Distance Learning Project Presentations

This week marks week 7 of distance learning due to school shutdowns in response to the COVID19 global pandemic. Normally, about this time, my students would be making formal presentations about their 3-month-long collaborative service learning project (Make a Difference, or MaD) to their classmates, parents, and community members. So guess what they are doing? They are making formal presentations about their 3-month-long collaborative service learning project to their classmates, parents, and community members. While I was planning this activity, I received an email from Deeper Learning about the value of continuing to do presentations, even while we are forced to do schooling virtually; it included this helpful toolkit.

How did we pull this off? Each of my groups (4 or 5 students) has scheduled a 30-minute slot through Google Meets (formerly Hangouts) to do their 20-minute presentation. They have invited 3 people each to create their own audience, and I have invited additional people to attend. The first group went yesterday, and while I realize the most competent students typically volunteer to go first, I was absolutely blown away. Not being able to coach them face-to-face, I had done the best I could with a set of digital directions.

I was struck by how well this particular task demonstrates skills they learned in my class this year. Here is a list. The skills they gained during distance learning are in green.

  • How to carefully read a rubric to create a quality product
  • Graphic Design
    • Using Google Slides as a presentation tool
    • Applying good choices in contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity
    • Importing templates
    • Using different slide layouts
    • Choosing the best font types and sizes
    • Adding different types of content to slides (images, video, sound)
  • Video editing
    • Making a stop motion animation
    • Combining music, movement, and images to convey a message
    • Framing an interview subject professionally
  • Sound editing
    • Recording one’s own voice for a podcast
    • Importing interview footage into a sound editor
    • Combining sound clips
    • Choosing music that helps tell a story
  • Collaboration
    • Dividing up tasks
    • Communicating with teammates through a variety of methods
    • Treating each other with respect
    • Conducting primary research
  • Public speaking
    • Taking turns when presenting with a group
    • Speaking from notes but not reading verbatim
    • Understanding their audience
    • Dressing professionally
    • Researching secondary sources to understand an issue
    • Incorporating powerful stories
  • Video conferencing
    • Making appointments and inviting others (with Google Calendars)
    • Positioning oneself in the frame and choosing appropriate backgrounds
    • Managing cameras and microphones 
    • Minimizing distractions
    • Sharing a screen
    • Using the chat box
    • Creating an agenda and using it to facilitate virtual conversations

The rest of the video conferences are scheduled for the next three days, and I am very much looking forward to them.