Insights has plenty of Student Projects to share with you! At the end, we might give a few suggestions on how to present the finished project, but really you can have your class do their presentations in any number of ways, and you can choose based on your personal preferences or on their skillsets or comfort zones. Here are all the presentation options we could think of.
Reading Your Paper Out Loud
This might be the most obvious option, and it makes perfect sense if the purpose of the project was writing. Reading aloud before the whole class is the default for Writing Prompt projects and many story-based projects.
But sometimes the point of a project is to gather information (as with WebQuests). If the students have written a report, it’s only to showcase what they have learned (to the teacher). A presentation is another way to showcase what they’ve learned (to the class), so the report is less important in that moment. For these types of projects, students shouldn’t simply read the report aloud; use one of the following options instead.
Present from Notes
Instead of reading word-for-word from a paper, students stand in front of their class and tell everyone what they’ve learned from memory, using a notecard with some key talking points to help them along (or if they’re confident, they don’t even have to use their notes). What they ultimately say should be pretty similar to what they wrote in their reports (if they wrote reports), but there are two important differences:
Speaking from memory and having to put their thoughts into words as they go along is a better test that they’ve actually learned what they’ve been working on.
As some students might give a stifled reading, especially if they’re not used to doing that in front of others, having them speak from memory/notes might sound more natural and thus be a more engaging presentation for the listeners.
Present with Visuals
Speaking of engaging, it certainly helps to have visual aids. The visuals are mostly to give the audience something to look at, but sometimes they aid comprehension, and they can even double as notes for the presenters. Visuals can range from a simple poster to a large tri-fold poster board to a slideshow. These increase in complexity, and the option you select should reflect the complexity of the project. (For example, if the students finished a project in a day, it wouldn’t be worth it for them to put together a slideshow. But if a year-long project has just concluded, diluting the conclusion to a letter-sized poster would be a disservice to all that the students had learned and accomplished.)
Keep in mind that visuals should be mostly that: visual. Pictures, icons, graphs, and simple tables are great. There shouldn’t be that many words, and the ones that are there should be labels (but not captions), section titles, and key takeaways. There probably shouldn’t even be any complete sentences unless it’s a notable quote or an important conclusion.
Talking in front of the class isn’t always necessary. Students could just make posters, and then you could hang them up around the class for a while. The size of the poster should reflect the length/complexity of the project.
Unlike the above option, there should be plenty of words to explain what the viewers are looking at and why it’s relevant, but having a few paragraphs isn’t a good idea either; no one wants to read a report on the wall. The words can be in bullet points, in tables, etc., and probably shouldn’t take up more space than the images.
More than any other option listed here, this showcases the students’ language abilities the least. But hopefully using English was more important for the bulk of the project, not primarily its conclusion.
Give a Demonstration
Is there a way students can show what they’ve learned through actions instead of just talking about it? If they learned a new ability, or rules for sport, or the details of a hobby, or instructions for an unusual task, they can act it out. They may also need to explain what they’re doing as they go along, which may be required if their actions seem a little foreign or if their purpose is unclear, or you may choose for them to verbalize what they’re doing as speaking practice.
Similarly, if the project involved a story, the students might be able to act it out.
A Q&A session can be combined with any of the other presentation methods. Allow five minutes or so for the audience to ask the presenter questions. This is a good way to keep the non-presenting students engaged and see what they’ve learned. It’s also a way to see whether the presenters have just memorized surface-level facts or if they have a deeper understanding of their topic. That doesn’t mean they need a solid answer to every question; it’s okay for them to say, “I don’t know.” Ideally, the questions would expand upon what was already presented, not veer off onto related topics.