Expectations

I’m thinking of trying something different this year on the first day in terms of class expectations. I think I’m going to have two. We will of course discuss what these mean. Hopefully we can generate a nice, mutually agreed upon list.

However, as I have no design/art/color training/sense/ability, I need help. Which is less bad? Advice is more than welcome. Feel free to suggest alternate colors, fonts, gradients… anything. (No, I don’t have Keynote. No, I can’t get it… school laptop.)

My goal is to find a theme that I can use all year. I need something that can be adapted for projecting diagrams/problems directly on the whiteboard (can’t have the cherubs writing on the screen).

Help!

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20 Responses to Expectations

  1. Steve says:

    Love the idea of a consistent theme for the year. I’ve been trying to finalise one for a while but I’m still not happy with it. It’s gotta be versatile enough for any sort of media I want to put up. One thing I’d note is contrast is essential – the bottom one needs the colour of the ‘Be’ changing – there’d be no chance of seeing that on my board without the blinds down. Also I’m unsure about gradients – again, the poor contrast on many projectors (especially when the bulbs are allowed to go past their change-by date) means they can be more of a hindrance than a help. They are pretty though, and good design goes a long way even in the classroom.

    Dan Meyer did a big post a while back on slide design – have a look: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=203 . He’s pretty hot on design – browse his archive.

  2. Steve says:

    Just saw he’s on your blogroll – good link for interested others though 🙂

  3. Kate says:

    Geez I usually just stick with the Smart Notebook default dark blue on white with Arial font.

    I like the gray better aesthetically but I find the beige more readable. Maybe darker gray/lighter blue? Or the other way around? I think both the gray and the blue are too mid-level at the moment. Also, expanding on what Steve said, you will probably want to see how these look with your projector in your room.

    Content wise these are identical to what I use with the addition of “Be Polite”. I start by saying that if they stick to the “3 P’s”, they will be successful in my class, and then I have them try to guess what the three P’s are. It’s my first think-pair-share which is a structure I probably over-rely on. Sometimes they want to add more like “Participate” and “Practice”, which is fine.

    Let us see your final design!

  4. Jackie says:

    Good point about the projector bulbs Steve, thanks. I’m in three classrooms next year. I guess that’s this year now. As for checking out Dan’s design stuff, yep, that’s where I first became aware of the concept!

    I think participating and practicing are part of being present Kate. Being fully present means so much more than just having your body in the room. Taking notes, asking questions, sharing answers, listening, … all of these things are part of being present. I like the polite. I may borrow that. Heck, I may have gotten these from you and not even realized it. Have you blogged about it?

  5. Kate says:

    (blogged about it)…nah, just started….these are pretty common, I definitely didn’t invent them.

    When “practice” comes up, the context is usually outside of class, as in “do your homework”. But I agree, “participate” is a subset of “be present”.

  6. Dan Meyer says:

    Hey, Jackie, not sure my input is needed here. The text is huge, legible, not Comic Sans, etc., I’d be pumped to be in your class. Both look good.

    Not that you asked how I’d do it, but for whatever it’s worth, I’d stick with shades of two colors. For example, my second semester slides use black and blue. The background is a light-blue gradient, the text on top is black, and any text needing emphasis (ie. present & prepared) is in a darker shade of blue.

    You’ve also emphasized your text in two ways (bold & color change). Try one of the two and see if your eyes like what they see.

    Anyway, great stuff, and the best part to me is the affirmatively-worded rules, which have nothing to do with design. How else will you use slides this year?

  7. Jackie says:

    Thanks Dan. Your input is always needed – especially on matters of design *bowing to the master*. I’ll try out your ideas when I actually try it out at school next week.

    Question: do you ever have kids up at the board writing over/around the projected images? If so, how does the blue background work out when projected directly on the whiteboard?

    As for how I use slides, I use them every day. There’s the standard “Welcome to Class!” and some start up instructions. Usually this involves a specific aspect of the homework on which they need to focus to compare methods/solutions with their group members.

