Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, THANK YOU!

14 04 2009

I have been thinking about Pecha-Kucha ever since the masters class presented their various topics. I liked the idea that Pecha-Kucha restricts the number of slides and sets time limits for the duration of each slide.

I sat down and designed my UbD unit plan with the focus on integrating IT in order to allow my ESL Level 2 Communication Skills students the opportunity to strengthen their speech and presentation skills. I decided on the topic “Life” as it is general, yet personal enough for students to approach it independently and from their perspectives. The challenge was for the students to think creatively, outside the box, and use figurative language. 

Once the language learning was out of the way, my students wanted to jump into PowerPoint and start on the slides. Thank goodness, I’ve learnt about storyboarding (have I mentioned this before?). The task was designed to include that students do a draft storyboard of their presentation with detailed and clear annotations (yes, they learnt a new word), which I would look at and give them feedback. Thereafter, they designed the final storyboard with revisions based on my feedback.

So, how did they do it? The task expectation was to design a PowerPoint presentation of 10 slides: title slide (how often don’t they forget titles, hey), 4 slides of images that match their storyboard design (thank you, Stale, for showing us Flickr), 4 slides with their metaphorical statements about life, and the bibliography. The students actually had 30 seconds per slide, because with their language development they are not proficient enough to speak fluently in 20 seconds.

Reflection for my planner: I was very impressed with my students. This was the second presentation they’ve done this year using PowerPoint as a support tool. It was clear that this time the students understood clearly that it was a support tool NOT the presentation. They freed themselves from speaking to the screen (Yay!), because the last presentation was very much a reading from the writing on each slide – usually too much on a slide. What else impressed me? The students had to prepare a script for their presentation. On the morning as the students were sitting down to watch each others’ presentations, I noticed nearly half had the full script clutched in their sweaty grips and my stomach plunged. However, the first 3 students presented without any notes in their hands. The fourth student was a student who had arrived and wanted to have the script in hand for the presentation. However, when she got up, she left her script behind and presented without her script. By the end, all the students had presented without reading from their scripts. I’ve learnt that integrating technology in a very planned manner and breaking up the tasks with clear expectations allow students to develop their individuality, their independence and self-confidence. 

That’s why I thank Dytham and Klein; without their concept of Pecha-Kucha I would have become increasingly resistant to having students use PowerPoint. I have also found that incorporating storyboards really focused the students and they could complete the slides in one 70 minute lesson. Relating it to visuals (pictures) and symbols, helped the students to understand that the visuals can act as cues for their speeches. 

I’m starting to think more and more about integrated technology and its implications for ISM, our curriculum planning and all teachers taking responsibility for technology and language.

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