Friday, September 18, 2015

Ignite-ing It!

I shared recently how I came to give my first Ignite talk at ISTE this past summer. It was such a valuable process to go through - to reflect on what is really important to say (or not to say), prioritize order of importance, organize information, strategically select images to best 'show' not tell my story, not to mention work on presentation skills.

Since research, speaking and listening skills are such a huge part of what I do in this class, I thought to myself, what better way to target all of these through having my students plan, practice, and give an Ignite talk?  20 slides, 15 seconds each for each of them to tell their story.  I struggled with how to pitch it to my students and kept thinking - how will I get buy-in?  how can I model this for them and help them see the value in it?  I got the aha moment I was seeking last week.

I decided to start off by giving my students the same Ignite talk I gave at ISTE this summer and shared all the challenges and fears that I faced.  At the same time, I handed them the same rubric that I was going to use to evaluate their Ignite talks and let them evaluate me first.  They were thrilled at the prospect of 'grading their teacher' and I am relieved to say that every class applauded for me after my talk.  Maybe it was because they got to see a little bit more about me and the heart I have as a teacher through the talk.

I then shared this document with them - an Ignite planning document to help them organize their thoughts.  The topics they came up with were amazing and creative.  They ranged from 'the best sports plays ever,' to 'the life of a perfectionist.'  One was on 'the science of happiness' and another was on 'the history of Apple.'  Everything from baseball to coding and robotics.  Here's one a student gave on the science of superpowers.

As a reflection to the whole Ignite experience, I had each student create a page to add to their digital portfolios where they uploaded their presentation and script.  They then had to write 5 tips that they would give someone who was giving their first ignite talk.
Here's what one student had to say:

Okay, twenty slides, fifteen seconds to talk for each, GO! Starting an Ignite Talk can be quite nerve racking but with these five easy tips it's sure to be a success. For example lets say you love cooking, you cook everyday, this would probably be a better topic over  Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia (which is the fear of long words). This will make the process much easier and faster.  Second, do your script before your slides, this way you can relate what you talking about directly to the picture you are presenting. Third, when making your script try to make more notes than actual sentences. This will make it easier to memorize and be less tempting to read completely off your paper. Fourth, practice, practice, practice! When you practice your presentation at home you are more likely to stay in sync with your slides and you will seem like you're practically an expert on your topic. The fifth and final tip is be confident in yourself and have fun! With confidence you will speak clearly and loud, which will help your audience to engage in your topic. So remember,
  1. Already know a lot about your topic.
  2. Script before the slides.
  3. Make the script notes, not actual sentences.
  4. Practice.
  5. Be confident and have fun!

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