COETAIL Final Project – Persuasive Speech with Amazing Audiovisuals

I am very happy to have been involved in helping design a new unit for our  Grade 10 English course, on Persuasive Presentation. This would not have happened without the quest for this COETAIL final project.

Collaboration

I wanted to work directly with students, and for the entire cycle of a new project, or have the opportunity to help remodel an existing one. As a Middle and High School Teacher-Librarian, the best option was therefore to collaborate with some classroom teachers.  You can read in this previous post how I ended up working closely with the three grade 10 English teachers, for a total of seven classes, populated with 124 students! (a little crazy I know)
As those teachers are redesigning the grade 10 curriculum this year, it was a perfect moment to build a new collaboration.

After our first meeting on February 23rd (see picture), we shared a Google Docs, adding information about the next steps and checking with each other by assigning tasks to a colleague: it is a very efficient way to work together and to make sure everyone read the new information. We were still in hybrid teaching mode at the time, and therefore some of my colleagues would sometimes be working from home. We also had impromptu quick meetings when we needed to clarify something about the organization: luckily our office spaces, although in different buildings,  are on the same connecting floor, which was very handy.

Persuasive Speech: The Spoken Word and the Power of Persuasion

We want our students, adults of tomorrow, to master the art of persuasion, as those skills will allow them to express themselves, and to step up to make the world a better place. More than ever, when considering all the pressing issues our society is facing, being articulate and able to convince others to take action is critical to bring positive changes in our communities, for example for fighting for social justice for example, or for promoting sustainability of the environment.

Students were invited to brainstorm and then to each choose a topic that they care about. They could use a question they recently addressed in their “Change and Challenge of the 21st Century” course or something else they were already knowledgable of. This unit was not about research skills this time, which was a change for me, who spend a substantial portion of my time teaching that part of an inquiry cycle!

Essentials Questions of Inquiry

  1. What language techniques do speakers use to persuade their target audience? 
  2. What role does non-verbal communication play in delivering a message effectively?
  3. How can audiovisual elements be effectively used to support the purpose of a speech?
  4. How can one self-assess their strengths and weaknesses as a speaker in order to improve the final product?

Unit Plan – Understanding by Design

Find here the Understanding by Design (UbD) document drafted for this project. It might be subject to revision with the input from the English Department when we will update this unit next year.

Project Details

ISTE Standards

Here are the ISTE Standards for students I was going to focus on:

6. Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.

6.c. Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
6.d. Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

7. Global Collaborators: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.

7.b. Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
7.d. Students explore local and global issues and use collaborative technologies to work with others to investigate solutions.

My COETAIL Final Project Video

Introducing the Project

The project was introduced by the English teachers during the week of March 15, which was a 3-days week,  due to Learning Conferences. The students were on Distance Learning those days due to the Hybrid teaching schedule still in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I attended all the classes on Zoom as I wanted to introduce myself and explain to students how I was going to be involved in this project with them.

Creating Amazing Audiovisuals and Using Tech Tools

I won’t be describing the entire project: obviously, the English teachers were responsible for their course content. I will concentrate on the “Amazing Audiovisuals” presentation that I created, the tech tools involved, the Google Form I designed to help students clarify their presentation aids’ choices. I will also explain why I implemented a self and peer-review of the practice speech they recorded either at home or at school with my help.

You can see at the beginning of my Google Slides below about “Amazing Audiovisuals” that I transformed my actual content (slides 2 & 4) into visually more interesting slides (3 & 5) to explain better to students how they should apply Garr Reynolds “Presentation Zen” concept. It was then followed by some examples. My own knowledge is based on the COETAIL course 3: “Visual Literacy: Effective Collaborators and Communicators”.

Besides urging students to apply those concepts and always tending towards simplicity in their presentation, I also shared some nice tools with them, like Slides Carnival, free Google Slides themes, searchable by category.

I also taught them how to find Copyright-free images by:
– selecting Creative Commons licenses
– using Unsplash or Pixabay
– taking their own pictures
And then how they can look for free music online, to use in any project, including this one.

All those tips are very important as students need to be aware of the ethical use of information, especially that they don’t always realize that it includes pictures and music that are easily found online, but not always copyright-free.
Of course, I reminded them to create a bibliography in Noodle Tools, which is the citation creator we use at our school.

