I decided to make changes to my presentation for my unit on Rat Trap Vehicles. I use Google Slides to guide my classes in each lesson of my unit. I teach the same lesson to all five of each grade level classes. So in this case I use the Rat Trap Vehicles presentation 5 times for each of the Grade 4 classes that I teach. The Google Presentation also helps me to make sure that my message is consistent to each of my classes. Perhaps this is not the best use for a slideshow?
Full disclosure: I have to redo this one anyway. I have decided to move away from rat traps as the “engine” for this project and use mousetraps instead. They are a lot less dangerous to use. I have more experience using mousetraps for this type of project (my predecessor used the rattraps and I was just continuing what he had been doing). So the use of the term Rattrap instead of mousetrap will be confusing to my students.The presentation is also mostly incomplete so this is a good presentation to fix up. So long story short this is a useful assignment for me that is going to add value to my unit. What you see below is the original presentation that introduces the unit.
This is an interesting assignment for me because when I prepare a presentation part of what I am doing is making sure that each class gets the same message. Because of this I often use way too much text in my presentations. I often end up reading it to the class. Why do they need me if they could just read it themselves? In Project Zen Matt Helmke suggests the use of a leave behind document. I usually embed my presentations in my blog so that students can refer to them later but I am not sure that very many of them do. I could easily create a “leave behind document”… in this case a Google Doc that I could share with them through Teacher Dashboard. This much more detailed document would be more appropriate for this purpose. In our Unit on Lego Robotics the Grade 4’s have made use of a document that I created to guide their learning so this will be nothing new to them. Another chance to put good ideas into practice.
In his Ted Talk Garr Reynolds emphasises the use of storytelling as a technique for an effective presentation. This is where I am feeling a little bit of struggle. I don’t really see myself as telling a story when I make a presentation like this to the class. I do see how telling a story or turning my design brief into a story could be a great hook or inspire some great thinking in my classes. This will definitely be a work in progress. I will say that as I added images to my slideshow I could feel a story coming together. I am not sure what the story is. It just seems to me to be more of a story that my students can get behind and definitely make their own. Perhaps this is what he is talking about when he says that you have to think of your audience first and make them care. The images I have chosen should engage my students into really imagining what they want their vehicles to be. Instead of telling them what they should look like I am letting them imagine it themselves. I have also cut away the non-essential elements of the previous presentation. The newer version is cleaner and I believe much, much more interesting and engaging. Now it is time to field test the presentation to see if it really is Zen enough for my kids!