Thursday, April 20, 2017

Presentation Matters Too!

April 2017: Presentation Matters Too!

As we continue to journey through our @ibpyp exhibition exploring our central idea "Collaboration in the ultimate classroom can change how kids problem solve, interact, and learn" (written by students... which I still can't believe) and explore our lines of inquiry: organization of space, how kids learn best, and types of learning technology (also written by students), we get closer to our final celebration and presentation of our journey. A celebration of this magnitude is worthy of some powerful and dynamic presentations.

Last fall, I took a course from +EdTechTeam on visual literacy. I had no clue what to expect going in, but I learned a lot about images, myself, my way of teaching, and the power of teaching your students not just how to present, but how to create presentations. After all, that's a life skill. While we have had a lot of conversations about design as an element of presenting, many of my students still needed ideas beyond what I could give. They needed to hear from someone who has given dynamic presentations to a lot of people. While I attempt to give my best go at being a dynamic presenter from day-to-day, there is power in learning from others and hearing special guests within the classroom. As much as we want our students to hold our everyday activities and teachings as gold, it is the inspiring presentations from beyond the classroom that really captures their attention. Plus, it's fun to sit back and learn a thing or two from a special guest too!

I reached our on Twitter to Sandra Chow (@watnunu) about an interest in doing a Google Hangout with my class about some ideas, guidelines, and advice for building a captivating presentation. I had seen Sandra's keynote and took several of her sessions when she came to the Cleveland Area Google Summit. She had tapped into the power of Dr. Seuss in her keynote and captured her ideas with powerful images. During our Hangout, Sandra shared her screen with the students as she showed them several helpful hints on how to build a presentation that hooks the audience in Google Slides. All the while, my fourth grade students were busy jotting down things that stood out to them, ideas that were important, and asking questions about presentation making.

I as reflect on this experience with my students, I wanted to share several of their questions, my observations, and other ways learning about how to create presentations has already impacted my 4th grade students:
  • One of my students is taking action by going to teach K, 2nd, and 4th graders are lesson on bullying and mindfulness. While the student had already created her presentation, she wanted to make it more visually appealing for audience. This student started to explore SlidesCarnival, selected a new theme, and integrated it into her presentation.
  • Another one of my students was busy working a presentation he is created as part of his independent corner action project. I found him Googling  Slide Master and several other formatting tools in order to figure out how to use them and their features within his slides.
  • A group of boys who is preparing a presentation BYOD to share with another fourth grade class as part of their action project began working to align the slide format throughout their Slide Deck so that things were less confusing. 
  • Some of the questions my students had were: 
    • Should there be more words or pictures?
    • How do you draw attention to yourself when you are giving a presentation?
    • Bright or dark colors?
    • Is it possible to have a presentation that no one disagrees with?
    • What color pops out the most for a presentation?
    • How can I make it so you could focus on the speaker more than the slides?
    • What would you do to make the people remember facts other than writing shorter?
    • What do you do if you freeze or things go wrong in your presentation?
As of right now, I still have no clue what our final presentation is going to look like. I can't wait to see where the students take it with all of their newfound knowledge! 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


April 2017: Action! Action! Action!

Despite state testing in the month of April, spring break, and a multitude of other things we had to accomplish, my students are so excited to return to their research and begin initiating their action projects. During this time, my classroom has been busy with kids talking to adults, each other, looking up recipes, designing corners, writing letters, asking questions, scanning books, and so much more. When I set out on this exhibition, I had no plan or direction for how action would manifest, just that we were going to take action at some point. Last year, my actions had been quick and thrown together. They mostly involved creating a visual of some sort and sharing it with some audience. While there was nothing wrong with that, it was an after thought. This time around, the actions belong to my students and they are honest, raw, and full of continual change. My biggest challenge during this process has been helping the students seek a focus in order to accomplish what they want to set out to do. 
My biggest savior during this period of time has been the return of my research mentors and the addition of new mentors. I created two new sign ups through Sign Up Genius in order to help schedule mentors (example: I also created some essential agreements which I believe to be key to the role of the action and presentation mentor. I shared these out with parents and volunteers through a Screencastify video uploaded to YouTube. The more we get involved, the more people I invite to join us. I was able to reach out to parents in our classroom, board members, teachers aides staff members. I even had a parent who works at one of the local universities ask me if I was interested in her education majors volunteering. I've begun to realize, that I'll take anyone who has a passion to help kids!  

One thing that I believe is so important to the action process is to give up control as the teacher. There is no telling what your students can accomplish when you relinquish control. This last week, I had a student come to me to say she wanted to change what her action project would be. She followed this up with, "You're probably not going to let me do this." I responded with, "Try me." She went on to detail how she wanted to create a slime corner in the classroom that would allow students to interact with slime which can help students with ADHD and stress. It would allow them to relieve their stress. I was surprised with what this student had chosen to undertake all on her own and after talking to her more, it was clear that she had already begun researching different safe recipes for students of different ages. As I wrap up this post, I can't help but share some of the amazing ideas flowing through my students which have impacted ever grade level and area of our school without ever planning to do so. 
  • Mrs. Hughes (4)- Julia would like to teach a 30 minute lesson to your class on different learning styles.
  • Mrs. Neimeister (1) /Mrs. House (K)- Noah, Sam, and Adam would like to temporarily set up an independent corner in your room where students can work better independently.
  • Mrs. Scully- Jake would like to observe your room and create a tool that might help 1 or more of your students learn better.
  • Mrs. Diso/Morris (K) / Mrs. Speith (2)- Bella would like to teach a lesson to your class about bullying and mindfulness
  • Mrs. Medved (1)/ Mrs. Lozada (3)- Carson and Anna would like to temporarily set up a corner with different fidgets students might use to help calm themselves or make them less anxious
  • Ms. Craven (Library)- Danna and Kaylee would like to create a “mystery book” area in the library with a few books
  • Mrs. Winter (BOE)- Dana would like to make a collage board of types of furniture to consider for the new school and present it to the BOE
  • Mrs. Thrasher (4)- Tanner and Luke would like to talk to you and then your class about introducing Bring Your Own Device
  • Mr. Sanfilippo (Principal)- Gabe would like to share recommendations of types of robotics type things to get for the classroom
  • Mrs. Larcey (1)- Loutfi and Jax would like to teach your class how to properly sign in, sign out, and take of the Chromebooks
  • Kevin plans on temporarily setting up 4 colored reading corners to see which colors have different effects on kids
  • Lucas and Charbel are designing a desk organizing tool to help students keep their desk neat
  • Gabriella and Sami plan on using the wheelchair for 2 days to see how kids get around the school and the challenges they might have
  • Lorenzo plans to write a book about creating the ultimate classroom
  • Annabelle plans to create a system for checking out books in our classroom
  • Janiyah plans on creating slime which can be used as a fidget to help relieve student stress and working with Anna and Carson to add it to their corners