The Beauty of Sand

Part of the new Presentation tips series

Sand and Possibilities

Adapted image, Aylam with Big Hand by Hanaan Rosenthal

While growing up I hated sand. Sand was just an annoying particle that stuck to everything when I went to the beach, my hair, my feet, my mouth…. One day, my former Pastor told us a story about sand. He described how the ancient tribes in the Old Testament would meet another tribe and mix sand from their land with sand from the other tribe’s land in a bag. The tribal leaders would then say, “When we separate each other’s sand that is when we will no longer be in agreement.” Each tribe kept that bag of sand for generations. In this case, sand became a bond of peace. I looked at sand much differently after this beautiful story. I began to smile at the amazing sculptures by children. Mixed with inspiration sand to them becomes something amazing and beautiful. It represents lands and fantasies in their minds. Sand is now one of my favorite particles. My favorite place to reflect is on a sandy beach. I love to sit on the sand, watch the waves, and think for hours. I have a ritual where I often listen to Sara Brightman’s Pie Jesu and dig my feet deep in the sand and count my blessings. Sand has become sacred to me when it was once annoying.

Yes, that's my foot in Barcelona 😉

In the same way, technology is annoying to many educators and parents. Technology is everywhere and they see how enchanted children become with it instead of school, chores, or having family time. Part of presenting about technology or anything your audience will find annoying is to show them the possibilities. Show them how you allow students to create, collaborate, problem solve, and think critically with technology. Tell them the stories of children connecting with others worldwide.

We open eyes by sharing our stories.
The story is one of the most important pieces of any powerful presentation.

The Art of Storytelling


The best way to learn how to effectively tell a story is to learn from great storytellers. One of my favorite podcasts is “This American Life” by Ira Glass.  In this video, Ira Glass gives advice on anecdotes:

When you share a live story think about your voice, pitch, pauses, movement, hand and facial gestures. Think about ways to play with the story. Perform it in front of a mirror or video record yourself telling the story. Often it is best to memorize the story first then practice the gestures. Practice sharing your story with friends or family and monitor their reactions.

Perhaps you aren’t the best storyteller. Don’t worry your students are and when you can let them share their anecdotes about the instructional practice. A marriage counselor shared with me great advice, “Parents cannot stay angry at their children for too long because they’re blood but you they can stay angry at.”

Storytelling through Visuals

Image sequences that tell a story are also very powerful. Think about telling visual stories when crafting your presentation. This can be through slides or through a video you create or share.

Here’s a presentation that tells a story through images:

How To Make A Good PowerPoint

View more presentations from Seth dickens. You’ll recognize Seth from our PLN as @SethDickens, an educator just like you and me!

More Storytelling Resources

I’m certainly not the storytelling expert but hopefully you will find some of these resources useful:


Craft a story for your next presentation. Make it personal. If it touches you then the story will touch others.

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What are some of your favorite storytelling techniques?

In the next post of this series I will share my favorite websites to find hi-resolution stock photos.

Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) is an award winning digital innovator, an international speaker/consultant, and the author of Hacking Digital Learning with EdTech Missions, The 30 Goals Challenge for Teachers, and Learning to Go. She has trained teachers and taught English language learners in over 20 countries as an invited guest expert by organizations, like the US Embassy, UNESCO Bangkok, Cultura Inglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, ISTEK Turkey, and Venezuela TESOL. She has been recognized by several organizations and publications as a leader in the movement of teacher driven professional development as the founder and organizer of various online conferences, Twitter chats, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Two of the projects she co-organized were shortlisted for ELTons, #ELTChat and the Virtual Round Table Language and Technology online conference. She was named Woman of the Year by the National Association of Professional Women, awarded a Bammy Award as a founder of #Edchat, and named as one of the 10 Most Influential People in EdTech by Tech & Learning. Her greatest joy is being the mother of baby Savannah and Rosco the pug. Shelly has an Honors BA in English with a Minor in Communication and a specialization in Electronic Media from UTSA, a Masters in Curriculum Instruction ESL from the University of Phoenix, and a CELTA from CELT Athens. She regularly shares her tips for effective technology integration via Twitter (@ShellTerrell),, and on her blog,, which has won several awards and recognitions as one of the top ESL, Edtech and Elearning blogs. Find over 400 of her slide presentations at


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