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Dan Meyer workshop follow up—sharing his Jedi Keynote tricks

August 6, 2011

Update: I added a video made by Dan showing off his cool geometry problem

First I want to give a huge thank you to Dan Meyer for enduring the stifling heat and humidity of Atlanta to come down for a two back to back workshops and a public keynote. Dan is a class act—he was wonderfully patient with my ridiculous livetweeting yesterday, and offered so many hints, tips and tricks that it’s going to take me months to put some of this stuff into action.

Second, I want to say, no matter how many times you’ve watched a great teacher teach like Dan on video, or how many blog posts of his you’ve read, there’s just something different about seeing him live, and trying the problems for yourself. I was totally thrilled to see so many different approaches to the water tank problem from my colleagues, and it is amazing to see how genuinely he polls his “students” for feedback and suggestions about his own work, right in the moment. This is something I want to do more of. And he’s got a ton of great teacher moves, like saying to the kid who explains an idea too fast for everyone to understand, “Can you backup on that one for me—can you give me one more pass?”

Finally, Dan shared a few Jedi Keynote tricks that I just had to try for myself. So I’ve spent an couple of hours perfecting a few of them to share with you. Bottom line is that Keynote is 10 million times more powerful than I gave it credit for. I let my Tufte Schooling convince me that I should minimize my use of the dreaded slideshow, and so I never really dug deeply into just what is possible.

Here are a few things Dan showed us that were just awesome.

  1. Animated Geometry Problems: He animated a geometry figure in order to allow his audience to get into the guessing game. I’ll let Dan post this, but bascially, he took a pretty hard problem of two crossing segments inside a square that called on your to compare the areas of the 4 different shapes that were created by the segments. But by using the animation powers of keynote, he was able to move the segments back so that they were diagonals (and all the areas were 1/4), and then animate the segments to form the shape in the problem, leading to a huge increase in intuition.
  2. Update: here’s the keynote Dan showed off

  3. Moving twitter list: Dan showed off his awesome list of followers and all the crazy questions they came up on the new Apple office design. So he composted a screen captures of the twitter list into one long image, put it in keynote and then animated it to scroll up the screen.
  4. Moving lists in a window: This is a bit hard to describe, but I’ll give it a shot. Dan had a huge list of things he wanted to display on keynote one at a time. He set it up so it looked like you were scrubbing through the list and landing on just one specific thing (and you couldn’t see anything else), sort of like a slot machine. He did this by using the trick above, but then putting a copy of the background on top of the moving list, and slicing out a horizontal window in the middle of the screen to reveal the moving list below.

So I went home and practiced and put this animation together to give you a sense of just how powerful it is (and maybe this can serve as my application to Dan’s Keynote Jedi Academy when he decides hang up the math gig).

Of course, if you’re like me, you want to know how this is done, and the key is the Action Menu in the Build Inspector.

What I basically did was create 4 objects—the full trapezoid, the two half trapezoids, and the bisecting line. Then I build in the big trapezoid, wipe across the bisecting line, appear the two smaller trapezoids, drop the opacity of the big trapezoid to 0 to make it disappear, and then move and rotate the top small trapezoid to put it next to the bottom one, and did a lot of “move to back” to be able to select each of the objects to add the actions. Total time to do this: less than half an hour.

I’ve also linked to the keynote file in case you want to take a look.

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