Integrator’s Tip: Action Mapping Gives a New View of Presentations

Tech integration is an interesting job. It’s equal parts psychology, tech expertise, and marketing. Right now business is light and I’m in that marketing phase, trying to find ways to get back into classrooms. When I’m in this mode I try to focus on something that I know teachers do regularly and give it a little twist.

Right now I’m marketing presentations. Not because I necessarily think they are a great learning tool- more because they have become a staple of student evidence of learning.  In my prep work I uncovered an organizational model called Action Mapping. It’s from a blog by Cathy Moore and in a nutshell it focuses on what people need to be able to DO with the knowledge they are learning rather than just WHAT they have to learn. It’s given me an interesting way to look at an old standby.

Here’s how it works:

You identify the learning goal
You identify what skills your students need to reach it
You identify why students most often fail to reach the goal (lack of knowledge, lack of skills, lack of motivation, environment)
You design learning activities that are realistic and relevant to the learning goal
You identify what your students need to know and do to successfully complete the activities.

It’s a lot like what teachers already do to create lessons, but the emphasis is more on the “doing” than on the “knowing.” I applied it to creating presentations and all of a sudden I got a completely different integration road map.

Learning goal: Show understanding of a topic or question through a particular lens provided by the teacher (or better yet, created by the student! But I digress…) in presentation form.

Skills Needed: Strategies to find appropriate information on the topic. Knowledge of connections between the information found and the essential question. Ability to read digital text. Method of taking and saving notes. Means of organizing found information. Ability to find and appropriately cite images.

Students most often fail at presentations because:  They lack content knowledge because they copied and pasted information onto slides, they lack  correct information (or enough information) because they have poor search skills, they lack skills in finding sources at the appropriate reading level,  they lack understanding of how to correctly cite sources, and/or they lack  skills in how to present information in a presentation setting.

Identify learning activities that are relevant to the goal:  Develop search strategies to find accurate sources of information, decipher text to glean needed information, organize information so that it makes sense in a presentation, use notes to supplement text on slide, use graphics to supplement information, show understanding of copyright laws by correctly citing all sources of information

What do students need to know to be able to complete the activities: effective search strategies, strategies for reading digital text, digital note-taking, information organization tools,  how to find bibliography resources, how to use public speaking tools like speaker notes.

Action mapping suggests that you do a graphic organizer to help with the planning. This, I think, is a crucial step, as it points out the many areas where integration can take place:

Click to see larger image

Click to see larger image

All of a sudden I have many more opportunities to bring technology into the classroom in a useful way. You’ll notice that there is NOTHING in there on how to use Prezi, Keynote, HaikuDeck or any of the other presentation tools available to students. Action mapping helps tease out what students REALLY need to be able to do to create a good presentation- and font size and animations don’t make the list.

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