This past Thursday I stepped out of my comfort zone. I did an Ignite presentation. Public speaking is not even close to a fear of mine, but the fear was more because for an audience I am used to and a format I am used to (I’m slightly long winded). For those who are not familiar with Ignite presos they have a 5 minute limit, you have 20 slides, 15 seconds each. You choose a topic and go! So the speed of it makes it so much more fun. Even more fun are the interesting topics people choose. Not your typical presentations, more campy or community centered. You can find more explanations of Ignite here and here.

I had a blast Thursday. I was totally nervous before getting on stage, but once up there it was such a blast! Not only because I was doing something I like (talking on stage, don’t tell anyone, I’m a huge ham!) but on a topic I really enjoyed and thought was fun. It had nothing to do with my job or my everyday chores & struggles. Just something I think is fun. (You will have to go to the Ignite BHM site to find out topic, little too “play on words” for my professional education blog, ha!)

So this whole experience got me thinking. Why do we not give students a chance to share things they find fun? Why does everything have to be so serious? How powerful would it be to allow students to share their passions or hobbies? Ever since I went to my first Ignite I have wondered if it would be a good idea to do with my middle schoolers. I think some of them would blow it out of the water. I think it would be great to find out what students are “experts” on and see them share it.

I don’t think I could have it planned this year, but next year for sure!

If this is your thing, find an Ignite near you and give it a try!

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz Davis says:

    I just attended my first Ignite and it was a lot of fun. (I
    just blogged about it too.) I have decided I am definitely going to
    try to give a talk the next time Ignite comes to Boston. I also
    feel like this is a skill that kids need to have. I’m going to try
    working with my English teachers to encourage them to make an
    Ignite type assignment. We currently run poetry and speech
    competitions. I would like to add an Ignite competition into the
    mix. I know these aren’t traditionally competitions, but I work at
    a boy’s school and the competition angle really does work

  2. Tim says:

    I am working on some lessons using this method for the students to present their final projects. I never thought about having a “free for all” where they present anything of interest to them. Thanks for the idea. We’l all learn a little bit more about each other with that type presentation.

  3. dunsiger says:

    What a great post, Amanda! I think that you may have just inspired me to try something new too. In June, my Grade 1 and 2 students have to memorize and present a poem for a Poetry Assembly, and it’s usually really hard for them. I try to give them lots of public speaking opportunities first, but it takes practice. Maybe I’ll try an ignite presentation with them. Students could find photographs on a topic that interests them, make a simple slideshow, and then give this presentation format a try. Hmmm … you have me thinking! Thanks Amanda!


  4. Jeff Richardson says:

    I could totally see this as being a great opportunity for middle schoolers and you are right…some of them would blow it out of the water. Just imagine giving them a chance to share on a topic THEY CHOOSE, no pressure, no grade, just an opportunity to speak about something that’s important to them. If anyone could pull it of, you could! I haven’t been to an Ignite but saw 3 presenters at Educon do this very thing…5 mins, 15 sec/slide. Was very entertaining and engaging. What more could you want in a middle school class?!

  5. Well, the first time I went to post this it ate it. Try again….I gave an IGNITE talk a year ago and had a similar experience. Our students present at the end of each of their projects which means some give between 50 and 60 oral presentations each year. To mix it up some teachers are having their classes present in this style and, as far as I can tell, the students like it.

  6. Nanci Scarpulla says:

    I could back this up 100%. Looking back (25+) years ago, I can see that drama and dance classes did more to prepare me for real life job applications than some other required classes. Sure, the nerves were there but being able to stand before people and speak clearly with assurance has paid off as an adult. It really was not until college that I practiced so much but even before entering college, my optional/elective classes in middle and high school gave me more of a benefit to excel in college.
    You bring such a great point. It is never too early to build confidence and promote representation in front of others.
    By the way, anyone who can represent hose in a way that I heard on Thursday night, can represent me any day!

    1. amandacdykes says:

      Thanks everyone for ideas! Glad so many are already doing this!

  7. Amanda, I am sure that you have the answer you were searching for by this point. It is clear that you are ahead of most teachers in your attempt at placing a grade on blogs. I suggest you take a current rubric as a guide; write down what is important to learn from this lesson; categorize what you would consider acceptable into a self developed rubric; and create a score for each level you develop. You will have to lead in this area because it is not well documented. Keep up the good work with student blogging and maybe you will be the person that leads our nation’s educators to a rubric for student blogs. Eventually we will catch up to where you already are.

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