Thursday, January 30, 2014

Discovery Quests

This year I continued a practice that I used with my team teacher back in Ohio. We had the students prepare a presentation once a month called a "Discovery Quest." My teammate had originally found the idea from somebody else online and he tweaked it to make it work for our classroom. I loved the concept so much that I tweaked it once again in order to make it work for my new classroom. 

Discovery Quests are oral presentations that allow students to learn public speaking skills and independent research skills.  The concept is pretty simple, the students choose from a list of about 4 topics each month to create an oral presentation. If the topics do not interest them, they may choose a current event to present, but it must be pre-approved by the teacher and be educational.  The students are assigned a certain Friday each month and they must be prepared on that day. 

The guidelines are as follows...

Your Discovery Quest presentation should be 2 to 5 minutes long.

You may have note cards to read, but you should not prepare a paper and read directly from the paper.  Make sure that you relay the information in your own words, not something that was printed from the computer.

If you have prepared a powerpoint or a technology piece, you have to be prepared to present your information if the technology fails. You many not read directly from the powerpoint or other technology piece. 

You should speak in a loud, clear, confident voice, and make eye contact with your audience on a regular basis.  You should look like you are interested in your topic.

You speech should be organized, well prepared, and stay on topic.

Be creative. 

Have a “grabber” to open your speech and a conclusion when you end.  We should know when the speech is over.

I try to align the topics to meet the state standards in social studies and science. I also include topics that allow the classmates to get to know each other on a more personal level. Some examples of topics are...

  *Discover where your name came from.  (this could be your first, middle, or last name, or even a nickname)
    *Discover the MN state flag.  Tell why it looks they way it does and what it stands for.  Include any other interesting facts.
    *Discover the design process. Describe the positive and negative impacts that the design process has had on our world. 
  *Discover a famous Minnesotan, past or present.  Tell us about him/her, his/her life, and why he/she became famous.
     *Discover veterans.  We honor veterans on Veteran’s Day, November 11. What is a veteran? Learn about it and tell the class about a veteran that you know and his or her contributions to our country.
     *Discover the word INNOVATION. Describe a situation in which one innovation led to another innovation and how it has impacted our world.
   *Discover one of the many Native American tribes in Minnesota.  Tell us all about the tribe and where they were or are located. 
    *Discover the Civil Rights Movement or one of the lesser-known people involved in the movement. Tell us about their life, how they were involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and how they have impacted our country today.  
     *Discover “Curiosity” the Mars Rover.  Tell us all about Curiosity and what it has learned about Mars.
   *Discover a famous woman in history.  Tell us about her and her life.  What did she accomplish to become famous? How did she impact our world today?
    *Discover probability.  Tell about how probability affects our daily life.
   *Discover flight. Learn about aerodynamics and how/why things fly.
     *Learn about the stock market and explain in 4th grade terms how it works. 
   *Interview someone over the age of 75 and compare and contrast how life has changed over the years. 
   *Discover Daylight Savings time and how it works? Why do we have it? Is it beneficial?

     All of these presentations require the students to use 21st Century skills. They are required to think critically, be creative with their presentation, and focus on the skill of communication.  The students have been very creative with creating PowerPoints, Google Presentations, Glogsters, and other technological savvy presentations. They have learned how to put less words on a slide, use bullet points, not read straight from the Smartboard, look at the audience, and to be prepared for anything that could happen. 

    I share with my students this scenario...that if I have a roomful of parents sitting in my classroom watching my curriculum night presentation and my PowerPoint presentation fails or my Smartboard projector bulb burns out...that I still need to be responsible for relaying the information to all of the parents. I can't just stop and ask them to come back next week. It is important to be prepared for anything that could happen!  It is now January and they are grasping this concept and have shown tremendous growth with their presentations. I am anxious to see how they continue to develop and flourish. 

    If you would like a copy of the Discovery Quest questions or the Discovery Quest rubric, leave me a comment with your email and I will gladly send it to you. 

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