Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Its time to bring this blog to an end and to do this I will give my thoughts and observations on this last semester as a liar. I honestly loved this approach to teaching for a number of reasons. Here is what I loved about being a liar:

1. Students were more engaged. I found the class seemed very alert compared to previous classes and did a very nice job in helping with the flow of the class. I found this to be true when having discussions about the material especially in the form of participation. (probably because they weren’t asleep)

2. They asked better questions. When I would get a question concerning the material the questions were much better and relevant to the material. This gave me the opportunity to spin the question back to them and tell them to find the answer. I did this at least 3 or more times week, which only happened a handful of times during a semester previous to this experience.

3. The book became the source of relevant information. This is where my lies came from and the Internet didn’t provide the answers they needed for the lies I was telling in a number of instances.

4. I was no longer the expert. I couldn’t be trusted which meant I am no longer the source of all information and answers. The students had to come up with the answers themselves or ask people in their group to help them with the answers, or turn to their books. This gave me the opportunity to work more with students who had real problems with material and not answer a simple question for a student because they wanted a quick answer. (forced them to be more independent in their learning)

5. Its challenging. I found in my attempt to find the lies that it was really difficult to identify lies and it forced me to look closer into the material as a result I found I learned more about spices as a result.

6. All is not what it seems. This is a life lesson, especially in this age of political mud slinging and misinformation in the media and online(Wikipedia). Students had the chance to see first hand what believing everything you hear can do. (remember a quiz they got which was completely lies they all failed) Challenge what you hear and what people say and “Seek the Truth” (class motto).

7. Research. The class did a great deal of research, whether they knew it or not. In researching the material I found that students learned more than if I would have told it to them. It has been shown students retain more of what they learn themselves through an active means than if it is told to them. As teachers we know there is a great deal of research behind that statement.

When I first read about lying in January, I had no idea what I was in for to say the least. I read the article and thought “this is a fun way to engage students in listening to what may otherwise be a boring lecture “ and kind of chuckled at the prospect of lying. I had no idea the ways I could use it and the benefits to me and the students it could have in an educational setting. My students responded very nicely as well and in a survey I did at the end of the year 9 of 27 students made comments about how they liked me lying and no one said they hated my lying when asked what they liked least about the course. Here are some of the comments I got (unedited of course):

“Some things i like about WAHG 1 are how Mr. Heiser trys hard to make the class fun and interesting and i like his teaching plan, and i think the idea of "identifying the lie" is good because it makes you think and puts your brain work harder because you have to think into the topic more.”

“The things i likied most about this class is the fact that you lied everyday. It keeped us on our toes”

“Well you should keep lieing, and you totaly rig that game of kickball.”(end of year game)

The other six comments were simply variations of “I liked the lies…”

In conclusion, I would recommend this approach to anyone. The benefits of teaching this way were prevalent everyday and only time will tell if there are any long term benefits this approach had on my students (if any). Before I go I would like to thank Steve Dembo who encouraged me, after seeing my presentation on “Lying for learning”, to blog about and share this experience with you, it has been a real great piece for me to reflect on my teaching and make me a better teacher! Thank you Steve I found this blogging experience to be a rewarding experience in itself! To the readers I would like to thank you for reading because without you I wouldn’t have continued to write about it. Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Turning the tables (how I did)

Let me apologize for how long it has been since my last entry. End of the year stuff has kept me from blogging about how I did when the tables got turned on me. It will be officially two weeks since my students, finished their presentations where they had their chance to lie to me and the class in their presentations. I had 9 presentations to view and identify the lies. As mentioned in my previous post I told them how many of these presentations I've seen over the last 10 years and told them they would really have to bring the "heat" if they wanted to sneak a lie past me (my challenge). Needless to say I failed miserably! Now this is an omission I may with pride because they did a fantastic job from top to bottom and I'm very proud to have made this challenge and "lost". I will admit, it was difficult, to say the least, identifying the lies of my students, it was obvious they took my challenge very seriously! They did a fantastic job masking their deceptions and one of the students used the no lie trick I got them with multiple times throughout the semester. As mentioned, I did a lousy job in finding the lies, in fact, I was able to identify 1 (sort of) lie in the 9 presentations. Not very good for the self proclaimed “expert”. After this little experience, I can clearly say that I can see the difficulty in what I was doing everyday with my class but I also see the value.

What I found valuable about being lied to is this:

1. I paid very close attention to the presenters and my mind was not able to stray, for if it did I would surly miss the lie.(as we know now that didn't matter)

2. When I went and researched the information to find the lies I found I learned more about the topic then previously known because the requirement to dive into the information to find the lie. (I researched some of them and found the answers but technology wasn't part of the deal for identifying their lies)

Now the lie I was able to find (sort of) was a contradiction in the presentation I picked up and had the student not contradicted himself I would have not identified the lie. Though my explanation of what the lie was wasn’t the best I felt it was adequate and as I see them from now until they graduate roaming the halls that I didn’t get skunked by their lying (sort of)…

Lesson: I don't know if this is a lesson but I did notice that the presentations were much better this year. It could be because they wanted to get the lie past me and did a great deal of research on their topic or something else but for whatever the reason is way they were the winners!

