Most English standards, such as the Common Core Standards stipulate the development of presentation skills. The Common Core “Speaking and Listening” category specifies that students “make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest” (Common Core). How can that translate to a creative and dynamic learning opportunity in the classroom?
Too often, presentations become long paragraphs on a slide that students read off the screen while the rest of the class is falling asleep. To avoid this, we teachers need to get creative! Recently, I had students create Pecha Kucha presentations to practice their skills of presenting ideas in “a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning” while also working on their digital media skills (Common Core).
Pecha Kucha, “20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images” with the purpose of making presentation succinct and to the point (Pecha Kucha). It may seem like 20 seconds is a not enough time to say something substantial but in fact it’s the perfect amount of time to present well-organized ideas, a key skill in the real world.
For my students, I modified the presentation a bit, making it only 12 slides, 4 minutes total. They presented their essays on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which was a comparison to another real-life figure with excessive ambition who eventually failed. First, I had students revise their essays based on the feedback I gave them which ensured they were learning to improve their writing and my hours of grading didn’t go to waste. I also showed them this great Pecha Kucha video another teacher has made about creating a Pecha Kucha.
I posted this template to Google Classroom for students to use to really organize their ideas:
Overall, the presentations went well – students really organized their presentations to be clear, concise and creative. I would modify this assignment for students who have anxiety about presenting since the fast paced timing certainly adds pressure and stress for students who need more support with public speaking.
The whole unit plan, including the assigned essay is available here.