The Student Becomes The Teacher

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SWBAT create an IGNITE! presentation on a topic related to environmental science.

Big Idea

Students learn more when they have to teach material to others. In this lesson, students will teach using a non-traditional approach.


15 minutes

I start the lesson by showing 2-3 different IGNITE! presentations from the Ignite* website. I try to find presentations that will interest the students, even if they don't necessarily have anything to do with the environment. After showing the presentations, I ask the students to identify what these had in common, as well as what makes them different from other slideshows or presentations they have seen in the past.

* What is Ignite?

Ignite is a geek event in over 100 cities worldwide. At the events Ignite presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.


45 minutes

I pass out copies of the book, The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming. I allow students to work alone or to form groups of two, and to select 2 short articles from the book. (I have students share a copy of the book to ensure they are communicating and collaborating as they work. However, giving individual copies is always an option. I have students choose two passages that go together well, as they will be making one presentation that addresses both. Each passage consists of 2-5 pages, so this is a very "digestible" amount of information. Students work together to read the passages and take notes on key information, using the Cornell notes format I created for them on the Worksheet Works website.

After 1-2 days of reading and note-taking, I have my students work to identify the main points of the articles, as well as the key details which meet any of the following criteria:

  • necessary for understanding
  • interesting or relevant to 6th graders
  • unfamiliar or new information

These will be the focus points of the students' presentations.


5 minutes

Now that students have developed an in-depth understanding of the topic, it is time for them to create an IGNITE! presentation. In order to create the presentation, the students first have to learn the requirements. I use the Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk video to lay out the criteria.

For additional information, you can also visit, or have your students visit, the following sites:


5 minutes

It's time for creation to begin! Because this is the first time students have ever tried a presentation such as this, I like to provide a storyboard template to help get them started. There are a lot of great template options available from Printable Paper, in a variety of formats.

Students use the storyboard to create a sketch of their presentation, including the images they visualize as representing each idea and a rough script to coincide with each image. Once they are finished with their storyboard, they bring it to me for approval.

In order to be approved, the storyboard needs to follow the structure of the presentation, relate directly to the information they read, and have an organizational structure. Once it is approved, students get to use the PowerPoint template (courtesy of Jack Whipple) to create the actual presentation.

The beauty of the template is that it has already been timed to meet the requirements of an IGNITE! presentation. If the storyboard is not approved, students work with me to make revisions before moving on to creating the actual presentation. Don't be tempted to "fix" their presentations for them. Instead use all of those teacher tools - model reading it and then wondering aloud, ask questions like, "Can you tell me more about..." and "Why are you...", have them explain it to a peer and get feedback.


5 minutes

Students present their INGITE!s for the class. I use the Ignite Scoring Rubric to assess the quality of my students' work.