Elephant Poop Lab

Original Lesson

  • My original lesson was a pdf that had everything on one page, it was a wall of text and white paper, and it did little to allow students to interact or guide their thinking as they worked through the lab. 
    Paper lab, lots of text and white space
    Original Lab Page 1

What I changed

  • I turned my lesson into a keynote presentation.
  • Slides can be hidden under other slides which allowed for a simpler flow, easier view, and really gave students more space to work and reflect.
  • Directions for each section of the activity were moved to the speaker notes section which kept the slide free for student learning.
  • Videos were embedded into the slide for student viewing. There was no opening into a separate window or clicking a link that was easy for students to ignore.


Light panel image of each slide in the keynote presentation
All slides (lightboard) in my document pushed out to students
One slide of the presentation with sub slides open on the left
Keynote with slides open on the side. Different areas of the lab can be closed to minimize distrations


  • Students were more engaged in the lesson because it wasn't on a different medium. They weren't doing another worksheet that students were putting into notability.
  • Students didn't skip over background reading or directions because the format was new and they had to explore each slide and make sure they completed every step. They were collaborating better and engaged more in what they were doing.

#d214 #biology #science


Tagged in: Science

All Replies

Posted on October 29, 2022

I really appreciate how you formatted your post to present an instructional design problem that you solved by reworking the original handout into a format that was more engaging for your students. As teachers, we do this work all the time, and it's so helpful when we share it with others and reflect on the impact of our design decisions. Thanks for sharing this work with us!

Posted on November 02, 2022

What a fantastic reflection, and great use of Keynote Slide notes! Congrats on your level of student engagement with changing the format of your lesson. 😉

Posted on August 06, 2023

This was my first semester trying out this lab and one question I had was, how far in advance do you prepare the "poop"? I'm afraid that I didn't prepare it far enough in advance. This way I can do the lab better in the spring semester.

Posted on September 22, 2023

Hey Christina!

We actually make the poop the morning of, otherwise it dries out and gets flaky. The cellulose gets whiter and the whole thing gets crumbly. We absolutely tell kids its really elephant poop and if you do it right it will totally fool the kids. What was your issue that had you second guessing this year?

Posted on September 22, 2023

I can send my recipe if you need it!

Posted on August 08, 2023

Such an engaging Keynote! Thanks for explaining your process and the “flip” of your lesson instructions and approach. I bet we all have “handouts” or lesson guides that would benefit from a Keynote make over!

Posted on August 29, 2023

this is awesome! thank you for sharing

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