Preparing Students for the End-of-Term Presentation
I am a San Marino High School (CA) social studies teacher and for the past several years I have increasingly required my US Government students to think critically by engaging in a semester-long group project that culminates with an end-of term-presentation.
End-of-term presentations last 10 minutes. Students are required to describe their semester long project during the first five minutes of the presentation and to answer a number of follow-up questions during the last five minutes.
The first five minutes, I call the “scripted segment of the presentation” and the last five minutes I call the “Q&A segment of the presentation.”
To prepare my students for the scripted segment of the presentation, I first require the students to produce a script. This script must:
- Begin with an introduction worded as follows: “Good morning; my name is (insert first and last name) to my left is (insert first and last name) and to my right is (insert first and last name). The topic of our presentation is (insert title of presentation).”
- Give each group member a speaking part, though I do not require all group members to speak for the same amount of time. In fact, I actually encourage the group’s better public speakers to take center stage.
- End with a (45 second maximum) conclusion.
I also require the students to create a slideshow presentation to coincide with their script. Slideshow presentations must:
- Be created on Google Docs (or some other web-based presentation program that allows students to create and edit their presentation online, in real time, and collaboratively.)
- Contain a title page, followed by a table of contents, various slides relating back to the table of contents, and a final slide entitled “Conclusion.” The last item listed in the table of contents must also be the word “Conclusion.”
- Have portions of the previously drafted script copy/pasted to the box beneath the corresponding slide.
- Adhere to the 7x7 rule; with no more than 7 lines to a slide and no more than 7 words to a line.
- Include various digital images (still shot or video) which should feature the students engaging in actions relevant to their semester-long project (for example, if the students state that while working on the project they interviewed a local politician, they are required to include a digital image verifying this claim.)
- Display all digital images (whether still shot or video) in full screen mode.
The students are required to share their Google Docs slide show presentation with me several days before their scheduled presentation date.
The students should also rehearse their presentation at least once before the class. This allows the students a chance to work on their timing and delivery methods and practice proper use of the remote control.
In addition, the students need to prepare for the Q&A segment of the presentation, devoting an entire 55-minute class period "predicting" the potential follow-up questions they may encounter. From there they will:
- Draft a no-more-than thirty second response to each of the predicted follow-up questions.
- Practice giving the scripted response to their classmates.
- Repeat steps #1 and #2 for any follow-up questions their classmates ask.
I then make suggestions as to what the students should do if:
- No follow-up questions are asked; or there's a lull in the questioning
- A follow-up question the students have prepped for has not been asked
- A follow-up question is asked for which the students don't have an answer
- A loaded question is asked (a difficult question)
On presentation day, the students are required to give their presentation to a panel of three or more adults. To learn how I get adults to serve on this panel, see
Minutes before beginning the presentation, I require the students to present the panelists with:
- An “annotated bibliography” defined as a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the panelists of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.
- Any/all handouts containing information that is relevant to the presentation but goes well beyond the 7x7 rule and therefore should not be included in the slideshow.
Other than requiring students to do what appears above, I also strongly encourage the students to:
- Insert additional technology (homemade video clip, youtube.com clip, audio clip, etc.) into their slide show presentation.
- Include survey results (whether from a student-generated survey or one made by professionals) in their presentation.
- Wear professional attire (dress pants, a long-sleeved dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes or dresses, suits, skirts and blouses, sweaters, or jackets, with dresses and skirts no more than two inches above the knee and no slits in skirts and dresses! I emphasize that his means no tennis shoes or casual sandals, no knit pants, denim, jeans, short skirts, ragged jeans, tank tops, or t-shirts, no sun dresses, bareback, sleeveless tops, strapless tops or dresses, or low necklines, no tight fitting sweaters or see-through clothing of any kind, and no casual shoes or cowboy boots.
- Avoid reading off note cards and/or directly from the slide.
- Stand when speaking and don’t fidget when others are speaking.
- Give students within the group who struggle with public speaking no more than five sentences - though make sure that what these students say is remarkable and/or memorable.
- When transitioning from one speaker to the next, say “. . . and now to talk about (x), I’m going to hand this to (insert first name of student scheduled to speak next). Note: the word “this” refers to the presentation remote control.
- Work to make the conclusion remarkable and/or memorable. After the conclusion, the panelists should want to applaud, cheer, and/or offer up a very supportive smile.
- Pause for at least two full seconds after having given the closing remarks, and then say “so with that having been said, we’re now open to any/all questions.”
- Say (at the end of the Q&A segment): “Oh I’m so sorry. The buzzer indicated that we have run out of time – on behalf of all of us standing before you today, I want to thank you very much for not only having listened to our presentation but also for having asked a number of great follow-up questions.”
Do all the above and your panelists just might walk away from the presentation saying to you, as one of my panelists recently said to me, “presentations structured like this are far better than any student presentations I’ve ever seen.”
And even if that is overstating the case a bit, if you structure your end-of-term presentations as described above, no panelist will ever walk away saying “Oh boy, yet another bunch of drawn-out, boring, lifeless student-generated slide show presentations. I feel so badly for the kids.”
I look forward to hearing from the Edutopia community on any/all suggestions you might have on how make these end-of-term presentations even better.
For a detailed description of the semester long project mentioned in the first sentence of this article, see
To see a model end-of-term slideshow presentation entitled Hobby Drones and an accompanying script, see
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.