Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Purring along

Today in class was the culmination of a series of terrific events.  Students have been working on short presentations.  The only requirements have been that presentations must not use paper and must be no longer than three minutes.  Early presentations were almost exclusively Powerpoints.  After each presentation, the class gave the group feedback about one improvement they might make and one part that worked well.  Kids were then regrouped for the next presentation.  Something amazing began to happen midway through the second presentation.  Creativity began to take over.  Skits began to appear.  Some kids used interviews to convey information.  This week, things really took off.

Kids are given almost no class time to prepare presentations.  I invite them to collaborate at home via the tool of their choice such as Skype, texting , or e-mail.  Then, I give them ten minutes at the beginning of class to polish, edit, and practice.  Today, a couple of groups showed websites created using weebly.  Another couple of groups began using YouTube videos (one worked, one didn't.  Life in the seventh grade!)  A couple of groups used Keynote instead of Powerpoint.  One group used Google Docs.  One group used OpenOffice Impress. Hardware included a Samsung netbook, Lenovo ThinkPad, Apple MacBook Pro (new and old,) and an iPad.  Presentations became about content and presentation style, not hardware or software.  Tools were used interchangeably.  Kids had no problem switching between or using the tools.  Research and data presentation became more important than which tool a particular group was using.  It was cool!

One tool that I added that helped all of the presentations was a KVM box.  Having two projector connections sped up time between presentations because 2 groups could set up at once.  Then, with the push of a button, kids could switch between two sources.  Turns out my IT department had a bunch of KVM boxes and cables left over from a server upgrade.  Presentations have never been so much fun.  Kids improved their skills on so many levels in so many ways.  Very exciting!

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