EDU 625: HOW can we EXPECT our students to change, if we are not willing to? The Power of Presentations

How many times have you been in a presentation at school or at work and you have found yourself looking just like the kids in the picture?

I’d venture to guess at one point in time, we have all felt and looked this way during a presentation. But why? Why do we end up getting like this? Is the material boring? Is the presenter/teacher just running off facts that we really don’t care about? What is missing from the presentation equation?

One of the main issues that educators face today is creating more engaging lessons to get students to understand, comprehend, and be successful. Arends (2009) writes, “Some educators have argued that teachers devote too much time to talking, and over the years, considerable effort has gone into creating models aimed at decreasing the amount of teacher talk and making instruction more student-centered” (p. 260).

As I stated in last week’s blog, one of my philosophies of teaching is, “If I’m bored teaching it, you’re (my students) going to be bored learning it.” The same thing goes for presentations. There are times where I feel like I might talk too much and then there are times where I do not think I talk enough. Prior to this unit, my view on presentations was that presentations were the meat and potatoes of any major unit with lots of vocabulary and concepts that needed to be learned. However, my philosophy has completely changed on what a presentation really is.

One of the main ideas that is part of my philosophy when teaching in general and when using presentations is ENTHUSIASM. Waldo Emerson once said, “Nothing was ever achieved without enthusiasm”. Arends (2009) writes, “Many teachers, particularly those in secondary schools and colleges, argue that the key to effective presentation is for the presenter to use techniques and strategies borrowed from the performing arts” (p. 281). I feel that in general, no matter what grade you are teaching, you need to put on a show for your students in order to grab their attention and maintain that attention. It is important to remember, however, that too much enthusiasm can be detrimental to the learning process because if you are too enthusiastic, students will be too focused on the fact that you are probably freaking them out, rather than learning and mastering the objectives.

What are your thoughts? Is there ever too much enthusiasm in a classroom, especially when giving a presentation?

I think there is a similarity between passion and enthusiasm. When I use a presentation as a learning activity for my students, if it is a super dry and boring presentation, I exude passion and enthusiasm. I get my students involved in the content, asking them questions about what they think, their experiences, etcetera. I also provide my students with real-life examples that they can apply to their current situations.

For example, my first year teaching middle school, I was teaching my 7th Grade students about cross-contamination and the reasons why it’s so important for us to be aware of cross-contamination. The objectives were met, I dismissed the class, and we all went on. A week later I went up to the cafeteria to pick up my 2nd grade students that I had to take out to recess and 3 of my 7th Grade students came running up to me in a panic. “MISS GURGA! MISS GURGA! YOU HAVE to say something to the cafeteria ladies! They used the same spoon for the carrots that they used for the other food! You need to talk to them about cross contamination! We’re not eating that!” Some people might say I created little Food Safety monsters, some people might say I was creating trouble, but ultimately, I was doing what I love to do and get paid to do….educate children. The presentation that I admit was dry and boring, came to life for my students because of my teaching strategies that I used that got them involved and got them thinking.

This week’s learning challenge proved to be difficult but very rewarding. The objective of the learning challenge was to create a presentation- based learning activity using one of our new resources while creating something that was more engaging. I can create a PowerPoint presentation with my eyes closed so at the beginning I was excited but nervous to see what I could come up with. For my learning challenge, I chose to use the site PowToon. I took a 6th Grade PowerPoint Presentation that I normally do with my 6th Graders and re-created it using PowToon and I am VERY happy with the results and am excited to use it in my class in the Fall. Thanks to my classmates, they informed me that I can increase the length in between transitions (now I just have to figure it out). Watch the 7 Facts About Kitchen Hazards HERE:

Overall, presentations can be more creative and more interactive than we are making them out to be. Are we going to continue to using our old ways of presenting or are we going to step up to the plate and make our presentations more engaging for our students?

Watch this video below and think about this question- How can we expect our students to change if we are not willing to? Now make your decision.

References

Arends, R. I. (2009). Learning to Teach. (8th ed.). London: Mcgraw-Hill Higher Education.

Osakabeavers04. (2013). Presentation tips for teachers (Never give a boring lecture again) TEDxOsaka [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdtLELVhEQg

 

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