Category Archives: Science Writers’ Workshop

Steal This Presentation!

Good afternoon,

Communicating ideas clearly is one of those ultra-important skills critical for successfully navigating school, relationships, jobs, and…well, life in general.

As a teacher, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of sitting through hundreds of excruciatingly, mind-numbingly boring presentations over the past 15 years. Surprisingly, many of those were generated by educators, myself included. So many PowerPoints/Keynotes/Slides were little more than text on a wall. So many class presentations involved students standing at the front of the room, back to the audience, reading verbatim from the screen.

As my late grandmother Thelma “Toots” Hayden used to say when my cousins and I were in trouble, “For the love of all that is good and holy, DON’T DO THAT!

Several years ago, Jesse DesJardins‘ brilliant SlideShare presentation, “Steal This Presentation!” came to my attention, and I’ve used it ever since to push students down a more creative presentation path. It’s a great contrast between how most people create presentations and how they should create presentations.

In addition to Jesse’s presentation above, I collected a few rules from a teacher, whose name I have long forgotten, at the American International School of Lusaka, in Zambia. Those rules, which I’ve bullet-pointed below, along with “Steal This Presentation”, comprise my instructions to students every time they have to present to class.

The 10-20-30 Rule: How to structure a presentation for success.

  • Maximum 10 minutes – attention spans aren’t that long
  • Maximum 20 slides – don’t overwhelm your audience
  • Minimum 30 point font – make sure the people in back can read it

The Rule of 6: How to build great slides, engage with your audience, and avoid plagiarism.

  • Maximum 6 lines of text per slide – minimize temptation to read the slide
  • Maximum 6 words per line – focus on the most important key words and vocabulary

There you have it – short, sweet, and to the point, just like a presentation should be!

Happy learning!

The Force of a Growth Mindset vs the Dark Side of a Fixed Mindset

I’m an educator, which means I’m naturally drawn to things that encourage and improve student learning. I’m also a child of the late 70’s and 80’s, which means I grew up surrounded by the original Star Wars trilogy – Episodes IV, V, and VI, respectively. I collected hundreds of action figures, I’ve watched all 3 films literally dozens of times, my room was lit by a Darth Vader lamp, I’ve owned at least half a dozen light sabers, and I even had a “Return of the Jedi” bedspread for a few years. (Come to think of it, those films probably had an impact on my subsequent interest in science and astronomy.)

Yoda, the Jedi Master, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic teachers in film history. He challenged his naïve, young apprentice Luke not just to master new skills, but to entirely change the way he thinks and perceives the world.

Today I stumbled across the following images in my Twitter feed, and I plan to print them and hang them on the door to my classroom. They summarize for me the mindset changes that are necessary for any kind of success – not just classroom academics, but in any endeavor – in the 21st century. Despite some Google searches, I still don’t know who published them originally, so I will start with this disclaimer: No copyright violation is intended. I am happy to give credit where credit is due.

Anyway, here they are: Yoda and Vader, representing the Good and Evil of learning.

Learning - Growth Mindset Learning - The Dark Side

iPads and Tablets in School


It’s been a long time since I posted here. November’s been busy, busy, busy at school and at home. But I decided that I have something worth sharing today, and if you’re a student or a teacher, it should have a positive impact on the time you spend at school.

Last night I came across, another blog here on WordPress, which I’ve decided to follow because of the wealth of information I found there.

The post that really caught my attention is the one called “iPad guides“, which has some fantastic ideas on using iPads to engage students in their own learning at a depth I rarely see in schools. The post includes a number of PDFs, which you can print for a class or library bulletin board. They’re visually appealing and easy to understand, which means they’re likely to actually be used by the intended audience – students and teachers. I’ve already posted 3 of them in my room, and this afternoon’s last-period grade 10 class will begin experimenting with a few of them. This should be fun and educational!

Open House 2014!

Welcome parents!

I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to my MYP and DP science classes for the 2014-2015 school year. If you’re reading this, then you might have been in my classroom this afternoon. I’m posting the video below because I think it nicely summarizes what’s happening in the world of education today. Please watch it, then take a tour of my Google Classroom and Moodle sites with your child so that you have a complete picture of what’s happening at school. And of course, feel free to email me with any questions you have.

Happy learning!


The Twitterverse is Not Perverse

I'm not sure where this was originally published, but here's where I found it:

I’m not sure where this was originally published, but here’s where I found it:

I’m relatively new to Twitter. I joined about a year and a half ago when I finally upgraded from my old-school Nokia to an iPhone 4. It seemed like an easy way to keep track of all the random topics I follow on various parts of the web, but I quit using Twitter pretty quickly because I found that there was a lot of useless junk coming my way, too. Essentially, the junk overwhelmed the worthwhile links.

But then I enrolled in an Educational Technology Leadership course over the summer holiday, and I ‘found the happy’ with Twitter. Actually, I more than found the happy. I learned a whole new way of interacting with Twitter so that I get exactly what I need from what I now think is a great form of social media.

The trick was to stop following so many others and start using TweetDeck to create lists that filter tweets by their #hashtags. I carefully chose hashtags which routinely appear in Tweets about subjects I follow. I don’t control what shows up, so my news isn’t as biased as it would be if I only read the New York Times or only consulted the Wall Street Journal. The Twitter algorithms create a steady stream of information from a wide variety of sources and sorted by topic, which means I can now keep up with those subjects I’m most interested in: science news, education news, updates on technology in education, world news, and music. Here’s a screenshot of my information intake for a typical morning:

My TweetDeck homepage on Mozilla Firefox.

My TweetDeck homepage on Mozilla Firefox.

If you’d like to learn how to do this to enhance your learning at school, just stop by during one of my science help sessions, and I’ll help you get set up!

How to use this site

Due to some unfortunate technological issues, I’ve had to reformat my entire science website. It my sincerest hope that I will shortly be updating this site so that it is as relevant and informative as past versions.

Looking for your class? Follow the menu headings at the top of the page for class-specific blogs. I’ve got a page for my IB Environmental Systems and Societies (ESS) class, another for the new Science Writers’ Workshop (SWW) at the International School of Tanganyika, another for my IBMYP grade 9 integrated science class (Grade 9), and a page to let you know a little more about my teaching practice (About Mr K).

Each class has links to a course overview and syllabus, assessment calendars, assignment rubrics, and a plethora of online resources I’ve screened to make sure they’re relevant to the topics we study in class as well as age-appropriate for my students.

The syllabus outlines the rules and expectations, grading policies, units of study, and protocols for each class I teach.

Google calendars show what we’re doing in each class on a given day, as well as all the major assessments – projects, tests, and other ‘large’ assignments – in all subjects for the same grade. These calendars help students and teachers schedule work so that no one gets overwhelmed with everything due at the same time.

Assignment rubrics show the general MYP assessment criteria used throughout the grade 9 course on all assignments. Every graded assignment in MYP science is assessed under one or more of 6 different criteria, which measure students’ skills in certain areas of science. Instructions for each assignment always include the criteria used for assessment.

Other online resources may include worksheets from teachers at other schools, YouTube videos, Flash animations, news articles, data tables, infographics, or just about anything else available on the web today. The only criteria I use here are that 1) the resource must be directly relevant to what we’re studying in class, and 2) the resource must be scientifically accurate.

Welcome to Mr Kremer’s science site!