After several days of hard work and much discussion, the students are ready to show off.
The student work is evaluated using the rubric and that the students have been using all along to monitor progress.
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 sign up. This determines the order in which they present, and keeps moving things along since everyone knows "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 writing time. During the writing time, presenting students remain at the front of the room, available to answer questions; audience students must write in response to the following three questions:
Note to teachers: I have summarized the student's work in a document, which must be downloaded to have access to the links to all the student work. When you visit the student work, notice the different tools used to present the recovery plans. This speaks to the students familiarity with multiple tools and the ability to select what they think will best convey their ideas.
The trick during presentation days is to pay close attention to the clock and keep things moving. If there are still gaps in the student notes after the writing time, I encourage the participants to seek out the presenters and ask any unanswered question.
We conclude presentations on the second day.
In this video I have included some presentation highlights. Watch towards the end when the student realizes that he was too quick to answer the question being posed.
After all students have presented, I have students read over their responses to the three questions posed during presentations. I tell them that as they are reading what they wrote, they should think about which team/species should be highlighted as most critical or interesting to save. They should also consider if the recovery plan was realistic enough to be able to be carried out (SP8: Evaluate the validity of the findings of others). Once they have chosen their "new" species, they navigate to that team's infographic to learn more about the species in question.
I tell the students that their final assignment is to write a one to two paragraph response to, "Why should we save the _____?" (W.7.10, SP6: Constructing explanations and designing solutions). In their response they must have at least one piece of evidence cited directly from the infographic created by that team (SP7: Engage in argument from evidence). This is their final vote.
Note to teachers: Students usually ask why they cannot vote for their own species. My response is that I/we already know where they stand regarding that species. After all, they have spent two weeks working with it. This is an opportunity to view a perspective different than their own, and learn from one another.
The responses to this assignment only included the Axolotl and the Blobfish, and for the most part mentioned. The axolotl was seen as beneficial for the research into regenerating limbs, while the blobfish captured their imaginations for being "ugly" as well as because so little is known about it.
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 work that was done during the project. This reflection happens as soon as possible after presentation day so that ideas and thoughts about the experience are still fresh in the minds of students. Here are links to some of the student reflections. Notice the self-talk about improving presentation skills.