This could be my worst blog title so far…
I realized when thinking about presentations I’ve done in the past, that I haven’t really done many ‘presentations’, so to speak. I rarely use slides of any kind in class, but when I do they are more for information delivery (replacements for whiteboards or chalkboards) as opposed to a true presentation, where I’m delivering a message to an audience with support by minimally decorated slides. The ones I do use are mostly ‘borrowed’ from previous co-workers and are taking up a lot of needless space on my hard drive.
However, when I think back on presentations I’ve attended or watched online, the concepts of Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning stand out as memorable qualities, which are described in the article written by Garr Reynolds. This got me thinking, though. How often is it really appropriate to deliver such presentations to students – where there is nothing of substance on the slides we are showing and we provide handouts with all the textual information they need?
Maybe it’s a tough question for me personally because it’s not one of the methods I commonly use, but that could be exactly why it’s a great question to think about. If we are to ‘sell’ our subject matter (as I remember my first Supervising Teacher telling me during teacher’s college), maybe this method of content delivery is much more significant than I had once thought. Then again, maybe I see it more as a form of ‘lecture’, just with a big projector screen instead of a chalkboard – and too teacher-centric for my current tastes in methodologies.
Anyway, enough philosophy. The next unit in Chemistry this year will deal with the structure of the atom and the scientists, experiments and discoveries involved that shaped the atomic model over time. This is always a tricky topic as you don’t know how much detail to get into with the older models that are long since improved upon. On the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to highlight the scientific method and demonstrate how new evidence either supports or rejects the models and theories of the time.
This could potentially be a good candidate for a certain type of Zen Presentation (or ‘ZENtation, as I say — and no you can’t use this term, it’s all mine). In order to ‘sell’ your subject and content, you need a good story. While the story of the history of the atomic model is awesome in itself, it may require a little more meat and potatoes for 14 year olds.
I think it would be pretty awesome to produce videos like Hank Green. His Crash Course YouTube series is amazingly well done, likely because he has a whole graphic design team to support the topics he discusses. I have shown a few of his videos to students and they typically comment that ‘he talks too fast’. I agree and don’t really think these videos were designed to introduce the topics to kids of that age range (hence: Crash Course), but they provide an awesome example of maybe not ‘zen’ presentation, but at least very well made visual presentations. He covers a lot of the material regarding the history of the Atomic Model development in his Chemistry series. If I create more presentations in the future I will be sure to
steal use some of those graphical design ideas.
For this Atomic Model History ZENtation, notes of all important details would go on a handout, so it’s already organized and students can listen and enjoy the story, which would be half made up by me on the spot and half true. So, below I present a trimmed down ‘ZENtation on The History of the Atomic Model.