The Power of Presentation (if it’s done right)

It clicked for me today and I wasn’t even looking for it.  I now understand the power of images and the importance of visual literacy.  As a teacher who uses images to inspire imagination and strengthen comprehension, I thought I knew how to create and give a presentation.  Prompted by course three of CoETaIL to open my eyes I realized that wasn’t so.

I found myself wanting to shout, “A-ha” while visiting author Jan Reynolds shared her books titled, “Celebrate” and “The Cycle of Rice“.  I was completely overwhelmed because each of her beautiful photos held so much power.  There were no words to read.  Her photos were Pecha-Kucha-like, on a short timer, and she narrated while allowing quiet time for thought.

Her presentation was simple.  In a darkened room, photo slides held the screen for about 30 seconds each while she sat on a stool to the side of the screen and narrated.  She spoke slowly and kept to the timing of the slideshow.  At times she would say just one word or a sentence and we understood.  Other times she would explain a concept like, all cultures celebrate with dance, by giving details about the specific cultures that she had photographed dancing.  Once she had finished “The Cycle of Rice” story, she told us to reflect on what she shared.  Then, the exact same slides roll on the screen in the exact same order, just a little faster and with music.  Having this time to reconnect the dots and solidify what was presented was so important to my understanding.

Some rights reserved by Austin Kleon

Mrs. Reynolds never talked at length.  She did not control the timing of the slides during the presentation.  She let the images do the teaching.

I thought I would introduce our unit of study, “Human Impact on the Rainforest” with a proper PowerPoint, but I think Ms. Reynold’s model, without text, is more powerful.  It holds the audience’s attention and allows for much more thinking than any wiki, slideshow, PowerPoint, Speech, or Prezi I’ve ever created.

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About Laura Arleth

I am currently one of 13 fourth grade teachers as Singapore American School with 22 students to guide in the process of learning. I have so much fun integrating meaningful technology in the class which motivates students. I have also lived and taught in Venezuela, Korea, and Canada, earned my MS from SUNY Buffalo, and am currently working on COETAIL. I hope one day to be a writer, photographer, yoga teacher, and mother!
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One Response to The Power of Presentation (if it’s done right)

  1. Jeff Utecht says:

    OK…now comes the warning. Once you go down this road of visual presentations…if will kill all other presentations you have to sit through.

    A true presentation focuses on the presenter….not the PPT. If you are focusing on the PPT then that’s when you know it’s not a good presentation. The visuals add to the story…but they are not the story.

    Now…let’s apply this to all the presentations that kids have to do in school. One great thing about making kids do a visual presentation is that they have to know their stuff….they can’t turn to read bulletpoints or look at what’s on the slide….they actually have to learn the materail. It’s difficult but once kids see it and do it…they to see how powerful it is.

    I’ve been working on presentations with your HS students the last two years making it a focus of mine…and we’ve seen some great results…even spilling over into the way they are creating presentation for assemblies. Visual presentations….are fantastic!

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