Project Showcases are one of my favorite events in schools. The showcase is the culmination of a unit where students learn deeply and present their understanding in a variety of interesting and creative ways. Families and community members get to listen, ask questions, encourage, and learn.
I’ve seen hundreds of student presentations over the years, but there are a few presentations that, in my opinion, were extraordinary. The students described below were incredibly knowledgeable but it was the way they presented that made a lasting impression.
Use of Artifacts to Enhance Your Students’ Presentations
- A group of students gathered over a map of Europe at a World War I showcase. Atop the map were army men representing soldiers in each country. The students explained the battle of Somme. As the students described the strategy of the battle, they moved the army men illustrating advancements, milestones, and effects on the larger war. The presentation was understandable and enjoyable.
- During a Roaring ‘20’s showcase a student I observed was standing in front of headshots of influential women from the Harlem Renaissance. The student discussed how these artists conveyed the Black experience and set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement. She used her hand to gesture to each artist. Lastly, she focused on a central figure and shared the positive influence that artist had on her. The student was an effective docent and storyteller.
- Finally, at an under-the sea themed showcase, one student studied bottle-nosed dolphins. He added construction paper fins to a recycled plastic water bottle. He stood in front of a mural of an ocean that the class had painted. The student moved the “water bottle dolphin” to different parts of the mural to explain where the dolphin migrated and how the dolphin used its adaptations to survive.
We all know public speaking is not easy. These simple moves can engage the audience and improve the quality of students’ presentations. Using artifacts, rather than note cards, can boost student confidence and help them become more effective public speakers. Share your project ideas with us!