Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, October 17, 2014

Presentations (or Pedagogy II)

One of the things I noticed about Lawrence Stroud's lectures was something that I, and nearly all of us do: we read the visual that's on the screen.

After all, we've done the research, organized the content, and now want to present it in an understandable and coherent way. We've put words together and tried to ensure we haven't left anything out.

But if you're in the audience of someone who reads words off the visual to you, it's difficult to simultaneously read the words and hear what's being said. And sometimes it's hard to stay awake.(I advocate handing out the visuals before the presentation so students can take notes on the handouts.)

If you haven't seen Don McMillan's Life After Death by Powerpoint, it's probably worth 10 minutes of your time.

If you'd like a shorter, more serious set of suggestions, check out WienotFilms'
Powerful Presentations.

Then there's Guy Kawaski's "10-20-30" rule for presentations.

Dr. Carl Wieman, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, claims that the human brain "can hold a maximum of about seven different items in its short-term working memory and can process no more than about four ideas at onceā€¦" Thus presentations should include no more than four ideas (concepts) and seven facts.

All right, you say. None of those things takes into account the demands and circumstances of the classroom and an Advanced Placement curriculum.

I agree. You have to "monitor and adjust," as my colleague Ken MacDonald used to chant. You have to adapt to your schedule, your population, your school culture, and your abilities.

But it's really worth thinking about. As the Weinot Films presentation points out, planning and thinking through this kind of presentation takes time and effort. But the results are often amazing.

Don't read your visuals. Don't complicate your presentations. Don't make them very long (even if you have a block). If you class is longer than 20 minutes, plan several 20 minute activities.

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

What You Need to Know SIXTH edition is NOW AVAILABLE.
Updated and ready to help.

Just The Facts! is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

What You Need to Know: Teaching Tools, the original version and v2.0 are available to help curriculum planning.

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