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Damien Morgan – items of interest from the world of education

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Presenting in Style

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words you don’t want to hear

PowerPoint, and other presentation tools can be extremely useful, but too often are not.

There are two main problems:

  1. Poor design
  2. Poor presentation

Everyone can do something about both of these before your audience complains of “Death by PowerPoint” or my favourite: “PowerPointlessness”.

The main errors with design are simple: too much text and too dull.

I’m not an expert, but I know what bores me to death. I recall being seated in a presentation theatre at a conference and trying to find every letter of the alphabet on each slide. There were two reasons I was able to attempt this. First, because there was so much text on each slide; secondly, because the presenter was reading every word to me I had plenty of time. I don’t remember what she was talking about, but I remember the experience. I remember another occasion when I was member of a small audience for a presentation, and being a well-mannered person, I couldn’t simply walk out. Instead, I contemplated feigning a heart attack so that the presentation would stop and I could escape.

The simplest solution to presentation woes is to prepare and practice. Your preparation is essential. My experience is that it will take you significantly longer to create your presentation than it will take to deliver. So, start by knowing very clearly what message you want to convey. A number of links below give better advice than I can about putting your presentation together. It does take time and practice. And you will get better at it if you are a bit critical of yourself. When it comes to giving your presentation keep in mind that not many people are able to talk off the cuff and 1) include everything they want and need to, 2) not stumble verbally. Just an aside, not everybody is as funny as they think they are, either. Practise with a script, or at least with the notes you will be using.

advice from experts

From UK PC Advisor this well named article: 10 Ways Anyone Can Give Better Presentations Using PowerPoint: Tips for giving better presentations

Gary Chapman from the University of Texas: Tips on Using Microsoft PowerPoint and Thoughts on Using PowerPoint Effectively

Aaron Weyenberg from TED: 10 Tips of how to make slides that communicate your idea

some big news

PowerPoint isn’t the only presentation software, and may not be the best for you, despite the fact that the two words have become synonymous.

Online tools such as Prezi, HaikuDeck and Canva all offer an alternative. If you use a Mac, you must use Keynote.


Written by Damien Morgan

February 10, 2015 at 4:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Appropriate behaviour or compliance and acquiescence?

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Some years ago when my wife and I were moving through the process of getting a diagnosis of our son’s condition, we were told by one paediatrician, “His behaviour could well be considered normal in another society.” I was so taken aback at the time that I didn’t give the obvious response, “Yes, but he has to manage in this one.”

Recently I have been thinking about the behaviour we expect of the students in our care. We teach them to behave appropriately for the situations they find themselves in. Or are we simply demanding compliance and conformity?

From a teacher’s point of view, it would always be much easier if all children were “well behaved”, and we have all wished at some time that the whole class would be as good as one particular child. Clearly, that’s wanting conformity. We would work towards all children behaving the same way, so as to make our own life a little easier. As teachers, we can justify that by saying that we would get through so much more of the curriculum if everyone behaved well, and were predictable.

How boring would life be? By saying that I’m not wishing severe disruptive behaviours on any teacher or class; but everyone the same? How could one’s students learn from one another?

In my role as Deputy Principal, I have over the past couple of years had a bit to do with N and his mother.  When he first came here two years ago as a 5-year-old in Prep he displayed an explosive temper which he took out on other children and sometimes his teacher. In turn, she learned to read N well, and I would be contacted before a situation arose to take N for a walk and a chat. Believe me, we walked for kilometres that year, and had odd conversations where I was doing my pseudo-psychologist thing, and N would be asking all manner of questions: “Why are those kids there? He kicked that ball hard, hey? What are they doing? That smells good, hey?” and on and on it would go.

Late that year, after lengthy discussion and heartache by his parents, N was medicated. Miracle result? Of course not. Still a problem sometimes, but not so extreme, and not so often.

So, has N learned to socialise better, or have we achieved medicated acquiescence?

Ultimately, I think it’s probably a bit of both, and that the medication has allowed him to socialise better. He certainly gets into trouble less frequently, and when he does, it’s not as serious as previously. One problem N has now, though, is that his new teacher (he had the same teacher in prep and Yr 1 – at her request) doesn’t understand where he has come from. Her expectations probably need to be modified a little, to let him learn to behave, rather than demanding perfection from him.

