Media-infused presentations are an easy way to bring a topic to life for students. They can be used as a review for a previously taught subject or to introduce something new. Use them as a virtual field trip to give students a more rich sense of a location of experience than you can give them from simply reading text. They provide extra support for ELL students by creating connections through images, videos, and sound. PowerPoint and Keynote are two easy programs that can be used to create these presentations. If you’d rather house your presentation online, Prezi is another option. One benefit of Prezi is that, being housed online, if you forget your own computer at home or if your battery dies, you can access it from any computer. Additionally, Prezis are live, collaborative documents, allowing for anyone to work on them at any time from anywhere.
These presentations help develop both disciplined and synthesizing minds (Gardner 2008). If you are creating a presentation for your students, you can ensure that students utilize a synthesizing mind by finding images and videos that represent different points of view or experiences. If presented with a task (for example, a written response) after the presentation, students will be required to take that information and evaluate and present it in a way that makes sense to them (p.3). If I were creating my safari presentation for an older grade level, I could have included contrasting videos on conservation versus big-game hunting. Students could determine which viewpoint they agree with and write a persuasive paper. For Kindergarten, our goal is to learn about a new topic and to write an informational piece about said topic. My presentation will be used in conjunction with reading non-fiction texts about safaris (such as this one from National Geographic) as an attempt to work towards a teaching model that supports the new Smarter Balanced assessments.
Student-created presentations help cultivate a disciplined mind as well, by requiring students to look for multiple sources of information on their topic. Spending a “significant amount of time” on a topic is one of the four steps Gardner spells out when developing a disciplined mind (p. 32). Students will spend such time not only searching for videos, images, and sound effects that are relevant to their topic, but also determining which pieces of media best support their assignment or argument. This will also employ the synthesizing mind, as students determine the validity or importance of each media source they find and decide whether or not to include it.
Presentation applications are easy to use these days, using a drag and drop style of adding media to slides. Most applications come with already created themes that teachers and students can use as well, making the process even easier. I used Keynote to create mine because it is the application that I am most comfortable with, however, I plan to use Prezi in the future in order to become more familiar with web-based presentation tools.
You can download a PowerPoint version of my presentation here.
Gardner, H. (2008). 5 Minds for the Future. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.