Saturday, May 12, 2018

Teaching with Ignites

Over the last few years I have being using the Ignite Talks model with my students.

Ignite Talks are


Presenters get 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. The result is a fast and fun presentation which lasts just 5 minutes.

Ignite events are held in cities around the world.
"Enlighten us, but make it quick.? 
Why use this format with 4th and 5th graders? Why not? We talk about preparing students for the world, so why not let them use tools of the world within the classroom...

Ignite defines it more specifically as:

Ignite Talks is a fast-paced geek event started in 2006 by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis. Since the first Ignite took place in Seattle around 10 years ago, Ignite has become an international phenomenon, with Ignite events produced in Helsinki, Tunisia, Paris, New York City and over 350 other locations in between.

Ignite’s mission is “Everyone Speaks”. We believe that public speaking builds confidence in individuals and that events like Ignite build community. Our goal is to make it possible for anyone, anywhere, to learn to present their ideas and their stories.

Ignite is also about having fun, and showing that presentations don’t need to be about “death by PowerPoint”.
Their description, and tag lines, are what connected with me most in the context of why I use them with students.

  • Fast and fun. Lasts just 5 minutes - what better way to sell students on the notion of public speaking? Limited time frame designed to be fast and fun. That description helps to take away some of the fear and trepidation surrounding traditional presentations.
  • Ignite events are held in cities about the world - there is always talk in education about being authentic, creating authentic learning experiences. What is more authentic than having students follow a format that is a world-wide phenomenon?
  • "... possible for anyone, anywhere, to learn to present their ideas and their stories..." -  every learning opportunity is a story. Every project students do is a story. It is crucial students understand that their stories matter, people want to hear their stories, and people can learn from them once they are shared. A truly authentic way to share learning

Now, 5 minutes can be very long for elementary students. So we've hacked the format a bit to be more age appropriate...

  • 4th grade
    • 1:45
    • 7 slides
    • 15 seconds per slide
  • 5th grade
    • 3:00
    • 12 slides
    • 15 seconds per slide
    • with 5th grade, Ignite is a format option along with TED style talks, videos, and so forth. You can find 5th grade examples labeled "Ignite" within the CapCon! playlists from 2018, 2017, and 2016

We kept the 15 second timings on the slides because that, to us, seems to be the core of style; not lingering on any one slide or graphic too long, keeping the story moving.

We show students a lot of examples from Ignite events as well as other students from previous years.

One of the biggest things I've noticed over the years is that students tend to gravitate toward the format once they see it and understand it. Reluctant public speakers like it because they know there is a limited amount of time and the slides auto-advance so they don't have to worry about the clicking. Plus, the need to practice and rehearse gives the students plenty of opportunity to truly internalize the content and really make the presentation their own story. The students who tend to be the most reluctant speakers are the ones who love the format the most because the format lets the focus on one thing, in a finite period of time.

The more adventurous students love the format too, since it gives them an opportunity to have fun. We always want students to enjoy their projects, but with Ignite literally having "fun" in the tag line students feel empowered to enjoy the experience and create presentations that truly match their personality and learning experience.

Public speaking shouldn't be a scary prospect. Presentations shouldn't be thought of as boring. Using the Ignite format with students helps to make the concept of public speaking and presenting more approachable and enjoyable.

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