Student Presentation Skills Learning

Powerpoint Woes Again

The hurricane research assignment came with a "presentation of your chosen storm" component. The class is mostly senior students with a few juniors.

The objective of the presentation is to present an historic, major storm to the class and to practice presentation skills. Students, in teams of two, had four class days to complete this work and were initially confused about why they needed three products to support their talk. I endlessly explained that different preparations have different functions (I used different words, though). First, every student chose PowerPoint as their digital medium, even though I know they have used PhotoStory and digital cartoons before and the assignment included a link to a page of choices. [Question to self: should I force them to try something different for another project? Would that serve them?] 

Second, it took two days for the students to understand that they were not to put paragraphs of text on the PowerPoints. As I walked the computer tables I would see text-dense pages and tell them, "Take that off and put it on your handout" or "Reduce that paragraph to no more than six words."  The doubling up on the disparate objectives -- hurricane research and presentation skills --  significantly increased my work as I patrolled and guided. [Question to self: how should the rubrics be changed, if at all?] I realized that I have not sufficiently modeled "good" PowerPoints as this is my first year teaching oceanography and most of my lecture notes slides are stolen from others. [Note to self: make your own lectures, if you are assigned same course for next year.]

THEN came the complaints about Why A Poster, Too? and my redundant refrain was that the poster is to "advertise" the talk, and would be placed in the hallway for people who could not attend the talk. The poster, I explained, should have both pictures and words.

I kept reminding the students that the bulk of the words should be on a handout so the students could follow along. They kept asking why? why? why? and I felt comfortable with my response that
The PowerPoint is a visual going on behind you and supporting your words with pictures and the handout is so they do not have to take notes but can follow along. You are not to read off the slides. You must practice your talk before giving it, so you can check your timing and slide usage. 
I hoped that I was clear. *sigh*  Sometimes I feel that the children have me in a hurricane!

Hurricane Ike, from the International Space Station

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