‘Technology is not just a tool. It can give learners a voice that they may not have had before’. George Couros
Honestly, my initial reaction on having to host an assembly was skepticism. How would I find time to plan and prepare for an assembly, how will my students collaborate, how will the curriculum learning plans be met?
However, my students were enthusiastic about the assembly on their current unit ‘technology’ – so I set the ball rolling.
A unit rubric had been developed to assess student understanding as the unit progressed. So, it definitely made sense that students express their understanding along these four major criteria during the assembly. I made four groups based on the criteria below –
As I started the planning process, carving out time here and there (10 minutes sensory break, 15 mins class time, after school time😄), I realised this assembly would not only reinforce student understanding of the unit but also help them enhance their communication and collaboration skills. With the PYP exhibition process for Grade5 also about to commence, this was a good opportunity to discuss the key elements of PYP which they would need to be aware of.
Expression of understanding of technology thus ran parallel with the key concepts, ATL development and display of learner profile attributes. I wanted the students to realize that the process (planning, collaborating with peers) is as important as the final product. – that is, presentation of the assembly to their peers. The process of collaborating was not always smooth – in a classroom environment I would have given them time to sit in groups and discuss – how could I do that virtually? I suggested to the students that they create online word documents for collaboration where every group member could put down their thoughts and ideas. Students also took initiative to meet their group members outside of school hours to connect and collaborate if required. The struggle was real🤷♂️ ‘ Why aren’t you coming online’, ‘ I’m calling you, please accept’, ‘ Ma’am – he/she is not doing his part …our work is incomplete’. My input to them – the goal is meeting the deadline for the assembly, doing a good job of presenting, and then the team (not a single individual) will get any credit or any blame. So work together productively..
Once this brainstorming stage was done, the group chose 1 or 2 members who would put the presentation together using an online tool which they had learnt during the unit itself – Canva / Podcast / powerpoint presentation etc, displaying an understanding of using the various features.
Students had complete voice, choice and ownership during the planning of the assembly – choice of tools they wanted to use to present, voice as in the expression of their own understanding and ownership of the process – incorporating my feedback, ensuring deadlines were met.
My role in the assembly was of a mentor, guiding the students, giving feedback on the format and language of the presentations, and making them aware of the skills and attributes they were developing. It was really heartening to see the way the students incorporated this feedback with an open mind.
One important skill I feel I helped them enhance is how to structure a presentation – something most of us learned quite late in life. I ensured that they kept only bulleted lists with short phrases on each slide (too much text bores the audience), and included some relevant images for better aesthetics. One important instruction I shared was that they would not read from each slide – they would refer to the bulleted list and then build on that in their own words, and with examples. This would make the presentation more interactive.
Sharing some images from the presentations :
The students did a great job of presenting during the assembly and received positive feedback from the audience – their peers.
My own feeling was that students enhanced their understanding not only of the unit but also of the key concepts and ATL development (explaining to others is the best way to check your own understanding!)
As a last step students reflected on the presentation – one skill they enhanced, how they felt before and after the assembly and one thing they would differently next time. Am sharing some of their wonderfully articulated reflections below. I have taken their permission before sharing these 🙂