Especially with my students, I am guilty of cramming as much information and as many instructions as possible into my slides. Granted, I try to space out the information and link them to relevant images that will aid in the students’ understanding and retention of the material. However, when I started becoming “Zen,” my first thoughts were ” how am I going to put all my information in there!?”
Garr Reynolds put together an extremely useful resource on Presentation Zen. He encourages us to slow down and really see the world around us. Design is everywhere, we just have to look for it. I took this into consideration when I was thinking of a way of introducing geometric solids to my students. Since geometric solids (in addition to design) are also all around us, I decided to use big, vivid images as the backdrop for my presentation, making the text minimal.
Starting out, making the images the focus and the text just a complement to them was difficult for me. Luckily, as I went along it became easier and easier to ditch extraneous material and to narrow it down to the core of my message. It began to take shape and not only was aesthetically pleasing, but informative in a not-overwhelming kind of way. Using the Zen principles, I was able to streamline my presentation to maximize both comprehension and visual literacy.
This presentation, when I shared it with my students, was one of the best I had used in my math teaching. It sparked some great dialogue about how and where the students had seen geometric solids in their everyday lives, along with giving them images they can associate with the concepts they learned in math class. Reynolds suggests that Zen presentations encourage the pursuit of discover and nurture curiosity. I hope that from my presentation, students are inspired to see the world around them in from a geometric perspective, one of curiosity and discovery.