I’ve had many failures this year (which I will be outlining in some near future posts, I promise), but one message I definitely seemed to get across to my students was that I am done with ho-hum slide presentations that make everyone yawn. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the awesome presentation that some of my 4th graders did recently. This past week, we had some great ones from my 5th graders.
My consistent theme this year, when it comes to Genius Hour presentations, has been The Golden Rule. If you wouldn’t want people standing in front of you for 20 minutes reading slides to you in a monotone, then why on earth would you subject your classmates to the same torture? I haven’t outlawed slide shows, but I’ve shown the students that they are ineffective unless you are a passionate speaker with engaging slides. After I gave them a peek at 101 Ways to Show What You Know, things got a lot more interesting.
One of my 5th graders has been researching her family tree during Genius Hour, as she had discovered that she was descended from Grover Cleveland. I have to admit that I was pretty worried about how this presentation would go over. How would she find a way to make her personal family tree interesting to the rest of the class? I gave her some suggestions, but she had her own idea. She made an actual tree, and put velcro on it. Then she printed out the names of her ancestors, adding velcro to the back. She divided the class into teams. When it was a team’s turn, they picked a name out of the bag. She gave them a clue, and they had to “pin the name on the tree” in the correct spot to get a point. Total engagement.
The next presentation came from a pair of boys. They have been working on learning how to do stop motion animation. From the beginning, I had been reminding them that creating a video wouldn’t be enough. The class was going to need to learn something from their presentation. Of course, they could have created a video that taught something. But that wasn’t what they wanted to do 😉 When I think about all of the steps these boys went through for their project, I am blown away.
First, they taught themselves how to use the Lego Movie app. When they couldn’t add their own voices to that, though, they taught themselves how to use iMovie. They researched the history of Lego and of stop motion film. They wrote facts on the backs of small pieces of paper. Then they made short videos to give clues on how to find the small pieces of paper which were hidden all over the school. They used the Aurasma app to link the clue videos to drawings they made (all of the drawings were related to their stop motion video). The class was divided into teams of 3. Each team had identifying drawings taped to their table (again – characters from their video). Each team had three different clues that led to three different facts. When the activity started, the teams would scan their first clue with Aurasma, two students from the team would go find the fact based on the clue video, and the third student would stay in the classroom to watch the stop motion video. After the students returned, the boys used the Game Show app on the iPads to quiz the teams on the facts they learned. Then, another round would begin. This went on until every student had a chance to see the video and go looking for facts.
Did I mention – complete engagement and learning?!!!
Yep, this is a lot better than a slideshow…
For more information on Genius Hour, check out my Genius Hour Resources page here.