Current Events Presentations: I Loved Them!
This week in class, my students have been doing a current events presentation project. To be honest, I had pretty low expectations but my students have gone above and beyond to produce some awesome presentations. Now, I know that I had very little to do with this awesomeness, but I couldn’t help but feel really proud of them.
How I Set Up this Current Events Presentation Project:
Class: 3rd and 4th year English major students at a big, private university in Busan, South Korea. The level of the students ranges from low-intermediate to low-advanced.
Group Size: Student choice. From 1-5. I always hated group projects in university, so I always like to give students an option to work alone. About 1/2 the students did it by themselves, while the others mostly went in pairs.
Length of Presentation: 1.5-2 minutes/person in group.
Visuals: 1 PowerPoint slide/person in group. 15 words/slide maximum. I wanted the focus to be on the speaking and not on an impressive PPT.
Task: Choose something in the news lately. In Korea, or around the world. Talk about three things: explain the news story, talk about why it’s important, give your opinion about it.
Grading: Out of 15 points. Explain story = 3. Why important = 3. Opinion = 3. PPT slides = 2. Overall impression = 4 (eye contact, voice, looking friendly, posture). We spent about a 1/2 hour in class practicing things like how loud to speak, how to stand, making eye contact, etc.
Speech set-up: Students had to memorize their speeches. While they could bring their paper to the front with them, they had to keep it in their pocket to use only in case of emergency. Most students didn’t need it. I said that I wouldn’t penalize them for looking at it once.
Why were these Presentations so Awesome?
I think the awesomeness of the presentation project is related to a few different things, including the following:
Length of Time: Shorter is better! 1.5-2 minutes is a nice length. Students can say what they want to say but it keeps things fresh for the audience.
No Forced Group Work: You like alone, go alone. You like group work, go in a group. I like to give students choice.
No Death by PowerPoint: Limiting each person to only one slide with basically no words led to lots of interesting pictures. It also helped students focus on making eye contact with the audience instead of just looking at the screen.
No Reading: Is there any worse thing to do in a presentation than to read? I don’t think so. I always make my students memorize their presentations and I find it goes much more smoothly.
Free Topic Choice: The topic choice was so wide open. “Anything in the news lately.” Students chose stuff they were actually interested in and surprisingly, nobody chose the same one.
Not just Me Blathering Away: I’m sure my students are weary of me blathering away at them each day by this point in the semester! I think it was a nice break for them, as well as me.
Need Some More Awesome?
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