Next Entry: Final entry (recap and analysis)

*Note about Final entry: I had the students do anonymous surveys about the class, my techniques, interest, and will be looking over and summarizing this information for the next few weeks. The last entry for this blog will be June 23rd.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Poem

The following is a poem written about me, as if it was me saying it (hope that makes sense). Anyway, I thought it was cool and wanted to share it.

"My name is Heiser and I teach history.
I lie everyday about what, that's a mystery.
All you have to do is listen very well
'Cuz guess what I'm never gonna tell.
It could be about the lesson or even my hair
for all you know it could be about the fair.
At the end of the class if you don't find the lie
you got til tomorrow, cuz you only get 1 try.
Some kids like it, some kids don't care
Some kids think its just not fair.
I see you tomorrow try and find my lie
So get your book and computer and give it one more try!"

What can I say?

Next post: How did I do? (turning the tables presentations)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Turning the Tables

     This entry is a little different from previous entries because I haven't done anything yet. This entry is to set up what is going to happen over the course of the next week or two. Since I've been lying all semester I thought I would turn the tables on myself and give the students a chance to lie to me.Everyday my students come into the classroom under the impression they must have all the answers, or many of them (if that were the case I wouldn't have a job). Today, I will be introducing the research project for this unit. The topic is spices and the project is to do a comprehensive look at the spice of choice. The class will be doing the same project like in previous classes with a twist, they must put in one lie. My rational for this is pretty simply, its hard to find and develop lies, in fact, it takes a great deal of research to find material which isn't obvious to the learner (in this case will be me).

     With the experience I have in this realm I figure, I'm setting myself and the class up for the best set of presentations I've had from them all semester. Since, I've been doing this project for years(or at least a variation of the project) and have heard almost everything there is to hear on the subject they will be presenting. Obviously, I plan on introducing the project to the students today by telling them about my extensive knowledge in this area and the difficulty they could have in stumping me. I think if I introduce it this way they will see my words as a challenge and encourage them to one up me. Now this is the plan but only time will tell how well they learned the material for making a great lie.

     One last twist to this is if they get the lie past me I will award them bonus points for stumping the self proclaimed “expert.” Now anyone who has been following this blog knows I make no pretenses of beingan expert but to them I do. I figure it will make the challenge of finding and/or creating good lies more rewarding. However, knowing the nature of kids, I fear they will talk to their friends about their projects and what they are doing inadvertently leaving the cat out of the bag. So, one last perk will be I'll give to give additional points if they can get the lie past their classmates. If the class figures out the lie they get the points otherwise the bonus goes to the group who presented. If anything this should be an interesting set of presentations in the coming week. This entry won't be complete for a few weeks so I will revisit it after the presentations.

Lesson: When this is all done I hope the students, through their own research learn a lot about the topics being presented.

Next entry: ?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Technology (revisited)

     In my last entry I was struggling with my lies and the students’ ability to fact check me online. Last time I decided I was going let my students use technology to fact check me. To give a quick summary, I formulated great lies in which my student debunked using Google in .15 seconds a million times over, leaving me in a position to rethink my approach. (Fast forward to the present) Over the last week and a half since my last entry I’ve been working on how to challenge this generation while they fact me online. I turned to a resource that has been reliable to me and most of you, I imagine, throughout our academic careers…BOOKS! Yes, the media responsible for replacing the scroll many years ago. I turned to some book resources and started to read more about the topics I would be teaching in the coming days and found a great deal of great information I had not known myself before taking this adventure. Whether or not it would hold up to Google and its amazing search capabilities, remained to be seen.

     My class is doing the Middle Ages and my challenge as a teacher was to find something not only relevant to the time period but it needed to be interesting. Monday, we started class by talking about the Power of the Monarch and traditions of Parliament in England. Now while doing me own research on Parliament I read an interesting story about a Parliamentary tradition in which members of Parliament turn and face walls during prayer, that is true I just had to add my twist. We first discussed Parliament and its similarities and differences between it and Congress. With Parliament fresh on their minds, it was time to set up the lie, so I stated, “Okay, story time”. When I announce “story time” the class will tend to lock on to what I tell them because they realize it isn’t in their textbook (or is it). I proceed with the story about traditions and practices in Parliament and the lie was now out to be scruntized. All the while the students are typing away on their laptops, anticipating a student finding my lie before I could start my next sentence I paused and asked any questions? Nothing! I proceed with the rest of the lesson and as the end of the period neared, students ask “Mr. H did you lie to us today?” to which I answered, “Yes!” From there the guessing started because they realized their homework list just got longer and this time it was graded. Stumped someone asked, “Did you lie to us about Parliament?”, to which I answered “Yes, good luck finding it!”

