After a good five weeks of research and preparation, I was able to present to the school, once to the Grade 9 and 10 students on Monday, April 1st and then to the Grade 11 and 12’s on Tuesday, April 2nd during the 15 minute Advisory period in the school auditorium about using smartphones responsibly. The presentations lasted right around the 15 minutes I had planned for them and were well received, for the most part. I will discuss changes from the first presentation to the second, little details that had to be organized and my perception of the success of the presentation in this blog post.
Prior to the presentation, I had to book the auditorium, discuss my intentions with the music and drama teacher, get permission from the principal, email all advisory teachers, complete my research and the slideshow, review my speaker notes, organize videographers (I used one DSLR and two ipads with my advisory students as volunteers), set up the projector and a sound volunteer and get all the students to the auditorium to start the presentation on two separate days. It was a myriad of little organizational details, but as I know from larger building projects, the details matter significantly. It took a surprising amount of time to get the grade 9 and 10 students into the auditorium and settled for the first presentation, as there was more of them (about 350) and they tended to linger and not sit to get ready to listen, despite instructions on the microphone and by volunteers. This caused the presentation to creep into break and period 2, thus losing some engagement of the audience, especially with the younger grades. The older grades were much better at settling in the second day, due to less students entering and their ability to self-organize.
The two presentations went reasonably well, but the second was much better than the first due to the maturity of the audience and no technical issues, as the audio output from my computer did not work for the first presentation, so I had to narrate the videos that I had included in the sideshow! You would think I should have tested the audio which I had done the week before, Friday, but I was unable to on Monday morning due to a Math test I was administering, access to the auditorium and my sound volunteer being unavailable. So right near the beginning of the first presentation, just crackles for sound on the computer (aaargghhh!), luckily the microphone worked and I was able to narrate and navigate the presentation as best was possible. The 9’s and 10’s were not wonderfully attentive for the whole presentation. The next day for the second presentation almost everything went smoothly (one video link was broken). I also changed the background of the slideshow from dark to light for better visibility and thus had to re-edit font colours for the whole slideshow between the presentations. This made the screen much easier to see, another lesson learned, as the lighting in the auditorium was not very adjustable without making the whole space dark! I gave my videographers some better instructions and was very happy with the engagement of the audience and the presentation I gave to the grade 11 and 12 students. This crowd seemed attentive, interested and I believe the presentation started many good conversations to increase awareness around the issue of smartphones in schools and life. I will be gathering feedback from the students and staff about the presentation in the next few days with Google forms, but the informal conversations and feedback I have had with staff and students has been positive. I even had a student in the hallway, say to me “phone usage!” as I was walking and putting a reminder into my calendar, so I guess even the most aware of us aren’t always perfect digital citizens!
I am now left to edit the videos, get feedback, compile my research notes and bibliography, and do my reflection to complete the major project for this course. Although it seems like a fair amount of work to complete in the next week or so, I am very happy to have accomplished what I set out to do with developing a slideshow and presenting to the student body, and it went pretty well, not perfect, but nothing ever does. Now just to compile, reflect and organize the whole project to be handed in, and lastly, to then continue to influence students and my children towards responsible use of technology to make them happier and more productive in life and in school. Creating change is never easy, and usually a large amount of work, but I hope it affects some change in the school culture as was my goal from the start.
This is my last blog for this course so thanks to all for reading as I have been inspired and learned much from all of your posts!