Tag Archives: Matt Helmke

Course 3

Sometimes Less is Best

I recently presented my middle school art students with a PowerPoint on site-specific sculpture. It is part of a sculpture unit, which we are still working through, and I am finding myself having to do a lot of re-teaching which I had not anticipated. Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot. After viewing “Presentation Zen: An Overview” on YouTube in which Matt Helmke summarizes suggested best practices from Garr Reynolds book Presentation Zen. I decided take another look at my own presentation.

As part of my recent efforts to utilize class work time and keep my students focused I have been trying to cut back on the length of my presentations. The trick of course becomes how to juggle the shortening of presentations while still making them meaningful.  My site-specific sculpture PowerPoint consisted of all of six slides. So while it was concise in quantity and it did have valuable information as I look at it now it seemed to lack focus. What I failed to really look at was the big picture or what was it that I really wanted and needed my students to come away with after this presentation in order for them to have a successful start to this sculpture lesson? There were slides that were not only too wordy but also all together unnecessary for the task ahead, which was finding a suitable, inspirational location for their own module sculptures.

One slide in particular jumped out to me as really being all I needed to get my point across. It defined what site-specific art was and what my students really needed to know to get started.  The slide itself consisted of entirely text and is extremely unoriginal and easy to tune out. The text was edited down into more four separate slides with more succinct statements in hopes that the main ideas will be more easily digested.

Slides of art with a more conceptual idea such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude “Surrounded Islands” were disregarded, as they only seemed to create confusion and an infatuation of why on earth somebody would want to wrap islands with oink fabric! The images were also very impractical for my students, making them harder to process and digest. Most of the original visuals were changed out with other that seemed to better fit the textual information now being presented. Unfortunately the revised presentation is going to have to wait another year for a test flight!