At the end of the class, I asked students to fill in the Google Form “Amazing Audiovisuals” I designed to help them clarify their presentation aids’ choices. It also allowed me to gather details on their topic, and check if they needed help at that stage.

During the following week, I made sure to attend each class to offer help to students about their presentation. It was also a chance for me to get to know students better, as they explained their topic to me and why they chose it. It felt like a treat compared to the months spent teaching from behind a computer screen.
It was a great opportunity to give individualized support to each student: sometimes I was helping them to clarify their topic, guiding them to select the best visuals to build an effective presentation.

Nota Bene: in my original plans, I was going to offer a “Master Class” for students interested in creating their own audiovisual to be incorporated in their Slides presentation: short podcast, video, news-like presentation using our Creative Studio and its green screen room. Due to another lockdown in Belgium before the Easter holidays, we went back on Distance Learning, which, very sadly, made those plans impossible. I am looking forward to implementing this optional workshop next year! Who knows, it might even become part of the project for everyone at some point.

Recording the Practice Speech

Some student chose to record their practice speech at the library. I was, therefore, able to offer them a  practice set up in very similar conditions to their final presentation.

   

Students Collaboration

Nor the practice speech (obviously!) nor the final one were being assessed. The content of the speech itself will not be graded either. This decision was made to offer maximum freedom to the student: they could take risks, be creative, and really push themselves to enjoy their topic and make others passionate about it.
Therefore it was even more interesting to create a document for students to complete self and peer assessments for formative feedback. Summatively, they will be graded on a craft report in which they analyze their choices afterwards. They would be able to refer back to that document when finalizing their craft report about the decisions made and their motivations.

Students shared with 3 to 4 classmates their practice speech recording as well as the “Practice Presentation” feedback form I created. They were asked to give constructive feedback on the themes addressed in class to make a successful speech: tone, eye contact, gestures, audiovisual, engagement,…  rather than spotting small mistakes. Then they had to repeat the process on their own presentation for a self-evaluation. Here is, as an example,  Michael’s feedback form, filled in by three of his classmates, alongside his self-assessment.

Final Presentations

I thoroughly and truly enjoyed every step of this project. Obviously attending the final presentations was the highlight of it all! Students did an exceptional job with this project: they were involved, often passionate about their topic, they were making a conscient use of tone and gestures to engage with their audience,  and they created wonderful and powerful visual aids.

My only regret: I could not see all 124 speeches: two classes are scheduled during the same block (but I did run between both to see some students from each group), and two classes fell behind the original schedule, and by the time they started their presentations, my own schedule had filled up and I had to move on to working on other projects both in Middle school and in High school.

   

Challenges and Successes

When I first approached one of the English teachers to see if we could collaborate to implement a project on Social Justice, I thought it would mean working with her two grade 10 classes. Although enthusiastic about the idea, she quickly came to realize that she could not deviate too much from the other classes’ program, especially as her two colleagues and herself were in the process of rewriting the English curriculum this year. This is how I ended up working with all seven classes, or in other words, with 124 students.
One of the challenges encountered was the lack of schedule flexibility: unlike a classroom teacher, I needed to work with their planning. Secondly, working closely with so many students for a few weeks, on top of my other professional commitments, was a challenge.
It brought some frustration, at times. for example when I realized I couldn’t be involved in every speech being delivered (and I so much wanted that!).
At the beginning of the project, students in High School were still in hybrid teaching mode, at that point it meant alternating one full day on campus followed by one day at home with classes on Zoom. Unfortunately, due to a new lockdown, we went back to full Distance Learning before our Spring break in mid-April. Like so many of us since February 2020, I adapted my presentation but had to drop the “master class” workshops during which students were going to produce their own audiovisuals in our Creativity Studio.

In the end, I feel that this project brought a lot of learning opportunities for everyone, great collaboration moments, between colleagues but also between students, and it gave me the chance to teach students a different content than what I am used to as a Middle & High School Teacher-Librarian while building relationships with a lot of them. And that is precious. Learning happens better when there are relationships involved. I was really touched by how all students agreed to be filmed, and let me take pictures. Quite a few of them (and I am so sad I had to only select three) came to the library for a feedback interview, during their own time, “to help Mme Toilier with her own project”! <3

Final Words

Being part of this whole process was a great experience for me: it gave me the chance to “Be Alive in the Classroom” which is after all the COETAIL course 5 title and to apply some of the knowledge acquired in the last 16 months. Most importantly, I enjoyed working on redesigning a unit from the start and building a new collaboration that will continue.

