Teaching with Presentations

Last week, my students presented their China Book project (students made a picture book in iPhoto about the Qin or Han Dynasty).  The presentations where very informal; students clicked through their book and explained the text and pictures.  The books turned out great and most students were able to produce professional-looking books.  I wanted the students to present for a number of reasons:
From: Todd Berman
1.     To show off their work
2.     To receive feedback from me and their peers
3.     To talk about design in general and how it applies to everything we do.
4.     To grade their work
I didn’t really intend for the presentations to be a teaching activity.  I wanted to talk about design, but I didn’t really think students would absorb content.  On the second day, we had a discussion about the effectiveness of the activity, so I could get some feedback from the kids about how I could improve and how much they learned.  I was surprised when students in different classes claimed they learned more from watching the presentations than from creating the book!?!

This form of peer-to-peer direct instruction was very effective, and something I plan on doing in the future.  I think it was effective because I involved the students in the evaluation of each book.  After each presentation, students would raise their hand and evaluate how well the book met the requirements. Then we identified strengths, and weaknesses.   I had to prompt a few students, but most students participated in the evaluation.  At one time I thought of student presentations as something that took up too much time and yield few benefits, but its all about design.  Two thumbs up on this experiment.  

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