“The Friendly Eraser” (with “a touch” of Dogme) Has Its Debut

In a recent post I asked if a “No-Tech” talk would lead to this:

yawn1At this week’s AWESOME ETAI Jerusalem Conference I paid special attention to how other people were using technology at the conference.

On one hand, while I may not have been the only presenter without a PowerPoint presentation, you didn’t need many fingers to count us. The  presenters whose talks I attended used the PowerPoint well! Fran Sokel (who was at IATEFL Brighton!!) used it to present quotes from research on Effective Teaching and Jane Cohen (from the British Council), for example, delighted us with images related to a thought provoking lesson plan for students on “Is Google making us dumber?” Believe me, there were many others, too!

In addition, how could you have such a hilarious Pecha Kucha without PowerPoint?

On the other hand, almost no one took notes during a talk on any form of computer (nobody was tweeting the lectures either!). The sponsors provided paper and pens and they were extensively used. I felt the power of my PLN when I was the only one who recognized WORDLE when used in a talk.

At my talk, teachers seemed genuinely interested in things they could do using only the whiteboard, the marker and the “friendly eraser”. I hear that more and more schools have a Smartboard in some classrooms ( I personally have not seen one yet) yet it seems that for a large percent of teachers the simple whiteboard is what they use the most.

My talk was about weak pupils in high-school, who have trouble concentrating during the best of times and particularly so when something “occurred” before class. Paying homage to Jason Renshaw and Mike Harrisson (see links by clicking on the Live Binder icon in the middle column of the homepage) we went through building a short text with the pupils with no previous knowledge (on the teacher’s part) of what would be the issue on their minds, despite their limited vocabulary. Then we “milked” the text in a number of ways using only the “friendly eraser” and the marker. I brought the first text, for the absolute weakest level, ready from my classroom ( and wrote it on the board). But I was getting more confident as the talk proceeded and created the next text with the teachers in the room on the spot (it was named “Never Buy an Engine from a Mermaid!)

I ended the talk by reading out Shel Silverstein’s short poem “This Bridge” (see Live Binder!).  I was trying to stress the point that other teachers don’t have to do these things the way I did them. I  read ideas and adapted them to suit my needs, thus making them my own. As it says in the poem “This Bridge will only take you half way there” one can’t expect  a strategy or a lesson plan to fit your class and your teaching style as it is. “The last few steps you’ll have to take alone.”

Oh! And I didn’t see anyone yawn!

13 thoughts on ““The Friendly Eraser” (with “a touch” of Dogme) Has Its Debut”

  1. Hey Naomi sounds like you did an awesome job… would have loved to have been there. You’ve got a lot of guts and I’m sure that you’ll have made a big difference to the people who watched your presentation 🙂

    Presenting to other teachers is something I have yet to gain the courage to do and I have a lot of admiration for those that do!

  2. Thanks for always being so encouraging, Anna!
    Regarding presenting to other teachers – I wonder what options are available to you. Our ETAI is a great organization and I have been a member for more than 20 years. When you have a supportive framework it is much easier to begin!

  3. Naomi!
    I was hoping you’d update us about your Presentation. It sounds wonderful, useful and creative.

    I was at the Int’l Conference at Yad Vashem – but otherwise, would have loved to have been there.

    Off to check your LiveBinder


  4. Was happy to read about your presentation. Knowing you, I am sure it not only went well, but had super and practical ideas. By using only a whiteboard and markers, one is forced to focus on the c’s of the presentation or lesson plan – content, coherence, cohesiveness and creativity – in order to engage the participants. Not an easy task.

    Thought you might be interested in this article.

    The blogger, Matthias Poehm, is campaigning to “outlaw” power point. But, power point is just a medium, not to mention a medium with amazing potential. And, just like with any other medium (visual, audio or written) it becomes a problem, when it is abused. More often than not, rather than focusing on the 4c’s, presenters embellish with gimmicks. Banning power point because of misuse would be like banning films, music and even books!

