A presenter's enthusiasm will be contagious if he/she combines a meaningful mission with engaging examples and opportunities to extend the experience. - Annette Lamb
Whether learners use PowerPoint or Google Presentations, it's time to re-imagine our student assignments and assessments. Identifying a meaningful mission, infusing engaging examples, and offering opportunities to participate and extend the experience through technology-rich resources are critical to project pizazz. Eliminate the common problems that poison presentations and make your projects pop!
PowerPoint can be seductive. Young people and teachers alike are susceptible to it's charms. Small groups can be heard saying:
- Let's do a PowerPoint Presentation!
- Let's animate the clip art.
- Let's add a few bullet points.
- How about some crashing glass.
Rarely do we hear students or educators talking about the purpose of the presentation, the quality of the information presented, or opportunities to extend the experience beyond the presentation. These are the elements that make a presentation powerful... not clipart and annoying sounds.
You can download a short PowerPoint presentation that provides an overview for your students and teachers.
In the past, presentations often displayed factual information as a series of bullet points. Increasingly, skillful presenters are shifting their attention from disseminating facts to designing experiences that address the diverse needs of their audience and the many channels of communication available for conveying ideas.
Is PowerPoint seductive? Why or why not? Are you happy with the quality of student presentation? What would you like to see change?
Rather than exploring PowerPoint, this session will explore how to think differently about presenting ideas, representing ideas, and extending the experience. For instance, thinking about the structure of animals through the use of X-ray images by Nick Veasey from National Geographic.
A meaningful mission is at the core of an effective presentation.
- Not... "I want to tell you stuff about this topic so you know stuff".
- Instead... "I want to challenge your thinking about this topic".
For instance, you may have heard of the chrysalis stage of a Monarch butterfly, but did you know other insects have a similar pupa stage? For the mosquito it's called tumbler.
Think about your mission. Will you involve the audience in your inquiry process including questioning, thinking, inferring, and reflecting?
- Question. Encourage your audience to generate and think about questions. For instance, providing statistics encourages questioning. What questions do you have about the Internet Infographic?
- Think. Show children homes from around the world. Ask them to compare them to their own home. Use the following website: Homes Around the World, Houses Around the World, Wonderful Houses Around the World or go to Wikimedia Commons and explore by type or country. Also use the book Material World, listen to the NPR program, and explore Material World from PBS NOVA for ideas. Also consider the book Where Children Sleep.
- Infer. What makes Olympic swimmers different from other swimmers?
- Reflect. Reflect on primary source documents, speeches, and landmark decisions. We've all read the Gettysburg address, but what does it mean to you. What visuals would represent your thinking about the speech? Watch the project posted on YouTube.
When selecting content, consider the spectrum of purposes. Is the presentation intended to entertain, emote, inform, instruct, challenge, engage, provoke or persuade? A diagram of a hand might be used to inform, while an image of a sick child might be used to persuade. What type of approach best fits your mission?
- Entertain. Cartoons are a good way to draw attention to a topic and entertain at the same time. Go to some technology cartoons.
- Emote. When exploring a topic, look for information or ideas that will connect with people at an emotional level. For example, rather than a traditional view of animals. Think about their relationships. Use the Animal Sweethearts photos. For more ideas, view the Animal Courtship Infographic.
- Inform. When exploring the human hand consider the best way to visualize the parts for discussion. Credit: Wrist and Hand by Wifredor, Wikimedia, CC-A-SA
- Instruct. Use images and video as part of a presentation to demonstrate an idea or teach a concept. Watch Instructable videos for ideas. Many are YouTube videos that you may need to download for class. Use Zamzar to download, then insert into presentations.
- Challenge. Who owns the Arctic? Use an infographic to explore the issue and challenge thinking.
- Engage. When you think of microscopic beings you might not think about them as living things with daily lives. Use photographs to bring them to life. Read Micro Monsters.
- Provoke. Use video as a way to provoke people to think in different ways about a topic. For instance, explore the videos at Truth.
- Persuade. Combine images with statistics for a powerful statement. Use the image collection from the Center for Disease Control such as Smallpox by James Hicks, CDC.
Select content that matches the mission. Do you want participants to enjoy or take action? Select a word that could provide focus for a student presentation assignment. What type of assessment could you use to evaluate this type of assignment?
Engaging examples bring life to a presentation.
- Not... "I'll show you things you've already seen or heard before".
- Instead... "I want you to see and think in new and exciting ways".
We often explore history through famous people such as presidents. However it's interesting to learn about every day people too. Use family photos to bring history alive. My great grandfathers played on the same football team in high school around the turn of the last century. Lynk Thomas is in the front row on the extreme right and Paul Kinnick is sitting beside him. What would they have thought of the president of the United States at the time?
