Presentation Zen in Middle School

While I was away, a lot of the things I usually worry about were no longer under my control. I had to pass off responsibilities and trust that everything would be okay*. One of these things was a middle school assembly. As student council advisor, I am in charge of making sure our monthly assemblies run without a hitch. The students coordinate with teachers and students who want to present and organize a slideshow that shows the running order of the assembly. And while the students are in charge of making sure that everything is done, I am always hovering, making sure that everything is perfect on the day. This hovering was impossible from Cambodia. So I turned it over to middle school student body president and hoped it all worked out.

I came back from Cambodia and this is the slideshow they created.

I nearly cried with joy. The slides (with a few exceptions) were exactly what I would expect if I was there to nag advise. Not every slide is Presentation Zen, but it’s as “zen” as a middle schooler is going to get. There was not a flame or an insane transition between slides in sight. There was not a single bullet point. The images are Creative Commons images. The images are cited! Just thinking about it makes me warm and fuzzy inside. And they did it all without me. It took months of modeling and nagging reminding and talking about why neon green and orange isn’t the best combination, but they were able to do it on their own.

Perhaps this is just a post to tell other teachers “stick with it”. Keep expecting students to use Creative Commons images. Have a common expectations at school. The section on Oxfam in the slideshow was created by Alex’s tutor group and it also looks great. Alex co-teaches middle school humanities with me and I know that every kid in middle school knows what is required of a presentation. This helps a lot. They will get it. Just have faith. And persistence. You will be rewarded with a presentation that is worth watching.

About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
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4 Responses to Presentation Zen in Middle School

  1. Jamie says:

    Wow, Rebekah…a great presentation. The color, balance, and interesting graphics combine beautifully to make an outstanding presentation. You’ve taught them well! My students are required to present an oral book review several times each semester. Most of them choose to create a PowerPoint even though it is not a requirement. Each time, we review how to create effective slides and we discuss balance, color, text, etc. For my students, the biggest challenge is reducing the amount of text in their slides. I’m still trying to get them to understand that, if the audience can read the slide and get the information, then too much text has been included. Many of them use the text as a safety net for their presentation. They feel more comfortable when the words are there to guide them through. It’s encouraging to see your students’ presentation and I’ll share it with mine as a great example. Thanks so much for including it in your post. Here’s a great article regarding the 5 worst mistakes in PowerPoint presentations. I will use this with my students as well!

    I’m the Student Service Leadership Team advisor and I was intrigued to see that your group is supporting OXFAM. Our 6th grade recently participated in OXFAM’s Hunger Banquet to raise world hunger awareness and kick off our annual fundraiser. The monthly assemblies sound amazing! Kudos to your students for assuming the ownership of planning and conducting these important gatherings. I’d like to talk to you more about your group’s responsibilities, efforts and initiatives. Thank you for your post!

  2. Woohoo! Thank you (and Alex) for prioritizing these skills in your classes and activities. It’s such a pleasure to see students independently demonstrating their understanding of design principals and copyright, and especially because I had nothing to do with it! Well done Humanities team!

  3. Pingback: A teacher learning from her student leaders | Rebekah Madrid

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