    What I found particularly interesting in your ETAI description was the fact that there was no use of computer devices to take notes and there was no tweeting. I have been to a number of conferences and presentations (not education), in which tweeting was actually encouraged as a means of engaging with the audience and Facebook for follow-up dialogs. RE: electronic note-taking, as no re- typing is required, it’s a major timesaver. Moreover, it allows for hyper linking and it’s an efficient way of integrating quotes and references in future documents.

    So, what does this tell us about the teachers and where they are at? What does this tell us about the growing gap between the world of teachers and that of today’s students? Rather than continuing to impose our ways onto students (because this is what we know and are comfortable with), shouldn’t we at least try to familiarise ourselves with what our students know and are comfortable with?

  5. Hi Naomi
    Nice summary and sorry I missed your session. I am heavily into lexicon right now so went mostly to the British Council seminar. Anyway it was a great conference and I am glad you enjoyed it too and your talk went well. I also enjoyed Pecha Kucha very much. However I can’t help feeling that technologically many ETAI teachers are falling behind, don’t know the power of the web, don’t know what googleplus is, or what a webinar or twitter are etc etc.Have a great summer.

  6. Judih, Judy and Ruth!
    So nice to have this discussion with you all who know ETAI and ETNI!
    I think the situation with teachers and technology here is more complex. While what has been said in these comments may be an apt description of a sizeable amount of teachers, to some extent what we saw at the conference is indicative of the “conference scene” here and not necessarily of general use.
    Take me, for example. YOU know that I tweet, blog attend webinars, know a WORDLE when I see one and more. But if you had been observing me at the conference you may have made the same assumptions about me. I gave a no-tech talk and don’t own a mobile device (for one conference a year the price seems too high!)
    Also, as Judy knows better than all of us, Israeli English teachers seem to be the only ones in the world to have the unique ETNI LIST, so twitter as a proffesional community doesn’t seem as attractive to many.
    Though I’ll have to admit that there are still so many English teachers not on ETNI, sigh…
    In any case, don’t feel bad about missing my talk – it would have seemed familiar to you as you read all about me experimenting with the strategies!
    Thanks for writing!

  7. I’m glad to hear that your presentation went well, Naomi. I also smiled at the fact that you used a Shel Silverstone poem to round it off! His were the first I was exposed to, way back in Grade 5. There was one in particular written from the perspective of someone being consumed by a boa that I loved.

  8. Tyson!
    So glad you find Shel Silverstein delightful too!
    I really feel that the message related to the poem about having to take to the final steps on your own is one not emphasized enough in lectures and workshops for teachers. These are not prescriptions, they must be adapted over and over for each individual teacher and class. Hmmm, maybe that’s a topic for another post!

  9. Hi Naomi,
    Glad to hear your presentation went well. The comments about the general technological awareness of teachers compared to students are interesting as I think the situation is pretty universal – smartphones and laptops are only just catching on, and I don’t think they’ll be everywhere for a good while yet.
    I really liked your way of finishing the presentation too – it’s very important for teachers to realise that they have to take the final leap themselves.
    Well done!

  10. I can understand why some people want to have power point outlawed. A while back there was an article in one of the Israeli newspapers about how PP was being banned in most army presentations, as they felt it simply made people less receptive to what was being said.
    The problem is not in the technology, but in how it is being used. PP, and any other technology, should be used to enhance teaching and presentation in an imaginative way. Unfortunately, most uses of PP and other technologies are anything but imaginative. The worse thing you can do with a PP presentation, is to put up pages of text that you are going to read out in any case. Or even pause to have the audience read. The text and objects which are there should augment your presentation, allowing you to do things that you could not normally do without them.
    In the early nineties, when the administrators of Kidlink were meeting at a conference in Brazil, I shocked everybody by getting up and saying that I was going to present only with “chalk and talk”. They found this surprising, as I was known as the “tech geek” there, constantly pushing new technological initiatives. But it was a wakeup call – my subtly criticizing the way most of them were using technology without much thought or deliberation. I met someone who was there ten years later and he told me that my approach had “knocked his socks off” (his words) and got him to wake up to what we were trying to do there.
    I would have liked to have seen your talk, Naomi.

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