It’s probably a truism, and something of kick in the pants for schools, that those children who succeed best in a school are those who learn quickly to be compliant. Most schools are not happy places for those who walk to a different beat. And that’s something we have to get better at accommodating.

Written by Damien Morgan

February 22, 2013 at 2:53 pm

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Missouri bans student-teacher friending on Facebook

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Written by Damien Morgan

August 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

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The current IWB newsletter alerted me to PhotoPeach, an online slideshow creator.

From entering the site to creating and viewing my first slideshow took all of maybe 5 minutes. This was extremely simple and intuitive. I can see real classroom application for PhotoPeach.

Now, I know that this type of slideshow is linear, and may not be the most creative way to display information, but there is definitely a place for this in the classroom teacher’s armoury of ICT bits and pieces.

Storytelling, excursion reviews, art collections, etc, etc.

My first experiment is a collection of photos from our first day at Shanghai Expo last August.

You can see it here:

As I said, 5 minutes from sign-up to production. Imagine what could be with some real time, effort and thought!

Written by Damien Morgan

March 6, 2011 at 1:58 pm

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Teaching Teachers for the Future

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Last week, Tony Brandenburg from ACCE invited me to join a forum in Melbourne as part of the TTF project.

Below is the piece my Principal asked me to prepare for the College newsletter explaining my participation…

Last Friday I had the opportunity to travel to Melbourne to attend a forum of education professionals discussing professional standards for Graduate Teachers. The project is called ‘Teaching Teachers for the Future’, and is funded by the Federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations through the ICT Innovation Fund.

The project specifically targets systematic change in the Information and Communication Technology in Education proficiency of graduate teachers across Australia.

On Friday, our task was to work on the first of three components to the project: build explicit ICTE dimensions to elaborate the Graduate Teacher Standards of the National Professional Standards for Teachers. The forum was conducted by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, in collaboration with the Australian Council for Computers in Education, from whom my invitation had come.

The particular group in which I worked had educators from primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, from New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Queensland. I was the only member of my group not from a metropolitan setting.

These new National Professional Standards for Teachers, which will sit hand-in-glove with the Australian Curriculum, have three domains (professional knowledge, professional practice and professional engagement), and are written for teachers at four stages of their careers (graduates, proficient teachers, highly accomplished teachers, and leaders). In all, there are 35 focus areas for the 7 standards.

On Friday, we worked on the Graduate Teacher standards, drafting and editing elaborations to further explain the various focus points, and then including exemplars of how each might be done, all from an ICT perspective. It was an extremely busy day, and I believe we provided some valuable information for the facilitators to use. The process is ongoing, as all who attended the focus group are now part of an online community to continue the work. My understanding is that a final draft of elaborations and exemplars is to be published during the last quarter of the year.

Read more about the Standards here:


Written by Damien Morgan

March 6, 2011 at 1:48 pm

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Visual Taxonomy of Web 2.0

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Mike Fisher has been playing with a taxonomy of Web 2.0 tools based upon the thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains .

As he states, “…this is an implementation point, a discussion starter”; and a very good starter it is, as it will challenge you to think about the placements of various tools, and the fluidity of the model. I really like the way he has designed the model to show how various tools can be used in different ways – underlining the fact that learning is context-based.

My first impression centred on how our thinking about learning has changed in just a few years. Web 2.0 has opened up so many doors that we didn’t even see a decade ago.

There are a number of other tools I would consider deserve a place in such a model, but I appreciate that this model is based upon Jane Hart’s 25 top tools for learning.

Take a look, and see what you think. Are you using Web 2.0 tools in these ways?

Written by Damien Morgan

January 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

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Educational Apps for iPhone and iPod Touch

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Readers of this blog will know that I am an advocate for the use of modern technology in school. In the second half of this year my local campaign has been to lift the ‘ban’ on phones, pods etc at my school (with some success!).

This list of iPod apps was brought to my attention by David Truss via Twitter.

I plan on distributing the list at the beginning of our new school year. Mind you, not many of our students have iPhones (there are a few Touches about, though), but I want the teachers to see the extraordinary possibilities that exist.

Written by Damien Morgan

December 15, 2009 at 6:49 am

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