawaii…..

She’s off to visit a friend, one of the benefits of taking a year off from working and having frequent flier miles to spend.

So that leaves me with a week of no school and time to myself to prepare for what has shaped up to be one heck of a busy November.

Nov. 1-4: EARCOS Admin Conference

Nov. 7-9: Jakarta Weekend Workshop: Learning in a Digital World

Nov. 21-22: United Nations International School of Hanoi

This week I’ll be creating my presentations and focusing in on what my message will be.


I’ll be pulling a lot from Presentation Zen. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It just might change the way you teach. Also, make sure you subscribe to the Presentation Zen blog. It’s one of those books that simplifies the process down to something that just works. In fact Garr Reynold’s simple idea of going off line to plan your presentation has completely focused my presentations the way I want. I spent about 3 hours on Sunday sitting outside on the balcony outlining the four presentations for EARCOS in my notebook. It took me 2 hours to outline the four presentations. Now the fun part of just putting them together.

This book has quickly made the rounds at our school. I loaned it to Kim Cofino after I finished reading it right before Learning 2.008. She got such great feedback on her presentations that she ended up holding a whole unconference session around Presentation Zen.

The book has made the rounds at school as well, and our school just ordered four more copies of it. The best use by far has been watching a couple teachers use the technique as a way to present information in their classes and have all given feedback on how well the students liked the format, were engaged, and attentive.

It’s not a hard format, actually….it’s quite simple, and Garr does a great job of explaining the process that one should follow. A process I now use.

As I’ve been working through my presentations I keep coming back to a common theme of communication. On how technology and the Internet really boils down to allowing us to communicate in new ways. As I was doing some research yesterday I found this article from Wired.

Home Sweet Office: Telecommute Good for Business, Employees, and Planet

Last year, researchers from Penn State analyzed 46 studies of telecommuting conducted over two decades and covering almost 13,000 employees. Their sweeping inquiry concluded that working from home has “favorable effects on perceived autonomy, work-family conflict, job satisfaction, performance, turnover intent, and stress.” The only demonstrable drawback is a slight fraying of the relationships between telecommuters and their colleagues back at headquarters — largely because of jealousy on the part of the latter group.

It’s a great article and as I read it I kept coming back to the same question:

How does this change the way we communicate?

Are we preparing students to communicate and work in this way?

Is this the future/solution to smog, oil prices, commute times?

I have a feeling this research will be making an appearance somewhere in November. 🙂