Using Pecha Kucha to Help Students Review
February 3, 2012
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Many of you may have heard of the Pecha Kucha presentation technique. The general premise is this: A presenter can have twenty slides and twenty seconds a slide in which to convey his or her point. The slides advance automatically whether or not the speaker is ready. There is more to it than that, and it has an interesting history; Those are the basics, though. You can learn more about the concept in general here.
I want to share with you how it made a big splash in my 7th grade English class this week. The class before a test, in middle school at least, is always interesting. The students know it is coming, of course, but the realization that a few weeks of hard work is coming to a culminating assessment the next day can be overwhelming. Middle school students are not always prepared to understand the reasons teachers have for assessing their understanding or for understanding the ways we might go about it.
That is where the Pecha Kucha adaptation comes in. We had been reading a novel, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick, but the activity could be adapted to anything. I divided my class into thirds. One group was assigned literary devices, one was assigned plot points, and the other characters. Each student developed one slide based on their assigned category and according to the instructions below:
For Review Activity
I had a number of goals for adapting and presenting the idea this way. Mainly, it would help the students learn to think critically about what we had discussed, prioritized information, and present ideas in a manner other than simply regurgitating the way we originally learned it. The following is an example that I showed my students. I had them time me as I explained it in under 30 seconds. It may only make sense to you if you read the book!
Regarding the book DRUMS, GIRLS, and DANGEROUS PIE by Jordan Sonnenblick
The kids loved the concept and how we adapted it. They got creative with how they portrayed their thoughts, as well. A number of students did some interesting work with the wordle-like website Tagxedo. I pulled all of their slides into one presentation and they could come by to get at the end of the day if they wanted to use it for review at home.
What other ways could you use Pecha Kucha to help kids? I think it could be a valuable tool for growing their critical thinking skills.