Use compelling examples including stories, experiences, anecdotes, and varied resources. How will I bring the topic alive with my ideas?
- Stories. Bring human interest through stories that make the content of the presentation more interesting and connected. By 1951, Albert Einstein was well-known. However he was just a person like everyone else. He was known for his unruly hair and sense of humor.
- Experiences. You can't take your audience to the African Safari to explore the habitat of the zebra. However you could describe the habitat within the context on a panorama image. Go to Gigapan and 360Cities for many examples.
- Anecdotes. Rather than just providing factual information, incorporate stories to personalize information and provide a context. For instance, if you're talking about the use of animals in medicine and therapy. Find an example to illustrate the concept such as Tater Tot the minature horse.
- Resources. Incorporate a wide range of resources to explain a topic including books (Wolfsnail by Sara C. Campbell), illustrations, Educational Materials, Google Video.
What type of examples best fit my mission? Will the presentation contain known, familiar, comforting, connected, modified, different, atypical, or unique examples to convey ideas and information?
- Known. Talk about how well-known sounds and images reflect a particular topic or time period such as Dorthea Lange's Migrant Woman photograph.
- Familiar. Use a photograph to remind the audience about a topic such as space: Top NASA photos, 21 Greatest Space Photos. Explore the scientific composition of the moon plus five reasons we should return.
- Comforting. Use audio to reflect a place or time. For instance, This Land Is Your Land is a folk song that could be used to explore the regions of the US. The picture This Land Is Your Land has great images to go with the song.
- Connected. You can find famous photographs at Famous Photo website such as the National Geographic photo of an Afghan girl by Steve McCurry. People around the world associate this photo with Afghan women.
- Modified. Rather than using all of the statistics, let's think about 100 people. Watch the video Miniature Earth. Also, explore the book If America Were a Village.There's also a great infographic on the 100 people idea.
- Different. When you plan for a happy event, how do you celebrate? If you're from India you might participate in a 5,000 year-old tradition of henna hand designs. National Geographic's People & Culture photo gallery provides images that provide interesting views on cultures that might be different from your own.
- Atypical. Explore the lesser known aspects of history such as female astronauts. Jerri Cobb trained never made it to space.
- Unique. When studying buildings, sculpture, or other famous constructions, we often see the final structure. However, look for unique images that the audience may not have seen before. For example, explore the Eiffel Tower.
Do you want people to think "in the box" or "around the edges"? Select a word that could provide focus for one of your lessons or presentations.
Consider ways to extend the presentation experience by offering options that go beyond the primary presentations materials.
- Not... "When I'm done, you can ask questions I can't answer".
- Instead... "I want to involve you and extend the learning experience".
If you're using a document camera to share a book such as The Handiest Things in the World by Andrew Clements, think of ways to extend the experience by providing a camera and asking children to photograph their own hands.
How will I involve my audience? Organized opportunities to participate and extend the presentation experience include connecting to an online version of the presentation materials, sharing additional resources or participating in online discussions associated with the topic, or providing options for participants to take action and learn beyond the scope of the presentation.
- Connect. Help participants associate the topic with their own life. For instance, you might provide calculators and other online tools. Life expectancy calculators are an example that might be used when talking about healthy habits: Life Expectancy Calculator, Living to 100, The Longevity Game, Virtual Age. Also explore the Living Longer Interactive.
- Extend. Provide resources that allow participants to learn more about the experience. For instance, after talking about the Inca civilization, ask participants to explore the GigPan image of Machu Picchu. Then, go to the Google Earth Machu Picchu Tour.
- Share. Create a place where participants can discuss the topic beyond the scope of the presentation. The Ning website provides a place where teachers can create a social network for their peers or students. It's free to educators. Explore the Technology and School Administration Ning.
- Take Action. After talking about the importance of nutrition, a presenter might recommend writing a grant such as the Scholastic Harvest project.
What type of opportunities best match my audience and need? Select technology-rich tools and resources to promote interaction and collaboration. Do you view the presentation to be the end or the beginning of a larger experience?
- Before. Create a poll using Flisti or ask participants to text their ideas or thoughts going into the presentation.
- During. Set up a backchannel using a tool such as Todaysmeet that can be used for sharing ideas during a presentation. For instance if you're doing a program on book clubs, you could set up a Todaysmeet Bookclubs.
- After. Use Wallwisher to share ideas or complete an activity after a presentation. For example, share your favorite Arthur book.
From elaborate social networks to vivid virtual worlds, tomorrow's presenters will have increasingly sophisticated technologies available for communicating ideas. However the key to an effective presentation will continue to be how these tools are applied to meet the needs of the audience. How will you use technology to make the most of the experience?
Now that you realize the presentations are about content not PowerPoint, explore other tools for creating presentation materials:
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Apple's Keynote
- Open Source