Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Presentations and Third Graders

Powered by emaze

The timing of this chapter in Troy Hicks’ book, Crafting Digital Writers (2013) could not have been planned better. As a technology coach for three elementary schools, I survey the teachers each week on different topics they would like for me to work with them on or to teach their students. Several third grade teachers asked if I would talk to the students about how to create a Google Presentation including good design tips. As I was reading Crafting Digital Writers (2013) I continually related his ideas back to the students I was about to teach and what I know about third graders developmentally. The students receive Chromebooks in third grade so they previously had not been exposed to any type of formal presentation tools such as PowerPoint or Google Slides. I saw that as an opportunity to impress on the students good design habits on an otherwise blank slate.
I timed the presentation so the students were currently working on researching and drafting their thoughts on the topics assigned to them by the teachers.  I decided this was the ideal time to discuss publishing their ideas because it emphasized to them the importance of drafting and planning their thoughts before designing their presentation. In Crafting Digital Writers (2013, p. 67), Hicks says, “A good presentation is the result of a great deal of writing that never shows up on the slides but becomes part of the words spoken by the writer.” Knowing third graders, I realized their tendency would be to skip the drafting stage and go straight to creating the presentation because of appeal of picking a template and choosing a font. I wanted to make sure they had plenty of time to develop their ideas on paper before we explored Google Slides.
After the planning process, I introduced good design for presentations. I carefully picked the concepts from the chapter to meet the third-graders developmental needs. For example, in Joshua Johnson’s webpage, Design Shack (2015) it is suggested the students do not use a built-in theme or template. I decided because the students were so young and still learning about complementary colors it might be best if they did start with a template. However, Johnson’s (2015) other concepts such as “simple is better, create clear focal points, and typography speaks volumes” served as the main points in the lesson. As we talked the main idea the students discovered was that if an animation, image, font, etc. was used it should be chosen because it added to the meaning of the slides and did not distract the reader from the purpose of the slideshow. The teachers then used the PBL rubric (, 2015) as a guide to discuss with the students the presentations and as a final assessment.

Link to Presentation Rubric Download,. (2015). 3-5 Presentation Rubric (CCSS Aligned) | Project Based Learning | BIE. Retrieved 21 October 2015, from

Hicks, T. (2013). Crafting digital writing: Composing texts across media and genres. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Johnson, J. (2015). 10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck: Pt.2 | Design Shack. Retrieved 21 October 2015, from