Category Archives: IB PYP

Multimedia, NGO’s and Tears

Using multimedia can be a useful method of engaging with important causes and issues.

The grade 6 classes have just finished looking into various NGOs/NPOs in our Sharing the Planet unit.  As a final task, the students had to create a multimedia campaign to create awareness for their chosen organization.  As an added bonus, my teaching partner and I decided that we would award the winning group 5000 yen to donate to their cause.  As I thought about the final project for COETAIL Course 3 I decided to use this exercise as a starting point.

In the end, the UbD planner that I created (located after the image and video credits), reflects much of what the students were able to accomplish in a week, with suggestions for activities, exercises, and resources that I feel could strengthen the experience.  As I typed out this project I had to consider which format would suit this idea best: UbD or the IB PYP planner.  In the end I chose the UbD planner because I felt that this project could fit with multiple IB PYP transdisciplinary themes.  By putting it in the UbD format it will make transferring this work between different UOI’s easier for me and anyone else who would like to try a similar project.

As the project unfolded the students worked incredibly hard on their presentations.  My teaching partner and I were both impressed with the depth of the knowledge gained by the children in terms of presentation skills, technological skills, and the work of NGOs/NPOs.  As students created their presentation each chose methods which best suited their comfort levels.  Some made posters that immediately drew my eye, others made brochures, but two students stood out for me in terms of how they blurred technology with visual impact to create pieces that brought this teacher to tears.

One student in my class is extremely intuitive when it comes to visuals.  As he works, he will typically come up to me only to ask permission to use something or if he needs help manipulating the technology in a way that works for him.  For this particular assignment he took some pictures he found online and combined them in iMovie, added a musical track he made in Garage Band, and when he presented it, he gave a speech.  The end effect was incredibly moving and demonstrated a deep understanding of the power of using multimedia to convey his message.

A student from my teaching partner’s class went above and beyond anything I was expecting.  Like many students, she incorporated a movie that she made.  As I watched the movie, I was brought to tears.  It contained everything I had hoped for; facts, emotional impact, and a plea for an NGO/NPO.  I was so impressed that I asked if I could put it up on YouTube.  As I spoke to the parents, they were very grateful and appreciated the fact that I asked for permission.  The video is included below edited with permission to include the original composition mentioned above.

After the students had seen each the work of their classmates, we asked them to discuss what they learned about presentations, multimedia, projects, and technology:

  1. Test your technology to make sure it works.
  2. Don’t read from your notes.
  3. Look your audience in the eye.
  4. Pictures can have a strong impact on emotion.
  5. Music can evoke strong emotions within people.
  6. The text you put up on a slide should be minimal.
  7. Having a personal connection with the cause can make your presentation more powerful.

As the projects completed were completed, I think back on the experience and what I have learned or ideas that have been reinforced from my students during this short week:

  1. Even in a short amount of time students can produce amazing work.
  2. Given an environment where they feel safe taking risks with their work, students will surprise you.
  3. Simply by allowing the students to play with technology, they are able to create meaningful pieces of work.
  4. Students are much more creative and attune to the importance of visuals then I was at their age.
  5. Something extremely simple can sometimes be the best piece of work.

Photo Credits:

Global Player by alles-schlumpf found on Flickr, Creative Commons License

Video Credits:

Summative Assessment found on YouTube uploaded by Brendan Lea



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Filed under COETAIL, Course 3, IB PYP, Uncategorized

Tell Me a Story

I have attended and given many presentations over the years.  Some were good while others were downright awful.  As an audience member, I have my own ideas of what I like and don’t like about presentations.  For example, I have always hated presentations where every last word is given on the screen.  Whenever this happens I immediately read the screen and begin to alter the presentation to my own style in my head.  This shifts my focus from the content of the presentation to the form.  Over the years I’ve had the fortune to be invited to speak to students, staff, and parents on a variety of different issues.  I have tried to learn from some of the poorer presentations I have seen and with each presentation I give my style becomes more simplistic.

