My middle school students are creating organism presentations. How much scaffolding should I give them?
— P., New York
Students take more interest and greater ownership when they come up with project ideas themselves and teachers provide, as you realize, a scaffold. I have found this guidance results in higher quality presentations and a better learning experience.
First, make sure to specify what must be included in the presentations and share your grading rubric. I would implement benchmarks with deadlines for completing research, presenting a storyboard, and other milestones. Make sure to set a time limit for the presentations.
Take the time to teach them how to use presentation software or applications. Remind them that they are the presenters, not the slides, so they should:
- Limit the amount of text on any slide— just a few points in large, easy-to-read fonts.
- Not simply read the slides— face the audience and refer to notes as they elaborate on the points. Most programs allow the creation of a presenter’s version.
- Use clear, large graphics that everyone can see.
- Draft scripts and rehearse presentations.
If your students are making posters, consider going electronic. Have the students make the text and pictures all fit on one slide. Instead of printing large posters, they can share PDFs on a shared drive and maybe include peer evaluations. Electronic posters are also easier to grade than a large pile of paper!
There are many rubrics out there for assessment of posters and presentations that can help you with grading.
Hope this helps!
Graphic credit: FriendlyStock (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons