Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ppt. and Developmental Writers

11/15: This week: a project in which the class develops a presentation for high school seniors and their parents. Although the situation is hypothetical, a college open house, the work isn't, and by next Monday, each duo will present its project to the class. I've been pretty strict about format, insisting that it be coherent rather than varied, and that the students remember that they are presenting on behalf of the college. They'll have ten minutes to present about eight slides' worth of information; moreover, the students may not read off of the slides (as was the case with the last round of group work), but must use them as, well, PowerPoint slides. I'll be taking points away from those who turn their backs to the audience and read the slides out loud.

Here's a summary version of the plans:

Weekend Homework: Brainstorm ideas in each of these categories: What Every Student Should Know About College; What I Wish I'd Known About College; and, What I Like About College. Picking two ideas from each category, draft a speech of no more than two pages.

Monday: Discuss ppt. as the outline, or key points, of their presentation. Students work with a partner and merge ideas: start ppt. draft.

Wednesday: Discuss parallel structure and how it helps structure ppt. information. Students continue to work on presentation, dowloading graphic.

Friday: Prof. H goes over ppt. structure, groups rehearse presentation in order to embellish ppt. with detail and to present to a group rather than read off of the slide.

Tomorrow:Show time.

It's a good exercise in both extracting information and outlining along with drafting a fuller presentation. Moreover, there's practice in categorizing and parallel structure and in using ppt. (as a tool and not as an electronic sheet of paper). Lastly, the presentation must include a works cited page for their graphics: a thumbnail and a URL.

Why am I being conservative about content? Well, two reasons: not every student knows how to use ppt. and would be overwhelmed with the choices; and two, the students are acting as college representatives speaking to prospective students and their parents, so I wanted them to create something intelligible for both generations. In freshman comp or a higher level lit class, I would be far more liberal about creativity, but frankly, I wanted something that was doable within the week.

A final note: this assignment came about after I'd been thinking about the attrition rate in this course, and I wanted to hear from the class what they saw as impediments to adjusting to college. Moreover, I wanted them to begin to reflect on their changes over the semester--on the student level with this assignment, and on the writer level with the next.


At 9:39 AM, Blogger macncheese said...

I like this assignment. I've been incorporating more and more assignments about college experience in my basic writing classes, and I've been looking for ways to incorporate non-essays types of assignments. This assignment seems like it would bring those two objectives together. Thanks for sharing!

At 2:45 AM, Blogger Jane said...

Hi! I haven't posted for ages - but last year I started using PowerPoint as a 'teaching tool' in itself with my ESL students - and I'm still doing so.

I find that the structure virtually forces the students into creating short, powerful expressions of their ideas - and gets rid of the rambling sentences. The ensuing work is always much more focussed - and more fun! My students are presenting their latest tomorrow: it's a 'compare and contrast' structure this time - and they are comparing the ways in which a specific issue (their own choice) has been treated in the media. There are opportunities for video clips and scanned images, as well as some artistic work from the digital photographers who have created tremendous visual works of contrast!

But the main reason for using it is really for structuring ideas: I find it's a great planning medium. This time I have also emphasised the collaborative nature of the presentation - and I've noticed that three students working round a computer find the PowerPoint medium good for resolving conflicting ideas - quick to try out different ones, compare strategies - and move on.

And - they have to use the slides as their backdrop only - no turning round!!

At 3:46 PM, Blogger Deb said...

I really like the ideas here--in the original post and in the comments. I particularly like how your assignments are linking several modes of communication (written, oral, electronic, visual).

I've only occassionally taught developmental writing, but I have two sections of it next quarter. I might be picking your brains about these (and other) assignments, if you don't mind!

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At 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried an oral history assignment with developmental level students?


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