Monday, November 9, 2015

Student Presentations

Having students present is something that has been done for along time and will continue to be done going into the future. It's good for students to get the experience and opportunity to show what they know and practice talking in front of people. Giving the students a chance to perform should never go away. What should go away is students standing in front of the class and reading a bunch of text off their power point slides. When this is done, the students are not presenting, they are just reading to the class. They are not showing evidence of learning/understanding if they are just reading. We want our students to present! A big myth is that power point is dull and boring and shouldn't be used. The tool is NOT the issue, it's what's on the slides. Some of the best presenters I have seen recently use power point. They are awesome at presenting, not because the tool, but what they have on the tool and, more importantly, what they say/how they say it. There are lots of presentation tools out there, some more "exciting" than others, but it still boils down to what's on the slides and what the students say. 
A few years ago, I wanted to go in a better direction for student presentations so I implemented the TED format for student presentations. If you ever watch TED videos, there's very little text on the slides. Just some images or talking points. You will NEVER see a TED presenter read off their slides, so why should we allow our students to do that?  
My recommendation for Student presentations:
*1-2 words per slide only. NO EXCEPTIONS (unless it's a poignant quote)
*No note cards or paper for the student to read off of
*Use insightful pictures to help tell the "story" of what the student is presenting on.  

Forcing students to these guidelines will increase rigor, thinking, learning and their ability to present thoughtfully and creatively.  

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