Asilomar #6: PowerPoint

Session Title

“Beginning Math Lesson Delivery by PowerPoint and Tablet PCs”


George Krukis. Teacher, Lodi High School.


I figured I oughtta attend since I’ll be stealing this guy’s slot next year. I felt a little guilty afterward, though, ’cause Krukis and I have a lot in common.

  • We are both designers by necessity, not by training.
  • We both use PowerPoint everyday. (Keynote in my case.)
  • We both run through a thousand slides in a school year and both find our thousandth slide far superior to our first.
  • We both use PowerPoint’s animation (and Keynote’s builds) to help us recall the pacing and structure of a lesson year after year.
  • We both dig how you can strengthen a slide slightly after each delivery and how those fortifications are preserved and compounded year after year.
  • We both acknowledge that PowerPoint is a means, not an end.

There are many significant differences between us, though.

  • He wasn’t using a wireless remote. One of the best parts of projecting images onto a wall is untethering yourself from the whiteboard (this has some cool implications for classroom management, which I’ll get to eventually) but Krukis untethered himself from the whiteboard only to re-tether himself to a laptop four feet in front of it. Whoops.
  • We both recognize the power in a standardized PowerPoint template, though, for Krukis it’s a matter of time saved where for me, it’s a matter of decreasing cognitive load.
  • He uses clip-art. I use photographs. Clip-art is dead.
  • While I think he fully appreciates how helpful PowerPoint can be in small ways, day-in, day-out, I don’t think he appreciates the damage small things (like light green text on a purple background) can inflict over a year.
  • If he’s heard of (pick any three) Reynolds, Tufte, Kawasaki, McLuhan, or Abela, I’ll eat my conference badge. Fact is, a little graphic design instruction goes a long way to improve clarity in the classroom, a fact which I’ll exploit next year.

Presentation Notes

I think we can all agree you’d better have your presentation game right if you’re gonna talk about PowerPoint. In spite of his obvious, better-than-average facility with the medium, dude loaded his slides with a lot of text which he read word for word, a fact which alone is a disqualifier in my book. He’s got enthusiasm in the right places but he hasn’t reached out far enough for free and available expert advice. (cf. amateurs & experts.)


  • He’d take screenshots from movies and insert math-related thought- or word-bubbles. That was cool, fun, worth stealing.
  • There was a guy in the second row so enthusiastic (murmuring, yeah, mm, yeah, that’s cool, hey that’s great) he could’ve been a plant. (Note to self: recruit a plant next year.)
  • Song of the session: “Girl From The North Country,” Bob Dylan, which is probably the only Dylan song I’ve played more times than never. After the session, on the way to lunch, some lady half my height and twice my age struck up a conversation and sang all three verses of a parody she wrote to satirize her remedial math kids. Weird.
  • Recovered my appetite and enjoyed chicken thai salad with the rest of the SLV math team. Good times.

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I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. This conference sounds like amazing fun (for the most part). I think I can stash away enough of my personal PD budget to make the trip to the left coast next year. (Yes – admins in my new district get their OWN PD budget!! And it rolls over year to year!!) Are out-of-staters allowed? Please? As a recovering “traditional” math teacher I think the conference would be a great time.

    If I do end up coming out, I’ll happily fill the position of “shill” for the Dan Meyer presentation. I can see myself acting giddy and elbowing those around me while dropping comments like, “This guy is the MAN!”

  2. “(Note to self: recruit a plant next year.)” Hey – I’m free. ‘Specially if you toss names like “Reynolds, Tufte, Kawasaki, McLuhan, or Abela” around and keep the clip art to a minimum.
    I had no idea there were conferences just for math teachers in places like Monterey. Librarians get sent to Reno for goodness sake.