Classroom presentations with Google Drive

Every day, I spend a few minutes skimming the headlines on sites like The Guardian and the BBC, Mashable and BuzzFeed, on the lookout for great material for class.

I'm looking for things like this, on topics I think will appeal to learners:

Sometimes I find articles for learners to read, sometimes it's great videos for class, but things like that Guardian article lend themselves to "brainstorming and presenting" activities.

Because it's a real-life task that faces lots of adults today — even if it's only an informal 30-second "presentation" to your boss, with not a PowerPoint slide in sight — having your learners make presentations to the class makes a great activity. If you make creating and giving the presentation collaborative — with learners creating and giving the presentation in pairs or small groups, in other words — it's also a great language learning task.

With the video game guide, above, I'd recommend not going anywhere near the article, at least initially, and having the learners (1) brainstorm the sort of questions it would cover (i.e. what games to begin with…); (2) agree on the content; (3) order it; (4) assign roles (including who is going to talk and who is going to create the digital presentation); and (5) have a first rehearsal of the presentation — and all of that in class, without necessarily going anywhere near a computer.

I like to suggest a choice of tools to learners (see below), rather than imposing one on them, but Google Drive presentations (now known as Google Slides) are so easy to share and collaborate on — not to mention the possibility of real-time chat inside the document.

Depending on the technology available, and the time, the actual creation of the presentation can be done outside classroom time — which will also depend on your learners' access to technology and their willingness to do homework 😉 !

Here's another "brainstorm and present" activity which I described at our ELT Conference last month:

See this previous post for full details.

Alternatives to Google Drive
Your learners could use PowerPoint — but they don't get the amazing sharing options; and they'll love Prezi, especially if they've never seen it before — but I think time tends to get wasted on the zooming about, when it should really have been spent on using language.

See also: Tips for class presentations given by learners

Help Get started with Google Slides | Video tutorials

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  1. Hi Tom! I was wondering if you were familiar with PechaKucha (20 images x 20 seconds) Apart from having tons of interesting content on a wide range of topics, I believe the concept can be easily applied to students' self-made presentations, making them more concise.

  2. Thanks for that suggestion, Vanesa.

    Yes, I am familiar with it, but have never tried it in language classes. I actually have my doubts about it as a format — it's fun, certainly, but while I like the idea of limiting the amount of speaking a presenter can do, don't like the idea of HAVING to speak for 20 secs on each slide (OK, yes, you can ignore them a little).

    As a serious format, I'd rather have a kind of PechaKucha Light (maybe it exists already), with a max of (say) 6 minutes, 18 slides, but no other restrictions…

    A fun format, though, whatever the restrictions, to lighten up after much longer, possibly much more boring presentations, at formal conferences.

    In language classes, with non-native speakers, I think the format puts way too much pressure on them, for little or no linguistic gain. Again, could be fun, but from the language teacher's point of view, I can't see any other benefit.

    With language learners, packing what you have to say into — say — 3 minutes, 3 slides and as long as you want on each is, I think, sufficient.

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