COETAIL has impacted my practice as I am now fully aware of what new pedagogies look like concretely, and it allowed me to catch up with everything that is already happening in my own school. It also showed me how essential it is to keep learning and to stay connected with other educators.

Finally, I treasure all the relationships I built or developed thanks to this  COETAIL project: with those grade 10 students, with their English teachers Jess, Paul and Brian, with my COETAIL coach, Joel Bevans, and with Luis, and many other COETAIL-ers from our Cohort 12. My colleague and friend Charlotte helped me in many ways. And my family simply made that entire 16 months COETAIL journey possible. Thanks.

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A village and the whole world

Although there is a lot of debate (see NPR article here) on the precise origin of the claimed “African” proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child“,  it might originate from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb ‘Oran a azu nwa’, which means it takes a community or village to raise a child (Wikipedia).

The past fifteen months proved to me that it indeed takes a community to help you grow.

Fifteen months ago, in February 2020 is indeed when I started my COETAIL journey. I was not quite sure where I was heading to, nor what the program involved.
The Certificate of Educational Technology and Information Literacy (COETAIL) was designed by international educators and consultants Jeff Utecht and Kim Cofino to encourage other educators to learn and reflect on their teaching, pedagogy, and to implement true technology integration.  By essence, it also fosters global collaboration, and help participants to develop their PLN.

It is also a rather intense program, that forced me to get out of my comfort zone, and I won’t lie: it was painful at times. The aggravating factor was the start of the pandemic a few weeks later.
But the takeaways are huge: not only it broadened the scope of my knowledge, but it also challenged me to (re)evaluate my practices, both from the pedagogical point of view but also in terms of true and meaningful technology integration.

But the biggest learnings are definitely linked to the continuous exchanges with other educators: the program is constructed on a Cohort model, guided by a Coach (himself a former COETEIL-er obviously) and based on collaboration and exchange among participants, and… the rest of the world thanks to social media such as Twitter.

It was great to get to learn about my #Cohort12 members, who they are, where they teach and where they are from, what are they teaching style and what they tried and tested during the past 15 months. What I valued most were the direct exchanges, either through a blog post comment that they would leave me (see below, with my answer), or that I will write for them.

But there was also some direct conversation when we started to use Twitter private messages, at first mainly to get organized our group work for the Course 2 Final Project.

A the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, I also joined different educator focus groups on Facebook. For example “The Playful Librarian” (now renamed The Hands-on Hive), a place for “library workers and educators to share ideas for play-based learning”. Or Int’l School Library Connection, a group “for educators, particularly school librarians and others who have an interest in School Libraries from all over the globe”.
Keeping in mind all the COETAIL encouragement for collaboration, I started to interact, asking questions or trying to help when I could answer (but didn’t always think to keep evidence).

I joined Twitter at the beginning of the COETAIL program. Until then, I was only using my MHS Library account, posting about some of our events or projects with students. The targeted audience was mainly our own school community.
To be frank, I haven’t been an active Twitter community member (yet?), and I am still too much of a lurker as explained in one of my very first blog posts “To lurk or not to lurk?” published in February 2020.

I would explain this by the following:
– strangely enough, I have issues exposing myself on social media; put me in a room with a small or larger group, and I won’t have difficulties approaching different people even if I don’t know them, talking and mingling.
what is my validity? There are plenty of people “out there” that are more knowledgeable, and have a voice. I don’t believe my contributions can be meaningful enough to share them.
As an example, when co-#Cohort12  Cindy recently asked a question on Twitter, as I was about to write, I saw that she already got exactly the same answer (so what’s the point in posting the same answer?). This time I forced myself to reply anyway!

But as I was reading #Cohort12 Julija‘s blog post on her own Community Engagement reflection, I found it

Last month Luis organized a #Cohort12 video call with some of us that saw his message and were available to join, depending on our schedules and our time zone as we are spread across the globe. It happened so fast that Luis didn’t have time to prepare an agenda he said, but it was a very natural conversation, as we talked about our jobs, our own, yet shared COETAIL journey, and our final project. It felt great to feel part of the same community.

 

The COETAIL journey? It is definitely a trip worth taking… and the whole world is now my village. Thank you to all my co-COETAIL-ers that have inspired and encouraged me. Thanks to our Coach Joel for his support.

