Even though we’re winding down towards the end of the year and it often feels like the students are just biding their time, I’m still trying some new things to mix it up a bit.
My Year 7 students have been studying a unit on Planet Earth, looking at the rocks and minerals, the atmosphere, the water cycle and energy sources. So to give them something meaty to work on, I’ve been getting them to find out about different alternative energy sources like solar, hydroelectric, wind and geothermal. But instead of writing an information report or something fairly generic, I’ve tried to give them something different to do with this information and hopefully they’ll pick up some new tools.
This project combines screencasting with a Pecha Kucha. A Pecha Kucha is a type of presentation (Powerpoint or otherwise) where the presenter has to used a fixed number of slides that go for a fixed length of time, after which they automatically transition to the next slide. For example, 20 slides of 20 seconds each. This forces you to think creatively about what to say, as well as knowing your material cold so that you can present naturally.
However, rather than take up a lot of class time with actual presentations and introduce a lot of anxiety, I’m having the students create screencasts of their presentations instead. One tool I was pushing was present.me, a useful tool I discovered from Terie Engelbrecht at Crazy Teaching – Crazy Thoughts as she is seeking to flip her classroom. I gave it a try and found it to be really easy to use and integrates Powerpoint slides seamlessly with audio or video. I even created my own screencast for my students to show them a) it is easy to use and b) how to use it. Some other tools that they could use are Screencast-o-matic and Screenr, as well as plain old narration in Powerpoint.
So far they’ve really embraced the challenge. The two conditions I set for the Pecha Kucha were:
- 10 slides of 10 seconds each, and
- No words at all on the slides (not even headings) – just images
It’s been interesting to see them struggle to stick within the rules, especially the no words one, but the challenge has been good for them. I wanted to completely avoid the Wikipedia copy-paste exercise and force them to be creative about what to say, especially as they only have 10 seconds per slide. They needed to practise, edit, time themselves and say it aloud to get the timing right. It’s been really great for their presentation skills, and it will be interesting to see the results on Monday when they hand it in.