COETAIL – Course 4 Week 4

My school recently held their 2012 PYP exhibition.  For those who are not affiliated with the PYPin any way, The Exhibition is the showcase event of the PYP.  Teachers decide on the Transdisciplinary Theme (In this case Sharing The Planet), students select something they are interested in, find another who is interested in the same issue, together formulate a Central Idea, devise Guiding Questions and investigate.   Our school, like most international schools, has a transient student population meaning that most students have not been in a PYP framework school for their entire student careers.  Few have been there since 4 year old kindergarten.

This year’s was held in our school gym for the first time.  All teachers were invited however only a few attended.  I think due to the starting time of 545pm.  Nevertheless as I had taught some of these students in Grade 3, I really wanted to support them.  Also, as I will be teaching G5 in August, I felt it pertinent to be there.
The students presented their investigations in groups of three in separate parts of the gym.  These were separated by the children’s displays which reduced the noise level of other presentations happening simultaneously.

The children began by giving an oral presentation of their issue.  They integrated technology into their presentations.  They used Keynote, Prezi, iMovie, Google, Go-Animate, Garage Band, Kid Pix, Skype interviews, Google Apps (Including Forms) and other word processing tools.  The students used media projectors and MacBooks as a medium.   

While I certainly admit that our school’s technology may be considered tired or even dated,  how the students students used it, and connected others with it, was truly amazing.  Surveys were completed, Skype interviews recorded, documents were shared and animation was created.  After the exhibition, I found myself taking tremendous pride not only in the G5 students, but also in my school for facilitating, guiding and inspiring the students to create such wonderful presentations.


After the exhibition  I tweeted how cool it was to see Garr Reynolds at the event.  I had to introduce myself and he seemed like a pleasant chap.  For those unfamiliar with Garr check out his web site –  Presentation Zen.  Which also is the title of his book.   (Garr came in a few weeks back to speak to the Grade 5’s and the Middle School about effective presentations.  unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend but whatever he said, it must have stuck.)

At the beginning of the book, and forgive me if I get this wrong as my copy is at home whilst I am at work, he recalls a time when he was travelling on the bullet train and, looking across the aisle, he spied  a Japanese businessman.  Garr noticed two things; 1. the Powerpoint presentation print outs that were covered in text and; 2 the man’s obento box  Garr sympathized with the man wondering how anyone could sit through a presentation with that much text and someone, most likely, reading it to them  (Death By Powerpoint?). He thought about how there must be a better way to engage and connect with your audience than having paragraphs of text in a presentation.  Garr thought about the man’s obento box (see pic above).  Beautifully prepared, enticing, engaging, visually pleasing.  Why shouldn’t presentations be the same?

Anyway, the students presentations were phenomenal.  Absolute minimum of text, visually appealing (or provoking) imagery, coupled with passionate speeches.  Their emotions were evident and their belief in their issue was unquestionable.  They were prepared.  They knew exactly what they were talking about and it showed.
Next year I will be teaching Grade 5 and sincerely hope that Garr Reynolds can spare an hour of his time to come in for a session with my class.  It would be well worth it!

2 thoughts on “COETAIL – Course 4 Week 4

  1. Isn’t it great to see what kids can do. It’s my favorite thing about Exhibition…kids are in control of what they present and how they do it. Thanks for sharing how it went at TIS!

  2. Hi Travis – We are on the verge of course 5 and the start another school year. I hope you are settling into grade 5 well and enjoying working with slightly older students. I agree with you completely that last year’s grade 5s were exposed to Garr’s work and have learned the valuable lesson of keeping it simple, making sure everything is necessary and adds value, along with going in highly prepared. I can think of few (if any) situations where these principles don’t hold true. Thinking it through further, I see this as a theme for myself this year. Last year some of my tech integration featured the full power of linking various technologies together such as, diigo annotations and twitter, for instance, during an emergency lesson for that typhoon day. While I loved feeling like we were pushing the envelope a bit, not everyone in my class could keep up with the functions various tools had to offer. This year, I’m more inclined to isolate what is necessary and keep it streamlined and effective. I look forward to seeing you on the weekend. – Adam

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