Audiovisuals and Apples

Audiovisual Elements during a Speech

Visual or audiovisual elements during a presentation can help as attention-grabbers, evidence, examples. Thanks to them, you can enhance your research and keep the audience engaged. Of course, they need to be carefully chosen and come naturally in your presentation.
Audiences who use more of their senses to engage during a presentation remember better the message, and for a longer period of time.

To help our grade 10 English students to achieve that goal during their new unit on “Persuasive Speech”, I used some of my COETAIL course 3 content,  as the purpose was related to “Visual Literacy: Effective Collaborators and Communicators”.

We planned my input on the following areas:

  1. help students to first understand what efficient audiovisual aids are and how to create effective Google Slides with those elements
  2. teach students how to use our Creativity Studio and its equipment, to create their own audiovisual support
  3. provide tech support during the entire process
  4. design online feedback forms for students to receive meaningful comments from their classmates after the practice speech

In The 7 Best Visual Presentation Tips You Will Ever Read we can find some interesting reminders on what a visual presentation should look like.
Of course, my main focus will be on Garr Reynolds’ What is Good Presentation. His Presentation Zen concept (and name of his website) is one of the “bible” in the domain. Without a doubt, I will reinforce his message to the students: “Simplicity is the key”!

Religions and babies – Hans Rosling (TEDTalk – 22 May 2012)

Hans Rosling had a question: Do some religions have a higher birth rate than others — and how does this affect global population growth?
Speaking at the TEDxSummit in Doha, Qatar, he graphs data over time and across religions.

Ten years later, this presentation is still considered a reference for how Rosling uses visuals to get his audience to easily understand complex data, with a pinch of humour. If you don’t know it, I encourage you to spend 13 minutes of your life watching the video: it is worth it!
It is also a great example of using great online animation AND physical props with the same purpose: to help his audience understand more complex data and concepts.

Going for the Apple

We are a 1:1 school, and our laptop hardware lease for Middle and High school was expiring in June 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic required to delay that process one more year.

Luckily our IT department started the process early enough before the pandemic hit us and kept us at home last Spring: they researched and tested several different models, gathering input from faculty and students in the process. Arts and Performing Arts teachers note that Macs have significantly more creative capability for learning. Additionally, faculty who work across divisions have expressed a desire for a single platform: as I mentioned in a previous post, the Early Childhood Center (Preschool to grade 1) and the Elementary school (grade 2 to 6) have indeed already been using iPads and Macbooks for a few years. It is a rather unique situation, I believe, to have different platforms at one school. Did you ever come across such a model?
It makes sense to adopt a common one that will enable the tech team to better support the single hardware, and it will facilitate a school-wide professional development plan. It also addresses a need noted in our last CIS Accreditation report.

While students will receive the new MacBook Pro at the beginning of next school year, to ease the transition for teachers, those will receive theirs after the Easter break, mid-April. The idea is to give them time to work with the new MacBook Pro while still using their Lenovo during this school year in order to become familiar with the new laptop. It was decided that the library team will get trained ahead of colleagues, to be able to help the IT team support the faculty and staff (yes I know!). We soon created a Google website where we could share tutorials and our own “exercises” (for example, recording a podcast). I did not choose the name: Mac Vanguard. I would not have dared.

It also includes the tutorial below that my colleague found, and linked to Eeyore‘s picture “Be Brave“… as it reflected how we felt we needed to be at that moment.

Indeed, it felt scary at first to change years of practice and habits using our laptops.
I was lucky enough to receive three nearly individual & professional Apple training sessions with Joe Moretti, who was first presented to me as “an Apple Guru”… which alarmed me more than anything else. Gurus don’t have the reputation of being great teachers I thought.
I was wrong. At least when it comes to Joe! All teachers in the world should be as knowledgeable on their topic as he on his while adapting their expertise to your level of learning. And doing that with empathy. On his site Intuition, you can read: “Using technology to facilitate and enhance learning” which particularly resonates with the COETAIL program!

Our Technology Integration Teacher from the ECC / ES divisions, by default our Apple specialist on campus, just sent us the link to a library of videos to support faculty and staff further learning: “Mac Basics by Apple Professional Learning Specialists”.
How does your own tech support look like in your school?

Obviously, I am still learning to get used to the Apple environment… If you have any tips or other tutorials that could help, don’t hesitate to send them my way!