Revisiting old posts: The power of presentation


In my role as Literacy Co-Ordinator I am expected to run a CPD day each year.  In year 1 the focus is on developing Speaking and Listening skills and, in particular, student presentations.  I was keen for this CPD day not to be led by me.  As an English teacher and Literacy Co-ordinator sometimes it can be taxing trying to convince other professionals that literacy isn’t just a problem for the English department.  Therefore, at all opportunities, I have tried to ensure other faculties lead on aspects of literacy.  For my CPD on presentation skills, I asked the Acting Head of Drama, the Head of ICT and a fellow English colleague instead to run the workshops.

There were two objectives for these CPD workshops. 1) To begin to embed key literacy skills across the school 2) To ensure a greater level of consistency when approaching literacy matters.

Workshop 1 – English criteria

In this session, my English colleague guided staff through the English criteria to make them more aware about how we assess students within English.  She demonstrated a poor speaking and listening presentation (modelled aptly by a member of staff).  She then asked staff to mix and match banding, with key words, with key criterion before asking staff to use this to assess another speaking and listening performance.  The purpose was to ensure staff went away with an understanding of what constititues a ‘C’ grade presentation, a ‘B’ grade presentation etc.  She then talked staff through the process of creating cue cards explaining that she only ever issues a maximum of three cue cards to each student so the focus must be on key words. She taught us a good modelling process of having a speech on the board and going through, highlighting key words that can then be reduced down to go on the cue cards. I haven’t ever explicitly modelled this so this will be something I do in the future.

Workshop 2 – Visual aids

Our brilliant Head of ICT led a session on the use of Power Point as a visual aid. Her message was clear – keep it simple. Students can often get carried away trying to make their presentations look beautiful when in fact it is what they say / how they say it that gets them the marks. Consistency across slides was something she emphasised – consistency in font, transition, layout, background to ensure a professional look. She reinforced the need to keep the text to a minimum and to get students to think of alternative ways to present their work – e.g. in chart or graph form. She also showed the less technically aware members of staff how to embed a video into power point.

Workshop 3- Performance

This was the session most were dreading as it was the practical sessions. Our Drama specialist began with a warm up to demonstrate how activities such as tongue twisters and games like ‘I love you’ can help to warm up students’ voices and get them practising their pace. After this she organised us into groups and gave us a speech we were going to have to present to the rest of the class. To aid this further, she issued each of us with our speaking and listening target from the last assessment (projecting voice, pace, use of gesture). (In English the students stick their targets into their planner) and told us of the need to focus in our target. After 5 minutes she asked us to stand in relevant zones (red, white, green) to signify how well we thought we had done in terms of meeting our target. We then had further time to practise our presentations before one group had to present.

After all three workshops had been attended it was up to me to draw some conclusions for staff to help guide them in the planning of a unit culminating in a formal presentaton, dually assessed for content and speaking and listening skills. I presented a number of key questions to staff that I wanted them to consider:

1) How can we embed the explicit teaching of speaking and listening skills (as assessed in English) within our curriculum planning?
2) How can we model the effective use of cue cards as a helpful tool within our SOW?
3) How can we ensure a consistent approach to the use of planning aids?
4) How can we maximise rehearsal time within units to help students improve thier presentations?
5) How can we use personalised targets to develop students’ skill sets?

It was a fantastically productive morning with so many members of staff providing positive feedback today. I can’t wait to see how faculties have incorporated the workshop material into the unit of work they have been asked to create.


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