Having students present with social studies projects has many benefits. Of course, students learn a topic and share it with their classmates. But it can be much more than that.
When I was a student myself, one of my greatest challenges was speaking in front of people. I use to have to read one line of a bible verse in class and I spent the whole time counting how many students in front of me, so I knew which verse I had to practice in order to not mess up and embarrass myself.
So, when I became a teacher, I made it a point to have all of my students present in class several times a year. I have even encouraged second language students to present when they had limited English language skills. Priscilla, a student I had as an 8th grader, was fearful of presenting when she first came to this country and I actually stood with her while she presented for the first time. Over time, she increased her confidence and was able to do it on her own. She later visited me when she went to high school and thanked me for helping her overcome her fear.
Presenting gives students opportunities to learn and practice public speaking skills. They learn to speak loudly, clearly, and slow enough so everyone understands what they are saying. Students also use skills in reading and writing, when preparing their presentation, and listening skills while watching others present. Students also have to discern what is important to share and do it in the time allotted.
Although I do have my kiddos present during other subjects, I especially like them to present in social studies. I have encouraged my students to dress as people they are studying or demonstrate an activity from the time period they are discussing. I feel this makes history come alive for the class. They are more engaged and it makes the studying history topics more fun. Finally, it allows students to explore their creativity skills in their clothing, props, slide shows, posters, etc.
Currently with my 4th and 5th graders, students are doing Colonial Job presentations and a Wax Museum. We just finished the Colonial Job presentations last week with the 5th graders. Students came dressed as a person from Colonial Times and were required to have a sign, a prepared speech on their trade, and incorporate props or tools. We set up in the auditorium and invited other classes to come and here our presentations. Having an audience really gives a purpose to learning the information.
My 4th graders are preparing a presentation for the Wax Museum for the end of the year in a few weeks. They are studying someone who was influential to California history. Students will have a backdrop that they will be in front of as the “real person”. Then when someone comes up to one of my student’s display, he will push the button, and my student will come to life and tell about the person they are portraying. It was a great success last year and I can’t wait to see how well it goes this year.
Although, social studies is my favorite subject to do presentations, all subject areas can utilize them. The point is to get students up in front of their classmates. Presenting is one of those life skills that students need to develop. Look at me – who would of thought that shy, fearful student who hated to read one sentence in front of people, spends everyday reading aloud, talking, and teaching in front of a class.
Thanks for stopping in and reading my blog. Next week I will be going down memory lane with something I did with students in the past!