Thursday, October 08, 2009

Zen and the Art of Powerpoint Maintenance

I was so proud of my PowerPoint presentation. It was visually stunning. I had Indian Buddhas, Chinese Buddhas, Yin and Yang symbols overflowing into pictures of golden temples and crouching Chinese dragons. I was precise in my language, organized with my notes and primed to teach my eager students. "Bwahaha"cackled Murphy the God of Perversity in his divine jealousy towards the attention I was paying towards other beliefs. It flopped. If there had been tomatoes, I would have looked like I'd had a V-8 poured over my head. It wasn't ugly. They were awake and staring at me but no brain cells were involved in synaptic processes. It was like Zombieland in my classroom. Without the cannibalism of course. So, I punted. That lovely powerpoint went back to the dens of my flashdrive and we read and highlighted in my other classes. Or as I paraphrased: "we collected information". But today, a teacher's dream. We took that information and we collaboratively synthesized the data and we drew conclusion and we restated the information. In other words, we worked in groups, we took quotes and decided which philosophical school they belonged to and we rewrote it in our own words. It was awesome. Absolutely a great teaching moment where I just facilitated and nudged them along while they taught it to each other. Was all the time I spent on the PowerPoint a waste of energy? No. It helped me to refresh my own knowledge of the subject and more importantly, it put me back on the "Dao" or "the Way" that I know kids can learn better. It's all good.

1 comment:

Sarah Garb said...

It sounds like getting the students to teach the material to each other is working out well, but if you do want to try the PowerPoint approach again, my third grade students one year created PowerPoints and hit upon a very effective tool of attention-grabbing: the PowerPoint sound effects. They inserted a rapid-fire machine gun type sound that corresponded with the letters each being shot up onto the screen one at a time, and we could do nothing else but stare, rapt, for about 3 minutes as the whole page shot up!