Teaching, Thoughts

POWER-On Learning- What the Super Bowl Blackout, Beyonce, and Twitter Teach us about Effective Instruction

out of focus

out of focus (Photo credit: Tim Cummins)

Who’s got the POWER?!  Who’s got POWER-On Learning?  “POWER-On Learning” is powerful instruction that inspires, thrills, engages, provokes creativity and humor, and instruction that is so good through numerous facets that students leave saying “WOW”!  During this learning student POWER- brain power- is on and fully engaged in relevant and long-lasting learning.  This is the type of learning that students look back at and say, “WOW, __________(insert teachers’ name) was the best teacher I ever had.  I learned so much from ____________.  I will never forget what_____________ taught me.”  My friends, this is POWER-On Learning!

Who’s got the POWER? Where has the POWER gone?  Sometimes educators become so wrapped up in making the grade for AYP, Race to the Top, and other standardized assessments- so schools won’t fail, so educators won’t lose jobs, and so educational funding won’t dry up (funds that are so desperately needed)- that we neglect the important principles behind educating students.  Teaching has become so standardized and data-driven obsessed that the “POWER” behind student learning is being neglected and sadly often lost.  Don’t get me wrong, assessments, data analytics, and the like are important.  I’m not downplaying their role in monitoring student learning growth and instructional targeting in areas that need improvement.  I however am saying that we need to refocus our instructional practices to spark minds, POWER our students to their full potential.  Super Bowl 47 which was last night, can teach us a few things about POWER-On Learning.

Earlier this evening, say between 7 and 8:30 PM EST the Superdome (in New Orleans, Louisiana) at Super Bowl 47 encountered a blackout– half of the lights went out in the stadium.  The approximate time of the blackout can be determined by Twitter hashtag analytics for #blackout, #superbowl, and #sb47, the commonly used hashtags at the time.  The blackout was shocking, engaging, and POWERFUL to my curiosity.  I soon jumped on Twitter after my husband began reading amusing Tweets about the blackout.  My Twitter stream was on FIRE and so was my husband’s.  The stream was hard to keep up with because it was so raw, so ripe, so good, so engaging, so thrilling, so mind-boggling, so comical, and at times so inspirational.  The Twitter feed was like an #edchat Twitter feed.  The pace was moving rapidly.  I didn’t want to miss a thing, so I would scroll back and forth trying to read everything.  I didn’t want to miss anything!  Within minutes of the blackout someone created a Twitter username called @SuperBowlLights who at one point when I looked had 14,000 followers within an hour or two of the event.  Many in the Twittersphere wanted to catch what @SuperBowlLights had to say.  They were curious and engaged.  This person was genius in using the moment to create a cult following and entertainment.

Within minutes of the blackout the company that produces Oreo cookies had a great advertisement slogan out.  They used marketing genius to release this live event in social media to create a Oreo cookie advertisement.  Guess what?  It worked!  Their brilliant advertisement reminded me of the Oreos I have in my cabinet that I rarely eat.

Humorous Tweets kept flowing in as the TV announcers tried to talk boring through the live event.  I kept scrolling from older Tweets (only a few seconds old) to newer Tweets (immediately published) so that I wouldn’t miss anything.  I was engaged, focused, and moving like 50 miles per hour (sarcasm) in my Twitter feed.  Many Twitter users were posting Tweets saying that Beyonce’s performance was soooo powerful that she knocked the lights out.  These types of Tweets were said in many forms but relating to the same topic.  Beyonce’s performance was electrifying and powerful!  The power outage happened in the beginning of the 2nd quarter not too far after Beyonce’s performance.  I’m not saying her performance definitely knocked the lights out, but the Tweets were hilarious.

The thrilling circumstances can teach us a thing or two about good instruction.   Beyoncé had the audience engaged with her thrilling and powerful performance. She had great special effects and lights everywhere.  The POWER was on!  Soon, after her performance the outage occurred.  The power was out!  The lights went off.  Everyone was in shock.  The TV announcers tried to cover the time but were boring and not engaging.  They turned me off from wanting to pay attention to them.  I could care less about the announcers. What I did remember was Beyonce’s outstanding performance, the outage, the exciting Twitter stream, and the brilliant advertisement from Oreos. They got my attention.  They engaged me in what could be POWER-On Learning.  Why?  How?

