Encourage creativity, reflection, and confidence through the use of multimedia presentations.

kid with images floating above him

Public speaking is an invaluable skill, but unfortunately it's one that we often don't give enough time or attention to. However, multimedia presentations (like digital stories) can lay the groundwork for developing those skills. Done right, they provide a perfect forum for combining images, text, and powerful oratory in any classroom situation. Not only do they allow students who don't like public speaking to test the waters and build confidence, but they also allow teachers to target instruction to those students who really need support.

1. Multimedia presentations develop confidence in language skills.

For students who lack confidence or language skills, a multimedia presentation created using tools such as Adobe Spark, VoiceThread, Google Drive, or iMovie is an opportunity to develop fluency in English (or any target language) without the pressure of speaking live in front of an audience. With the opportunity to record as many times as necessary, the fear of errors can be eliminated, allowing students to focus on content, intonation, and organization.

We can start building the next generation of orators in effective, engaging ways.

2. Process-driven presentations encourage meaningful feedback.

With digital presentations, teachers can more easily check in on student progress and offer instructional advice as well. Rather than everything riding on the live speech or presentation, multimedia presentations can be more about process, and with process-driven assignments there is greater opportunity for teachers to conference with students, offer advice, and provide formative feedback. If the presentations are shared via the cloud, that feedback can even come outside of class time.

3. Script-writing strengthens ELA skills -- including information literacy.

All the same planning and organization that goes into writing a good essay goes into creating a good presentation. Students start with a central idea, find supporting ideas and information, structure those to build an argument or explain a concept, and finish with some kind of conclusion. The only element of writing not present in creating a good multimedia presentation is the conventions of writing (punctuation, paragraph structure, and so on), but the framing of ideas and thinking processes are very similar.

Additionally, students have to find appropriate information to support their points of view in a multimedia presentation as well as the photos, audio clips, drawings, or videos that go with them. This requires students to cultivate good information-literacy skills, including searching databases, evaluating resources, and creating citations. 

4. Multimedia presentations challenge students to think creatively.

As teachers, if we really want to foster creativity, we can require or encourage students to create their own graphics, images, audio, and video clips. When students must create something, they have to figure out how to represent their ideas -- a form of abstract, symbolic expression that ups the intellectual ante tremendously.

5. Choice provides opportunity for students to shine.

Let's face it: For some of our students, writing essays or reports is a tremendous challenge. That's not to say that it's not a valuable challenge, but in certain situations we're really looking for content, not writing skills. In this case, a multimedia presentation can be the perfect medium for some students to demonstrate a high level of content mastery. Giving students a choice in how they show understanding can be a legitimate way of maintaining high content standards for all students.

With all the digital presentation tools at our fingertips, we can start building the next generation of orators in effective, engaging ways. There's no reason not to start today. 

James Denby

I have been a teacher for over twenty years and joined the Common Sense community to connect with other educators and hone my teaching practice . My goal is to engage, connect, and support teachers in order to enhance their practice in the classroom. These days I do a lot of teacher training around coding and design thinking - helping teachers to find ways to bring those skill sets into their classrooms and existing curricula. This fall I will be joining the Faculty of Education at NHL Stenden - a university in the Netherlands.

As a teacher since 1991, I have now worked with every grade from K-12. In the time that I have been an educator, I have seen an incredible variety of powerful digital tools emerge that support instruction and learning. Making sense of those tools is what the Common Sense community is all about (and what Graphite Mentors like me are here to help with).

My career has taken me to 4 countries but only five schools. My most recent classroom position (and love) is middle school Humanities (integrated language arts and social studies). Throughout my career, I have worked primarily with English Language Learners (ELL) and students with mild to moderate learning needs. As a sometime language teacher and a permanent learner of languages, I understand the incredible role that technology can play in language acquisition.

Outside the classroom, I am working on several big education-related projects:

1. Creating learning materials for teachers that combine design-based learning and technology .
2. Writing and publishing teacher resource books in Language Arts and Social Studies for Teacher's Discovery.