Presentation Transformation: Course 3 Final Project

Course 3…WOW! So many new ideas and ways to improve how I teach communication skills to my students.  Here are some of my projects:

For my final project, I decided to recreate my presentation that I use for parents at the beginning of the year. Instead of just telling them facts about the curriculum and our class procedures, I decided that I want them to come away with a message and a feeling. The message is: 

I have experience and am qualified. I care about your child. I am committed to helping your child develop strong roots and healthy fruit. When your children leave my class I want them to be students who are pursuers of personal excellence, active global citizens,  and ethical decision-makers.

The feelings I want them to have when they leave are trust and confidence.

With that in mind, I set out to make changes.

Here is my original presentation: 


Not bad, but it doesn’t really tell a story or convey the message that I want.

Here are some of the changes I made to improve my presentation:

  1. I tried to use CARP (Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, Proximity) principles. I chose a simple black back ground and kept the theme the same throughout the presentation
  2. I tried to use the rule of thirds on my first slide
  3. I simplified the text
  4. I used more photos and real examples from my class
  5. I included a video
  6. I planned to tell it more like a story and include small stories


Next steps:

  1. Screencast it for parents who can’t attend
  2. Give parents a curriculum guide as a handout and send them the same form as a google doc with hyperlinks.
  3. Replace some photos with short video clips

It’s been an amazing journey and honestly, I’m sad to say goodbye to this course. I will never give a presentation the same way again. 

I’ll conclude with an Edward Tufte quote that sums up all that I’ve learned from Course 3. 

Good design is a lot like clear thinking made visual. - Edward Tufte

Infographics for Younger Students


I have always loved them! And now I know why.

An infographic is a visual representation of data.

Simon Rogers, author of infographic books for children, in his post, The Kids are All Bright: Infographics for all Ages, says that psychologists have known for a while that showing rather than just telling a child helps them learn better. We are engaged by pictures long before we learn to read. This means that by using visual graphics along with the written word, children are more likely to understand and retain the information. However, children need to be taught how to read an infographic just as we teach them to read any type of nonfiction. Rogers co-authored the following fascinating infographic children’s books with Grundy and Blechman: 

Peter Grundy — Infographics: Human body

Nicholas Blechman Animal Kingdom

Peter Grundy’s website Grundini showcases many of his projects and some of his infographics would be very interesting for younger children. It’s definitely worth having a look at his work.

Infographics in my classroom

In my research this week, I came across the following infographic by designer Nam Tran Dang.

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VIETNAM: Urbanization and Water Sources Infographic by Nam Tran Dang

The timing is perfect because we are just starting our unit on activism and persuasive writing/speaking called “Change the World.” We will begin by exploring three different areas that deserve our attention and action.

Dignity, respect and help for others

Wildlife protection

Environmental protection

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the plan to use images and photography to help students open their eyes to the world around them and help them to fine tune their attention to the issues/problems they see around them.

This week I am learning about how infographics can be used to help my students visualize data related to issues they are studying. I am also thinking about how I can introduce my students to creating infographics.

I could use the infographic above to help students understand the issues related to improving water sources in a large and growing city. That would be interesting and the graphics would probably help them visualize the problems. But then I thought, how cool would it be if we could connect with the actual designer who is from Vietnam (currently living in the US) and let him explain it to the students.

I contacted the designer, Tran Dang Nam. Since the infographic was created in 2013, he wants to do some research and update it. We are planning to connect by skype and I have asked him to share a bit about his own background and work as a designer and then to share about the inspiration for creating this infographic. Then he will take some time to explain the information. I love being able to use skype to connect beyond the walls of our classroom. 

Here are a few ways we might use infographics in our classroom:

  1. Create anchor charts for reading and writing workshop
  2. Display data from our weather and climate unit
  3. Provide relevant infographics for students to study and discuss as they embark on a new unit of study
  4. Display infographic books like those by Simon Rogers in our class library.
  5. Teach students to first sketch out their infographic on paper and then introduce them to online tools like Canva or Piktochart. (There are many more, but these are the ones that seem the easiest to me)

If there’s anything I’ve learned this week, it’s that I need to explore the world of infographics and bring them into my classroom. 

On another note, has anyone read the latest whitepaper from Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon called 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning. I’m planning on reading it this weekend so I’d love to hear your thoughts.