Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Studying Slide Design: Learning from #EdcampKids

We started with our own version of #EdCampKids in later March.  So far, we've had 4 EdcampKids sessions where kids attend 4 workshops each time. Every single child in my class has presented something--it is always a choice but everyone loves to share things they know.  We are in an animal slideshow stage right now--probably because so much nonfiction they are reading is about animals.  They seem a bit obsessed with animals and slideshows but we also have workshops on Origami, science experiments, and building and we have children who choose to create posters or use non-tech visuals. The conversations around audience and purpose have been amazing.

The teaching that comes out of #EdcampKids is incredible. Every time, there are so many things that happen that fall into our learning the following week.  We started this late in the year to see how it went but I can imagine that next year, the possibilities for teaching from what happens each session will have a huge impact on our writing workshops.  One of my favorite conversations happened a few weeks ago when a student very kindly shared how distracting it was as an audience member when a word was misspelled on a slide.  Such a natural way to bring up the importance of editing when you are publishing in this way.

Last week, during writing conferences, I met with several students about slide design. I am noticing from afar that the sophistication of slide designs--the choices that writers make when deciding how to design slides--is really changing.  There is a great deal of intentionality in the slide design and I wanted to capture a few that we could study. I met with several students who had recently completed a Google Slideshow to share during Edcamp and they chose a slide that they were especially proud of.

It is easy to start to worry about the traditional things we think are important---because students are not citing sources or the wording often sounds too fact based instead of synthesizing what they know. But in this process, I feel like I've gotten back to the true feel of the writing workshop.   I remember these are eight year olds who are learning to share their new learning with others. They are thinking hard about audience and purpose and how to share their new passions with peers. They are learning to combine images and text in unique ways.  They are learning to navigate sophisticated tools and collaborate with others in the process. I am reminded of all I learned from Troy Hicks The Digital Writing Workshop and Crafting Digital Writing every day as I listen into kids' thinking during writing. I am looking forward to revising both of those amazing books this summer as I plan for another year of digital writing workshop.

So in the coming weeks, some of our mini lesson work will focus on slide design (which transfers to pretty much any nonfiction writing design). We will use these slides to begin our conversation and to look closely at decisions third grade writers have made.  Since all of the kids have participated in EdcampKids as both presenter and audience member, I expect these conversations to be powerful.

You can find the padlet here.


  1. This is an important 21st Century skill, and you are introducing it at a very young age. Design is growing in this digital world. The kids are watching and paying attention.

  2. Our kids rock!! Such smart and fun thinking for them to reflect on after a year of creating in Google slides.


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