When I first started using PowerPoint in university I always did my best to ensure that each slide had a title and that I used bullet points to highlight important ideas.  Essentially using them to cue me and remember what I wanted to say.  This method stuck with me for years and I usually got compliments on my presentations; however, in 2010 I was introduced to Presentation Zen at the Create the Future conference.  At the time the idea of inserting an image with a text box seemed incredibly easy and I again modified my presentation style.

Inserting images into a presentation is the easy part, however, using those images to help craft the story you want to tell is more difficult.  During my course on the Exhibition I was asked to create a presentation outlining the important elements of the exhibition for an audience.  I immediately thought of creating a Presentation Zen presentation using pictures of making okonomiyaki.  Overall I feel like I did a decent job but I was disappointed with it because the pictures were from a variety of different sources and thus the story that I had in my head was never fully realized.

In my mind as I created the presentation I imagined a group of friends going through the process of making this wonderful meal.  I realize now with the help of Garr Reynolds that in my head I was not simply creating a presentation to disseminate information but was indeed crafting a story to tell my audience.  In my head the story was of friends enjoying the meal.  However, because the people in the images kept changing, I felt that part was lost and my vision for the presentation never fully realized.

After several months I am now preparing to give the presentation to parents.  To help me with this I asked two of my friends to join me for a meal.  While eating we took pictures that I used to help modify my original presentation.

I feel the second slideshow turned out better because it tells the story that I wanted from beginning to end.  This to me is perhaps the most important tip to remember while preparing a presentation.  After all who doesn’t enjoy a good story.

Video Credits:

Presentation Zen: The Video found on YouTube, uploaded by PeachpitTV


Filed under COETAIL, Course 3, IB PYP

Teaching animal emotions through pictures

What emotion do you see in this picture?

In our Sharing the Planet unit the class will be exploring sustainability and the impact our energy sources have on animal habitats.  As the unit progresses I am hoping to have the students write a story about how animals react to human interference with their environment.  As a child it took me a long time to understand that animals have feelings.  In order to help students with that concept, I am on asking them to deconstruct pictures of animals as a class.  As each image is presented students will be asked to explain the emotion that is conveyed by the animals in each picture and what in the images conveys that emotion.

For example, the fourth slide contains a monkey grooming another monkey.  While viewing this particular picture I remember all those times as a child when my mother would try to make me look my best by fixing my shirt or combing my hair and I felt incredibly bored, most likely giving a similar look to the one in the picture.  I imagine that most of my students have felt like that at one point or another and I feel that this picture and others in the slideshow will help them relate to animals.  As the class goes on students will be asked to provide a scenario for the animals that might have resulted in the image.

Once the activity is completed the class will be asked to choose an image of their own and to write a story to accompany the picture.  As the unit progresses students will be shown images of animals in distress because of human interaction in their environment.  Eventually this will lead to the students writing their own anthropomorphic tale about how a particular animal feels when humans interfere in their habitats.  I believe that by starting with a simple slideshow and by asking my students questions, it will help them develop a deeper appreciation for animals and hopefully will help them with their stories.

Image Credits:

I’m ready for some more by ucamuri found on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed


Filed under COETAIL, Course 3, IB PYP

The Exhibition Through Okonomiyaki

The months of November and December are shaping up to be incredibly buys months for me.  Currently I am working on Course 2 of COETAIL, taking The Exhibition online course, organizing a Winter concert, and of course teaching my wonderful class.  I love this feeling but when the winter break happens I will be heading straight to the local Onsen for a massage.

Anyway, as part of my course work for The Exhibition, we were asked to creatively represent all the elements.  I decided to use okonomiyaki.  Below are the fruits of my labor:


There are presenter notes but to view them you need to go to the actual web-site.  To do so click on the SlideShare icon on the lower right.

All images are Creative Commons Licensed found on Flickr

<div style=”width:425px” id=”__ss_10125885″> <strong style=”display:block;margin:12px 0 4px”><a href=”; title=”Okonomiyaki” target=”_blank”>Okonomiyaki</a></strong>

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Filed under IB PYP