This year I wanted to breathe some new life into student presentations. Students have become adept at using PowerPoint or Google Slides and I wanted to add variety and challenge their creativity by using some old tech in the classroom- the classic poster presentation. My aim was to create visually appealing poster presentations that would engage viewers and be educational but not loaded with text.
I decided to test a new approach to student presentations in my Civics class. In Civics we look at democracy and dictatorship. After introducing the basics I ask groups of students to research and then present on a modern day dictatorship. Typically these presentations last around 10 minutes each and the group include a poster for display on the Wall of Shame (my twist on a Hall of Fame). The poster is designed to summarize the main points from research and enrich the oral presentation- I want to move students away from printing screeds of text directly from the internet which they then read during the oral presentation and glue onto their physical presentation.
When students have been presented with this challenge in previous years, an unwanted consequence is often that while we get visually appealing posters, they lack information and therefore lose value for display purposes. Another drawback I have encountered with poster creation is that we are frequently limited by a lack of physical resources: coloured card, glue, printer access, etc.
The dilemma then was to find a way of creating engaging presentations with high value for classroom display that were not heavily reliant on physical resources.
Quick Response (QR) codes offer an effective solution to this problem. A QR code is a digitally generated symbol similar to a barcode which, when scanned by a QR reader on a mobile phone or tablet, will take the viewer to online content which supplements the printed material. There are a variety of free QR code generators and readers available as apps or add ons.
My students were instructed to include a QR code to enhance their posters and, if possible, link this to online material they had created themselves. The end result was a visually appealing poster presentation (The Wall of Shame) – light on text, which included QR codes that would take the reader to
additional material: YouTube clips of students providing more information on their subjects, documentaries used in research and even audio files such as national anthems.
QR codes have been around for some time and their applications are many. They can be used on scavenger hunts to reveal clues, they can be added to art displays to reveal more about the artist and their composition. Recently cemeteries have even introduced them to grave stones to tell people more about the dearly departed.
I will certainly continue to use QR codes in the classroom and would be interested to hear the innovative ways other teachers are using to get more out of student presentations.