Monthly Archives: January 2011

Stop Interrupting Interests!

Yesterday I read this quote:

“Stop interrupting what people are interested in, and be what people are interested in.”

I loved the quote immediately. What does this mean to me? Stop interrupting student interest. If you are boring your students with what you are doing, then change it. Change the activity. Change the task. How? Give choices to meet the learning outcomes. Better yet, ask the students how they might like to do it.

It’s not about the tool; It’s about the students.

Over the past 2 days I attended a training session on Smart Board. I just received a new Smart Board for my classroom and was interested in learning about Smart Board as well as the software that drives it, Smart Notebook.

There is no doubt that the Smart Board technology has a wow factor. There are also useful tools that I will be able to avail. However, my initial feeling about the Smart Board is that relied upon too heavily it will destroy what many are trying to achieve: A student centred classroom. Heavy reliance on this tool makes a classroom look like a “traditional” classroom. That is to say the focus remains at the front of the class.

I am not saying, by any means, that I do not like it. I do and I will find uses for it that will add to the learning of my students. However, I can’t forget that too much focus on this tool makes it about the tool, and not the students.

"That’s a Bribe."

Since the beginning of the school year I have told my students (Grade 9) that I do not give rewards (bribes) for learning. I tell them that I do not give rewards when they finish or promise to give something when they finish. When I notice students not interested in the task assigned, I know that I have to approach the learning outcome differently. However, I have to watch how I ask students to do the task because some listen very attentively.

What do I mean by that? At times I will say, “It’s almost time to go now. Please put your chairs on your table and then we can get back to the video.” (At the end of the school day sometimes we watch a couple of funny videos on youtube). When I say such things I have one student who always notices the language I use. Donald, not his real name, says, “That’s a bribe.” I laugh and say, “That’s right, Donald, I should not have said it that way.” I should have said, “Put your chairs up on your tables please.” That way the students are not doing the task for a reward, the video, but doing it because I asked and they know it helps the custodians.

Donald has pointed out to me on several occasions that how I am asking is a bribe. He has challenged me to ask differently from what I want of students through his statement, “That’s a bribe.”

Please save me from another boring Powerpoint Presentation!

I tweet a lot about bad Powerpoint presentations. Recently I sent the following


Why do people teach the mechanics of ppt but neglect teaching how to use it 2 make a great presentation?

Responses received:

@philhart: Because those teaches would need to raise their game. 😦

@thecleversheep: ‘Cus people still think it’s about the tool rather than the message.

@MilaSaintAnne: Perhaps.. it’s more easy to learn technics than think about the subject you have to talk…

: Teaching the mechanics of ppt is easier than developing effective communication skills. Skill development takes effort.

The common thread is that it is much easier to teach the mechanics than to teach communication skills. Further, I just don’t think people know what a great presentation looks like and/or they just don’t care.

It is not the tool itself that concerns me; it is the misuse. Here are a few links to help with (Powerpoint) presentations:

Seth Godin: Really Bad Powerpoint (And how to avoid it)

Why Board Members Should Ban Bullets

Dodging Bullets in Presentations


"Honors are unreal…I don’t like honors."

Over the past week the topic of awards ceremonies was a much discussed and debated topic in my Twitter feed. This was due to Chris Wejr’s blog mention in the Vancouver Sun and his subsequent interviews on the radio.

Also this week, I came across this youtube clip of Richard Phillips Feynman, winner of Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965. He pulls no punches on how he feels of such honors. He says, “Honors are unreal…I don’t like honors.”

I don’t know how he would feel about school awards ceremonies, but I enjoyed his opinion of such honors for adults.