My students are currently writing research papers on African countries and then each giving a 2 to 3 minute presentation to the class. Of the 30 points, the presentation only makes up 5. I just had a shy student ask if he can forfeit the points and skip presenting. My first response was no, you have to present. But does he? It's not a public speaking class, he has calculated and accepted the cost to his grade, and I do believe it will be very uncomfortable for him and will not yield a good presentation. It's supposed to be "good for him" to overcome his shyness, but is it?
As we were talking, I couldn't help but think about this talk I had seen on the power of introvert.
Your profile indicates you teach grades 9-12 and students in that grade range can certainly make informed decisions. I think you should allow him the option of forfeiting the five points. Really, most students relish the presentation spotlight, but a shy student may truly not feel good about presenting to the class.
If this is going to change the student's letter grade, I'd probably offer to have him stay after school and present to me alone. Kind of a compromise on just not doing it vs you have to do it. :-)
I ultimately decided to make presenting optional. We had a short discussion on why I had changed my mind and I asked him to give some thought to why he feels so strongly about not presenting. I double checked that he had done the math and knew the true impact of the decision on his grade and let him decide. He chose to opt out.
I wish I had the time and flexibility to offer a variety of presentation options - I'm sure he would be comfortable presenting a video or other media. As it is, I have to cram the history of the world into 180 days minus finals, testing, school activities, etc. I already have to scramble and cut content to make time for going over the research process and writing the papers and can't/don't want to give more time to the preparation for and giving of presentations. That being said, our district is adding in days next year, so maybe this is something I can reconsider for next year.
Thank you for sharing your response and your reasons for your response, Sarah. We have to make those real-life decisions and you had a tough call.
If only I could give you the "gift of time" in this case. :-) Isn't it interesting how your view changed after discussing the options with your student and your student still viewed this as something he chose to opt out of. I wonder if he would have made the same choice if his grade was affected more significantly. I wonder if he would have chosen another media to present with, given the time and choice?
It sounds like you and your student came to an understanding that worked for both of you. Thanks for sharing!
That's a really interesting graphic. I appreciate the angle of nurturing learning and interactions rather than *forcing* people into potentially uncomfortable or unproductive situations (really looking at #12). I think there's an ill-conceived notion that introverted people need to be pushed into a spotlight, or that some people are inarticulate simply because they don't say as many words as others.
I think it's good to have students give presentations b/c there are various types of jobs/industries in which presentations are important--whether it's selling a product to a client, or teaching/mentoring/tutoring to students, or giving a speech. But given the original poster's situation, I do think it's interesting and worth noting that the student holds himself accountable for his actions with the knowledge that there will be consequences. It's admirable when students take responsibility--in this case, taking the time to assess the project and its grade weight, and deciding what was best for his/her situation--and actually talk with the teacher, rather than refusing or failing to present without a reason.
I love this graphic, Lisa. I'm going to share it! I agree with all these care tips for introverts. I also have to agree with Tiffany that many life/work situations require public speaking. We do students a disservice if we don't prepare them for this. To me, it's not about overcoming shyness so much as it is about learning a necessary skill.
So, in keeping with the graphic's advice, I would give them plenty of notice (advice #6), schedule their presentation near the end so that they can observe others (#3), and offer to let them present with a friend or partner (#10).
I think presenting should be part of school activities as long as they are being taught how to present and how to use different tools when presenting. I don't think just asking them to go up there and share out is necessarily presenting, it is more of a spone activity. I also think students should present different ways. For example, they could present to their peers in the classroom, another class, a panel of teachers, parents, or professionals in the field. Or they could also present an interview format. There are many options for them practice presenting.
I would say yes, they have to present. As a teacher you have to model the presentation (videos from previous years always help), create a safe environment where students can present without being ridiculed, and build a colloborative environment. It is hard work and takes time. Presentation should become the norm then every student knows the expectations. You can also give different points for the level of presentation. Early projects might have a 15 second option. Get the students use to being in front of the class, speaking their name, and stating their thesis statement. Gonna be a lot harder when they go for a job interview.