After having thought critically to create a redesign for a human body system (or developing a board game) and writing all those blogs to demonstrate their growing understanding, the students are ready to show off.
It usually takes us two days to get through all presentations. I try to schedule them on a Monday and Tuesday so that the students have a weekend to go over anything they might need. This sometimes means that projects are due mid-week and presentations do not happen until the next week. If this is the case, I make it clear to the students that no more class time will be provided to work on the project, but they are welcome to keep practicing their presentations or add to them on their own time.
Whenever possible, I also invite parents, administrators and other teachers into the room to hear the students. I do tell the students beforehand that there is a possibility of "other grown-ups" in the room, which increases the stress level of presentation day, but encourages students to really polish their presentations.
Presentation day is also tied into the standards, as the students communicate their products clearly and persuasively (SP8), present their claims in a coherent manner and use appropriate eye contact, volume and clear pronunciation (SL.7.4), and include multimedia components to clarify information (SL.7.5).
On the first presentation day, I post a piece of chart paper for "Presentation sign-ups". This is a numbered list with as many numbers as presenters. I ask one member of each team to head over and write their name. This determines the order in which they present, and keeps moving things along since everyone know "who goes next".
If there are any other adults in the room, I introduce them and thank them for participating. I explain to the room that after each presentation, there will be a 2 minute Q&A, followed by 2 minutes for everyone (yes, including the adults) to write I like - I wonder feedback, and provide small stacks of half-sheets for each table.
The trick during presentation days is to pay close attention to the clock and keep things moving. After a presentation there might be more questions that can be answered in 2 minutes. I encourage the participants to seek out the presenters and ask any unanswered question after the lesson so as not have a Q&A take up too much time.
This video includes three of the redesign presentations (immune at 0:00, muscular at 1:34, respiratory at 4:50), as well as the presentation for one board game at 8:55. Although there is still work to be done on presentation skills, students were able to get their ideas across, and because of the nature of the project, the class was engaged. I am also including the accompanying essays which tend to be more descriptive (Immune System Redesign, Muscular System Redesign, Respiratory System Redesign).
Life-long learners reflect on their learning and how previous work can be applied to future experiences. Reflective learners stand back from what was done, analyze the experience to determine strengths and weaknesses and develop insights that go beyond a specific project or learning opportunity. With that in mind, and using the scheme that the students manage weekly in their blogs (see Enter the Blog), I have each student write a blog post where he/she reflects the project.
In this case, I ask the students to provide answers to:
I explain why I changed the reflections and what I plan to do with them in my own reflection.