The last two class periods we have devoted to working on a multimedia argumentative project. Today's class period will be the culmination of that process, as students should arrive with final drafts for peer revisions and will be recording their audio before next class period!
To start off today, I will address some lingering issues I continue to see in students' work as I've been checking in with their presentations through Google Drive. While we discuss these issues, students will follow along on the Final Checkpoints for Argumentative Presentation (attached in the resources) and add notes with Google comments if desired, by adding comments to their existing Google Presentation, or by changing really minor errors as we move through the list. All of the topics we will discuss today have been discussed previously, but they are also key features that students will need to be familiar with for our upcoming research paper. Fixing these errors now will mean less headaches later, so I really want to pummel these things home to change student practice!
Issue #1: Claim & Counterclaim Refinement
We will start off this discussion reading through and discussing the correlating section of the handout. After reviewing the sample claim/counterclaim sets, I will ask students to generate a few claim/counterclaim sets to ensure they can apply the idea with their own writing.
Issue #2: Avoiding 1st & 2nd Person
I will summarize the second section of the handout, and we will discuss how the example makes them as readers feel and the detrimental effect it could have on an argument. Students are typically quick to point out that the example makes the arguer lack credibility of what is going on with their audience, which is very off-putting. Next, students will be given 3-5 minutes to begin reviewing their own presentations to ensure that no first or second person pronouns are used.
Issue #3: In-Text Citations & Works Cited Slide
While students have had plenty of experience citing information and creating citations, they continue to struggle with citations, particularly in-text citations. I will remind students that all information that is not their own or common knowledge for their audience of high school peers must be cited using MLA formatted-parenthetical citations. I will reiterate that this holds true for direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries, and that it is their responsibility to thoroughly check their work to ensure that this is true in every case. We will review the plagiarism policy before looking at the information on the handout directing students to resources.
To save questions later (which I will undoubtedly still get, but at least I could lessen!), I will give students a brief tour of the site's In-Text Citations page and Citation Formatting page about books, periodicals, electronic sources, and "other common sources" tabs, which show sample citation formats. The Common Core requires student proficiency with research tasks, so I want to encourage students to be capable independent learners to find citation formats with this site. I do not require students to memorize common citation formats, as I still look at the OWL at Purdue for reference despite a B.A. in English and M.A. in Educational Leadership, but they MUST know how to independently ascertain and navigate this information to produce correct citations.
Issue #3: Working 6x6 Formatting with Syntax & Parallelism Adjustments
Our final talking point today is the 6x6 formatting requirement for slides, which means that each slide can contain no more than 6 lines with a maximum of 6 words in each line (not including citations). This requirement may through a wrench in some students' slideshows, but I do wait until now to explain the requirement fully in order to avoid students choosing random words to write down on each slide. By waiting until now, students have their main ideas written on each slide already and can thoughtfully select and narrow those ideas to more adequately express their message. After explaining the adjustment to formatting, we will use the handout to discover and apply ways of transforming the presentations to fit this guideline. To illustrate this process, we will use 2-3 sample slides that students volunteer to convert to the 6x6 Rule.
A final note I want to point out to students is regarding the overall purpose of the presentation, which will act like a visual aid for their oral narration of the argument. The Common Core requires students to effectively design and use various mediums to supplement their arguments, so taking a few moments to ensure their understanding of this project as a visual element is important. Most students are familiar with making slideshows, but unfortunately, many of those same students have been trained into making them "pretty" rather than functional. Useless slide transitions, frilly and hard-to-read font, and irrelevant images, in addition to the superfluous text we try to avoid using the 6x6 rule are all habits that must be broken if they aren't already.
After students have had time to note (and start changing the features from this morning's discussion), we will review the rubric for grading and how points are assigned. The rubric that I chose to evaluate this project is included in the resources. Once students have had time to understand how the rubric works, they will be given time to work in pairs to evaluate a peer's presentation using a copy of the rubric (downloaded from my website through Google Docs) and the directions included in the resources. Both a written peer evaluation (via rubric) and an edited presentation (using "Comments" feature in Google Slideshow) will be required for the peer review. As students are pairing up and beginning work on this project, I will roam around the room to ensure that all students have partnered up. In the case of an odd number of students, I will designate one "triad" group to evaluate presentations. If students have only a partial presentation completed (or even no presentation at all), they will still be responsible for having their presentation evaluated (perhaps with a "0" awarded) and evaluating a peer's presentation. Completing the peer review process helps students to produce better, more complete projects of their own, so this process is really valuable.
To help students take this peer evaluation more seriously, I will remind them that they are using the same rubric that I will be using to grade their final work. I will try to counter the student-habit of just checking random point values to complete the project by explaining that they are serving as their partner's "last defense" of a poor grade on the project, since they have the ability to catch errors that will be marked down by me.
After students have gotten a start on their peer evaluations, I will lead students in setting up myBrainshark accounts, uploading their presentation, and recording audio (just a sentence or so to ensure the device records properly). Although they obviously haven't finished their perfect presentations yet, I want to ensure that EVERY student knows how to submit and record their presentations. I will attach the video below to my website in case students need refreshers on the process, but it will be required that EVERY student complete this activity with me as I model it.
Another benefit of completing this activity (and a good learning point that I will point out to students) is that if there is an issue with uploading the presentation or the software on the computer, it's MUCH better to know now instead of 5 minutes before the deadline! I will not excuse any students from this part of the assignment due to technical issues, but I will make a point to review alternate ways to record the presentation (using another computer or a telephone to record the audio with any telephone) in case unexpected recording trouble occurs. Part of life is problem-solving, so I want to be very upfront with them that they need to make wise decisions and plan ahead to ensure the submission of the project with no hitches.
Once students are done testing their audio-recording capabilities, they will be instructed to resume their peer reviews. I will work with students on individual computer settings where possible in the event that any students are unable to record audio from their device.
Before students leave, I will remind them that it is their responsibility to troubleshoot the submission of this project and NOT to wait until the last minute. I will also remind them that I am available for help if they plan in advance (and not the eleventh-hour 11pm on the night before it's due kind of "help me" emails). To get this information out to parents as well, I will also add a posting (captured in the screencap below) to my "Daily Recaps," which is a section of my school website which parents and students read to keep updated on what is going on in class.
Additionally, students will be informed that they should also study for a quiz over the "Elements of Argument Terms to Know" notes that we discussed at the start of the mini-unit and applied throughout the project!