  8. Steve says:

    *edit* Now browsing your archive… I seem to be behind on the guru-blogger bandwagon, you were referencing Mr M before the thought of having my own blog was a twinkle in my grandpappy’s eye. I’m not really sure how to kick this thing off… anything I draft seems vastly inferior to what else is about in the ‘sphere.

    What ‘expectations’ have you used in the past? How have they gone down? I’ve been a bit ad-hoc in my class rules so far – I think firming up at the start of this year will be beneficial.

    Also, have you changed the background on that second slide or is it just that the sun’s gone in and is no longer on my screen?

  9. Jackie says:

    Nope, I didn’t change anything Steve. Well, as I have one whole year of having my own classroom under my belt, the first week of last year is a blur.

    Yep, I’m a Dan reader from wayback. A whole year and a half now. Is that a long time? I still feel like a newcomer. As for what you draft being inferior, I highly doubt that.

    Uhm, “browsing my archive”? There’s gotta be something better for you to do with a Sunday afternoon – or at least you’ll realize that your inferior comment is way outta line. 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    Come on Jackie, give yourself some credit. You’ve built up quite the archive over the past year–and I’m sure Steve’s not the only one racing through blogs in the back to school passive prep rush. And I’ve found comfort and inspiration in your blog since last fall.

    For whatever it’s worth, I like the first slide on basic instinct.

  11. Steve says:

    OK then, the contrast on the brown’un ain’t so bad – was reading on the train with sun shining through the window, as it does…

    I’ve never really written before, on a personal level, except for stuff I had to waaay back at GCSE all of (counts..) ten years ago. Still haven’t got a real theme or motivation other than ‘hmmm maybe I want a blog’. So the only way to go is to get something down and learn from you pros. And a year of solid, very readable, genuine blogging qualifies you whether you like it or not 🙂 I’m just conscious that whatever I put down becomes part of ‘online me’, or whatever Will Richardson calls it.

    See you around, just had an idea for a post 😀

  12. Jackie says:

    Thank you Sarah for the kind words. I love the “passive prep” bit. I don’t think it’s a bad thing though. Why recreate the wheel?

    Erh, thanks(?) Dan. Does that mean the blue works directly on the whiteboard when the cherubs write on it?

    “hmmm maybe I want a blot” is pretty much how I started Steve. It’s not like I had a well thought out plan or any plan. That “online me” piece is something of which I’m conscious of too. I’m still not sure what it means.

  13. Dan Meyer says:

    Whoops. Forgot the prompt. Yeah, real-life marker is sharper (contrast-wise) than anything I throw on the screen. In other words, I can use a black marker on a black PowerPoint slide and they’ll still see it fine.

  14. Greta Hoostal says:

    The second layout example is much easier on the eyes as the bright turquoise-blue in the first one looks garish against the dark grey. Please make your font sizes multiples of each other, such as 12 pts and 24 pts, while trying to keep things lined up neatly. The size of the “Be” words clashes with the size of the words “prepared” and “present.” Sorry I don’t have design advice of a more precise nature. I recommend the book The Elements of Typographic Style. It has a lot of information about sizes, spacing, and dimensions (around the middle of the book).

  15. Jackie says:

    Greta,

    Thanks for the font size tip! I think what you had to say was very helpful, so I’m not sure what you mean by “a more precise nature”. I’ll look into the book too – I need all of the design help I can get. Thanks again.

  16. Pingback: And so it Begins « Continuities

  17. Ian says:

    I just realized I was never able to stop by and thank you for this post. I read it at a time before the school year when I was looking for my own overarching theme for the myself and my students. I decided to adopt full-on. It’s posted in my classroom at a spot everyone can see, and I intend to refer back to it throughout the school year. Be prepared. Be present. So simple, yet so encompassing. Thank you!

  18. Jackie says:

    You’re welcome Ian. Thank you for taking the time to come back and comment – you made my day.

    These goals are working well for me. I’m feeling prepared for classes. I’m also feeling much more present in classes this year. And thanks for the reminder that it may be time to bring these back to the attention of my students!

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