27 August 2007

Powerpoint ≠ Good Instruction

The idea of Death by Powerpoint is not a new one on this blog. Neither is Death by Meeting. Put the two together and you really do give meaning to the term "overkill."

Among all of the back-to-school things today, I sat through no less than eight (8!!!) PowerPoint presentations in 3 hours. I counted them, just to give myself something to do and avoid the urge to poke out my eyes with my pencil, shoot spitwads at the posters on the walls, and bang my head on the table out of frustration. When did PowerPoint become equated with engaging presentations and instruction...and how do we dissuade this unholy alliance from being fostered?

On the positive side of things, I do have to say that only one used every cutesy transition and trick in the book. ("No...no...I'm begging you...not another fade!" I wanted to cry.)

I really worried, however, that these same people who were up there listing all of the reasons why the school's poop doesn't stink weren't able to model effective instructional techniques. (My favourite quotes from today: "We're light years ahead of every other building in terms of cultural proficiency." and "Oh, that other school is having a big regional meeting so they can figure out how to be less pitiful.")

I know teachers are tired of the same old, same old at the beginning of the year. So, why not mix it up a bit? Why not extend yourself as a presenter and model some diverse and appropriate instruction? Do things to make people excited about coming back to work. As it is, this school seems to be following the maxim of "If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a terrible warning."

Maybe I'll see if I can hide the remotes in the future. :)


Margaret said...

Tech doesn't teach kids; people do. We had Power Point today too, a culture/diversity in-service. I too wanted to poke my eyes out at times. I would LOVE to have more specific strategies; is that too much to ask?

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Imagine if a conservative PowerPoint presentation was embedded in a creative instructional set! (If it was a bit player -- no pun intended -- instead of the main character.)

Our super supe modeled just that at the first admin meeting in 2005 when training began for "data driven decision making." He had multi-media PP going with processing and student-involved (administrators as students) assessment with no more than 10 minutes of input between activities. I attended as a board member and I was soooo happy I helped hire the guy.

But I truly feel your pain. The poor souls who perpetrate those PP ("sage on the stage") atrocities are the very ones that I have in mind when I advocate for more and better professional development opportunities for administrators.

Of course, if they would just get their heads out of their armpits, they might realize that what research says works with kids just might work with adults! ;-)

The Science Goddess said...

I'm starting to think the PowerPoint should be banned from all future meetings. I feel like the admins use it only because they can't think of anything else to do.

And yet, they're going to evaluate me? It's a little scary.

Dr Pezz said...

My biggest PP peeve is when you only see the presenter's back as he/she reads the PP to you. This happened today, so my buddy and I e-mailed to each other across the room.

The Science Goddess said...

I really should have thought ahead and organized a pool for how many PowerPoint presentations are in the cards for tomorrow. Could be some good money to be made.

Anonymous said...

"If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a terrible warning."

Perhaps the nicest thing I can say about "professional development" is that it often makes me say, "Imagine you had to sit through this 6 hours a day 5 days a week. If you don't keep trying to be a better teacher, that might happen to your students. Could you ever forgive yourself?"

The irony (no, the horror!) is that these people think they are making me a better teacher.

Mimi said...

I am very anti-power point. I know they have their purpose but they can be so PAINFUL!!!

Sounds like a fruitful start to the year!! (insert heavy sarcastic tone here).

Good luck and thanks again for the link tip!

The Science Goddess said...

You're welcome, Mimi. You're a great addition to the edusphere!

Jen said...

I work for a charter school company and I thought WE were the only ones who had to sit through pointless, boring in-services while presenters modeled the same EXACT instructional strategies that they were advising us to avoid. I was sure that everywhere else, teachers were actively engaged in dynamic presentations that truly DID help them to grow as educators.

I guess not.

I can't say much about the PP thing, though. We JUST got the AverKey thing that allows us to use PP in the classroom (up on the TV screen), so I have been using it (complete with "cutsey" effects) for the times when notes are just unavoidable. It's 5th grade, though, and they love the animation. =-) And i do follow up the notes with an actual activity, so I'm not completely guilty. ;)

The Science Goddess said...

I truly believe that PowerPoint can be used for good instead of evil...I just don't see enough instances of that. :)

Anonymous said...

We had a workshop on differentiated instruction that lasted several days, yet somehow 90% of the presentation was done through PP and lecture. Needless to say, we walked away with very few effective strategies.

I'm a new reader, it's nice to find relatable blogs.

The Science Goddess said...

Welcome, Miss!

I'm sorry to hear that my experience last week wasn't limited to this particular school. Apparently, there's plenty of suffering to go around.

Anonymous said...

2 powerpoint related events:

1) I do powerpoints now and then, either when I'm trying to incorporate images I found online anyway or--more usually--when I want the audience to be able to re-visit the thing and re-teach themselves. (Or teach for the first time if they tuned out because of prior PP trauma.)

2) My AP thinks he's cute because he had Looney Toons voices doing transitions for our mandatory school safety talk. It was not as cute as he thought and time consuming. But I like that he made the effort--even if the fonts didn't show up so great on some of his slides...

The Science Goddess said...

"PP Trauma" :) I love it! I definitely think I've been a victim.

PowerPoint definitely has a place in one's arsenal of instruction. I just worry when it's the only weapon.