Welcome to Core Connections, a blog by Success at the Core. You'll find stories of best practices, inspiring experiences, and effective strategies related to leadership development, classroom instruction, and student engagement.

Presentation Assessment Best Practices

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Andrew K. Miller is a guest blogger for Success at the Core. Miller (@betamiller on Twitter) is on the National Faculty for the Buck Institute for Education, an organization specializing in 21st century project-based learning, as well as for ASCD, providing expertise in a variety of professional development needs. He is also a regular blogger for Edutopia.

As you unpack the Common Core Standards, one trend you will notice is that of Presentation. A valuable 21st century skill, we want our students to leave our classrooms with effective presentation skills. In addition, the Common Core literacy strategies are to be used across content areas. It is every teacher’s job to support students in learning valuable presentation skills, and assessing their work.

However, not every teacher has truly taught assessed presentations before. Many teachers use presentations as assessment tools, but often the focus is on the content and not the skills of presenting, or the assessment is muddled where both the skills and content are “lumped” into a category. As all teachers engage in teaching and assessing presentations, they must adhere to some best practices.

Effective Rubrics  As mentioned in this video, rubrics must be used throughout the process of teaching and assessing presentations. Students must use rubrics to internalize the language, and to self- and peer-assess their progress. These rubrics must be designed so that students understand what is expected of them and thus must be student-friendly in terms of language. Learning targets should be dis-aggregated so that science content, for example, is not confused with presentation skills.

Quality Summative Assessment  One of my favorite types of summative presentations is the Ignite presentation. In it, students have 10-15 slides that automatically transition after one minute or so. The slides have very few words, and are usually a series of images. Because of this, students must be well prepared to speak and appropriately pace their ideas, as they cannot rely on the PowerPoint slides as a “crutch.” This can lead to a quality presentation that avoids the monotone a traditional PowerPoint presentation can become.

Ongoing Formative Assessment – One shot is not enough: students must be given multiple opportunities to revise and reflect on their presentation skills. If students are to be successful at the Ignite presentation above, they must receive targeted feedback on many pieces of their presentations. Choice of images, speaking tone, pacing, volume; all of these must be formatively assessed multiple times before it is time for the summative presentation. This will ensure that the work students do is manageable and purposeful. Students learn to rely on the process of learning and avoid the fear of failing.

Obviously, there are further best practices teachers must adhere to when it comes to teaching 21st century skills, such as scaffolding and modeling. These best practices can also be transferred to other learning targets. Presentation skills must be taught and assessed to ensure career and college readiness for our students.


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2 Responses to Presentation Assessment Best Practices

  1. Beth Ashley says:

    At one time, I taught in a junior high school that was a member of the Coalition of Essential Schools. As a staff, we decided that the ELA department would teach and assess presentation skills. Then as students gave presentations in other curricular areas, teachers of those classes used the same rubrics for student self- assessment and teacher assessment in addition to rubrics specific to their content. This form of collaboration proved to be highly successful for our students. Everyone knew what excellent presentation skills looked like, and our kids cemented the skills!

  2. Corrie Freiwaldt says:

    Presentation skills are also very necessary for the upcoming (Next Generation Science Standards) Science and Engineering Practices. We can’t expect students to only present on their science fair projects while they are in their elementary school career. They should be presenting in every content area multiple times each year. Starting young will build this confidence so when the age comes where they actually care what others think of them, they’ll have nothing to be worried about.

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