The thrill, engagement, and curiosity that the Super Bowl blackout circumstances provoked in me is what students should experience during POWER-On instruction.  They want excitement!  They want engaging teaching!  They want teachers to provoke their curiosity and learning!   They don’t want boring monotone teachers talking frivolously or winging it such as the TV announcers were doing.  Students want electrifying and memorable teaching like Beyonce’s memorable performance.

They want bait and hook instruction that grabs their attention and makes them never forget what they learned and who inspired them.  They want teachers like the company that creates Oreo cookies. They want instruction that is bait and hook like the Oreo cookie advertisement.  It is unforgettable.  I will remember!  Students want OREO-Cookie POWER-On instruction.  They deserve this type of teaching.

Students want instruction that uses blended approaches using real human interaction, mobile learning, technology, online learning, and so forth.  They want instruction and learning that is meaningful to their learning needs and their interests.  They don’t want boring lectures from teachers rambling on and on like the TV announcers were doing during the blackout.  Students want the engagement from numerous facets.  They want blended learning and interaction such as what I was experiencing when I was talking to my husband about the blackout  (real human interaction), and the fast paced exciting Twitter Stream we were reading and engaging in.  This is what excited us!  We tuned the TV announcers out.  Our conversation with each other and the Twitter stream provoked our curiosity in what could be blended POWER-On Learning.

The Super Bowl power outage can teach, or remind us, about POWERFUL instruction and meaningful learning.    Too often education has become so standardized and data-driven obsessed that the “POWER” in “We’ve (Teachers) got the power to help students learn” is lost.  Assessment-obsessed and focused environments burn out the power.  They create power outages for teachers and students.  If the lights go out in the teaching, then the lights definitely go out in the learning.  Students then don’t have the “We’ve got the power (mind-power and learning)” either.  They are in an outage craving for the lights to be turned back on.

How do we turn the lights back on?  

We can use the Super Bowl blackout as an anecdote, to teach us valuable lessons about instructional focus, and about the learning outcomes of our students.  These events remind us of our roles as teachers of POWER-On Learning: the engagement we should give, the interaction we should have with students, the methodologies we should use, the purpose we should set for instruction, the objectives we should set for lessons, and so on.  It reminds us of our passions for teaching, and helps us realign ourselves with POWER- On instruction lastingly.

Do you want to be a POWER-Off teacher, an educator that creates power outages?


Do you want to be a teacher of POWER-On Learning that engages, provokes curiosity, and inspires students to everlasting learning?

Do you want to be the teacher that students say, “Ohhh…__________(insert teacher’s name) was so boring.  ___________ was a terrible teacher.  All__________ cared about were the test scores.  ___________doesn’t care about me.”


Do you want to be the teacher of the students that love your instruction and say, “WOW…_________(insert teacher’s name) was the best teacher ever!  ___________ taught me so much that I will never forget what I learned.  I will never forget ____________because their teaching was so inspirational.  _____________cared a lot about me as a student and wanted to help me learn.”…etc.

You decide!   Refocus!  Prioritize!  Engage!  POWER-On your Instruction!  

Power-On the Learning!


About adaptivelearnin

I am an educational professional who is passionate about needs analysis and materials creation to enhance student learning of all ages. I hope the content I share here will be of value to you in some way. Opinions are my own and are not those of my employer. Join me at my session for the 2013 TESOL International Conference, "ESL Instruction: Developing Your Skills to Become a Master Conductor", March 21 10:00 AM in room C144. My presentation focuses on listening, speaking and pronunciation music teaching techniques incorporated with ESL teaching. This is not your typical music/ESL presentation with chants and songs. Be prepared to use your vocal chords, diaphragm, lungs, mouth muscles, and arms like you have never used before in pronunciation, speaking and language instruction. Learn how to use music conducting skills in the language classroom to better facilitate language acquisition. Learn how to use music performance skills (vocal and instrumental) to better facilitate language learning. Be prepared to laugh and have fun. I look forward to meeting you and working with you.

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