     The next day came and one of my students came up to me and said, “Mr H I couldn’t find your lie, I searched on line for 3 hours last night and I couldn’t find anything that didn’t check out.” (class is going to be interesting) My class came in 4th block and as expected no one was able to find the answer, anticipating this would be the case. We talked about Parliament traditions and I told them the lie at which point one student remarked, “I looked on line and couldn’t find anything about that on line.” To myself I thought, “Awesome!” I continued this practice the rest of the week and this week, in fact, I even started to record my discussions and post them on line so the students could hear what I said giving them a better chance in finding my lie…


Books are still king. The information about Parliament I found in my book (teachers edition) and it did appear online but wasn’t easy to find even for me. I saw this as the opportunity to tell my class that though the Internet is a good resource for quick information books are still the best resources they have for doing research. Internet should supplement not replace books as the major resource for research.

Next entry: Turning the tables

Tuesday, April 20, 2010



Technology is being promoted heavily in schools and students are using it for research more now than ever, so how can a liar use this to his advantage? I decided since my cart of laptops is working I would expand my lies to include materials from the Internet.  My mission was to find sites and resources which would fall into the category of not so good and use information from them in class. This essentially ups the ante for me, since my students are quickly becoming better researchers.

Recently, I started using my laptops so that students could take reading quizzes but rather than put them back in the cart why not have them fact check me using the Internet with resources they feel are reliable. In using the Internet, they have a broader scoop of information to pull from challenging not only them or so I thought. It, also, challenges me to be more deviant as well. The risk I run by doing this is students will use any Internet site without so much as batting an eye on the validity and reliability of the information. Knowing this I went forward because I see this as something I can build upon for later lessons on validity and reliability in research from the Internet. I found reliable and valid information to use for creating the lie and proceeded.

Recently, we did a unit on Islam and we were looking at the similarities and differences between the Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi, so throwing out a lie in this one would be pretty easy, or so I thought. I threw out my lie and within seconds, literally, they identified the lie. I thought I did a great job formulating this lie and they got it without even blinking an eye. I did this for a couple of days and haven’t been able to get one past them as I had previously; it seems technology has made this too easy for them. So, what do I do? How can I get past the fact the Internet and Google can give them the correct answer in a million different pages/ways in .15 seconds? How do I overcome this obvious advantage my students have in this realm? Trust me (an oxymoron I realize) these were good lies. My task as the teacher now has to be how do I use the technology and still challenge them to find the lie even with the obvious speed of Google…


Under estimated  student’s ability as researchers: This lesson is for me, I seriously underestimated their ability to find information as stated above I have a lot of work to do bring the challenge back to my lies. Granted I could just put the machines away and the challenge is back, but what will that teach them?

Next entry: Technology (revisted)

Friday, April 9, 2010


     In recent months I’ve seen a great deal of heated debate, on tv, on a number of hot issues in government and in every instance the same scene seems to play itself out! You know the one, where a person with an opinion contrary to the larger group is being shouted down by the masses, basically quelling any further argument or debate. Recently, I had a similar situation play out in my class only I was the “shouter” and a student of mine would be the one who would lose his voice.
     Recently, I assigned a map exercise to my students and towards the end of the period I decided to bring up a copy of the map on the whiteboard to go over it. I started with the first location called on a student to give the answer and had the student write the answer on the board. I did this a couple of more times when I called on one of my more outgoing students, who we will call “Mr. Wrong”. I asked “Mr. Wrong”, “where is Macedonia, he came up to the board and wrote the answer right where it needed to be. After he wrote the location, I quickly turned and asked the class, “Is this correct?” I had one person from the peanut gallery say "no", and I said, “Right this is supposed to be up here” and moved his answer up further than would be reasonable for the location of Macedonia. He quickly jumped in and said “no its suppose to be lower” and at that point other members of the class said, “No, Mr. H is right it should be higher” Immediately other voices chimed in and quickly all argument ceased.. Had I pulled it off?( I thought to myself). The remainder of the exercise, he sat there quietly just watching and listening. At one point he started to look through his book, but still not a word. I got through the entire map and the end of the period was upon us, so I asked, “Any questions on the map?” Well of course “Mr. Wrong” had something to say, “Mr. H, you are wrong. Here look at this map. Here is Macedonia and it’s in a pretty straight line with this sea which is where I had it. Not up there where you have it..” I looked at his map gave him a smirk and told him to write it up on the board. I then announced to the class on your maps you will need to change Macedonia from here and write it here (pointing to the map as I gave this instruction). I announced, “That was my lie!”

     This unlike other lies was group a effort though they didn’t know it. I got this idea from a psychology experiment where people in a group will give blatantly wrong answers to convince the subject to go along even if they knew the answer was wrong. I varied this of course, rather than the group give the wrong answer I hoped they would side with the “expert” and in doing so pressure “Mr. Wrong” into giving up his argument. If it didn’t work he still caught my lie.


The “expert”. The whole idea of me being an expert is absurd. Many students don’t challenge me for various reasons, the most common one I hear is, “Well you are the teacher”. In a democracy we need to speak up and have our voices heard no matter how unpopular our ideas may be to others. Example, Health Care Reform… (Next time I do this, it will be with one of my more introverted students)
Next Entry: Technology