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I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, EdTech, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of the Crush School Series of Books, which help students understand how their brains process information and learn. I also wrote The Power of Three: How to Simplify Your Life to Amplify Your Personal and Professional Success, but be warned that it's meant for adults who want to thrive and are comfortable with four letter words.

How To Keep Learning Alive And Avoid Death By PowerPoint

 How To Keep Learning Alive And Avoid Death By PowerPoint

Hi friend,

I recently started a podcast Keeping Ed Real, but kept it hush, because I was figuring out which direction I want to go with it. But now, I am happy to say I know what I want it to be. 

Each Keeping Ed Real episode is a 3-5 minute show on brain-based teaching and learning. It's a show for teachers in which I discuss learning techniques that are not common practice. In other words, I plan to use the show as a platform to share strategies that help teachers teach in brain-friendly ways that allow students to gain skills and learn more effectively.

Below, is a transcript of an upcoming show, which will air in two weeks or so. In the meantime, check out other episodes of Keeping Ed Real here and let me know what you think. 

How to Avoid Death By PowerPoint

Are you killing your students? Killing their learning I mean?

About a month ago I assigned a project to my principles of engineering class for which my students were asked to interview an engineer and create a slideshow of this experience to present the rest of class.

This week we spend the first two days presenting and sure enough, everyone packed each slide full of text. Most lacked images. Death by powerpoint ensued. It was painful!

We all had to sit through student after student reading words from slides.

And then I realized that it was all my fault. I did not show my students a better way. I knew but I forgot. I did not hold them to a higher standard. I did not teach them how to Avoid Death by PowerPoint.

So today I am committing to teaching them how to create better presentations. I hope you do the same.

There are 2 ways to accomplish this. One, burn all your wordy presentations and replace them with simplicity. Two, create projects that direct your students on how to do it better.

And there’s a bonus. By doing less, they will learn more.

It’s all about using the brain the right way. Here’s How:

  1. Keep It Short and Stick to 3 or Fewer Key Points And Expand On Each.
  2. Use Images And Speech, Not Text.
  3. Give Time To Process the Information in Class.

Keep it Short and Stick to 3 or Fewer Key Points And Expand On Each

The human brain is capable of holding only a few things in its working memory, the now memory we use to process information in the moment. So if you want your students to remember information you present, introduce the 3 or fewer concepts you want them to learn at the beginning of your presentation, support them with examples and stories, and restate and summarize them at the end of your presentation.

And do it all in 10 minutes or less to keep their best attention.

Use Images And Speech, Not Text

Get rid of the bullet points and the paragraphs. In fact, get rid of nearly all text. Instead, use images that convey your points. Then, talk about the concepts.

You know your content. There's no reason to read off the slides. Your audience will be able to follow and engage as opposed to trying and failing to keep up with the information overload.

Give Time To Process Information in Class

After summarizing your presentation, allow your students to apply it. Come up with 2 or 3 quick activities that prompt students to use what they are learning. Have them draw a diagram of a concept, explain in a Flipgrid video, solve a problem, compare and contrast 2 concepts and Tweet their Venn diagrams - the possibilities are endless!

So ask yourself: Am I using presentations the right way? Or are they Death by Powerpoint?

Do you:

  1. Stick to a few key points and expand on them?
  2. Limit text and use images and speech to teach?
  3. Allow class time so students can process the information you presented?

Check out my post on how to avoid Death by PowerPoint here for more descriptions and an example lesson you can use to teach students how to create better presentations. 

You have the power to change the world. Use it often.


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