Peer Presenting with Prezi (Part VI: Reflections)

2 05 2011

Findings and Reflections

The first finding out of this assignment, is that students seem to do the bare minimum for their projects. If you look at the grades for Prezi, you will find that most grades fall in the B and C range. A few of the reflections I received mention that they wished they had been given a guide for what they needed to be included. It was interesting, because I gave them what need in their organizer, but they had to find the important information about it themselves. To go along with this, I found that a few students asked for some guidance in their search for information. This goes along with the students in the previous paragraph, who called for a guide of information they needed to include in their Prezi. I, personally, go back and forth on whether or not I should give students information. If I gave it to them, it would potentially only further this idea of the ‘bare minimum’. However, if I don’t, it leads to a product similar to some of the Prezis that were made and presented to class that received a bad grade.

If I were to do this project again, I believe that I would provide a very bare minimum of information within the graphic organizer that I gave groups, and provide a few accredited websites that students could pull information from, in order to speed up the process, which students all had an issue with. The accredited websites may actually speed up the Prezi creation, as students would not have to use search engines to find information about their topic or prompt.

As discussed already, time was a huge issue. More than 75% of the reflections I received as extra credit mentioned a need for more time as a suggestion to better the assignment. The issue becomes within this, that time is a valuable thing, as Linkin Park would say. With the pressures of an SOL test, and at least another 60 years of history to cover, time really couldn’t be given to allow an extra day, either of lab time, or as some students suggested, a ‘review’ day, where the teacher went over the most important information covered in the Prezis.

Had the Prezis been above and beyond the information required, and had students created a note taking system that had been simple and efficient, this extra day for review would be irrelevant. However, as this assignment is about student creativity, it would be impractical to make students do everything in a specific way. As for an extra day in the lab, some of the Prezis, while being presented, had some issues with their completeness/organization. About the note taking apparatuses in her class, one student commented that: “Most of the slot-notes were simple to follow. Some, however, were a bit difficult to follow.” I believe that created very simple (both in information and in organization of the Prezi) Prezis because of the lack of time. Students had the opportunity to work outside of class, but many commented on the fact that it would have been nice. However, a few students reflected on the fact that they could work on it, with out having to email a PowerPoint to one another.

In conclusion of the need of more time for this assignment, I whole-heartedly agree with my students. Even my cooperating teacher commented that too much time was already invested into this assignment. My  supervisor made a suggestion to allow students to make such a presentation and Prezi at the end of the year, after standardized tests. I like this idea, but I still believe that with the right curriculum map, an assignment such as this could work. However, I do believe that one of two things must occur. Either there must be more scaffolding from the podium, or there must be more time for the students to research and create themselves.

Another problem that one student brought up that “It would be better if in addition to receiving a group grade, students also received an individual grade. Teenagers can often be unpredictable.” Ms. Luck, in a debriefing session after the assignment, mentioned another option, namely having students create Prezi’s individually. One of the biggest issues that some students had, when conversing with them after the assignment, was that they felt some people did most of the work, while others did very little.

I believe that group work is a great ‘break’ from the normal school routine, and believe that I would keep this structure, despite these comments. Before giving the assignment, I had toyed around with giving students a ‘group member’ evaluation sheet for each person in their group, but under the auspices of Ms. Luck, I held back from giving one. In  the future, I believe that some sort of group member evaluation would be a part of a similar assignment.

The final finding in all of this, is that students teaching class seems to have led to a drop in test scores, and some disgruntled students. At least 20% of the reflections I received voice some discontent with the student-led lectures. One student commented, “I feel that I learned a very little amount of information about WWII.” Looking at the table of test scores, some classes had a 5% shift in their grade, which potentially could have been worse without the extra 5 points from the reflections. A few things may also have influenced the drop in test scores: this test was over two separate chapters while the Imperialism test was on one chapter, this unit was roughly a week and a half longer, and there were no quizzes or reviews to help students remember information.

This ties in with the bare minimum covered in the Prezis by the students, the lack of a strong lecture, and the need for more time. This is the main measure of how students learned, and even students who usually test well, did not do well on this test. I believe that while the assignment did not go as well as planned and imagined, it was not the key contributor to the drop in test scores. That is not, however, to say that it did not play a role. I will go over how I want to change this when I am looking at how this experience if going to influence my future work with technology in the classroom.

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