A lesson in research and presentation skills
Children can learn so much when they are given the chance to follow their natural curiosity and delve deeper into a topic of special interest to them, argues Clemency Stimpfig from St Benedict’s Junior School. Learning to research, think critically, communicate persuasively, build confidence and inspire others, are just some of the benefits.
Artificial Intelligence, Victorian Foundlings, Plastic Oceans, The Galapagos Islands and Women who influenced the World are just a few of the topics enthusiastically researched and presented by some of our Junior School pupils in recent years. Children aged 7 to 11 can research a topic of interest to them and give a presentation to pupils, parents and teachers.
They develop the confidence and skills needed for public speaking and presentation.
They do this through an initiative devised five years ago at St Benedict’s known as the School Challenge Quest, which is intended to inspire and enthuse children who want take their knowledge about a chosen subject that little bit further. The SCQ is an after-school activity allowing children to learn to research and compile interesting presentations, which are given to an audience at the end of each term.
Children plunge themselves into an area of research that inspires them, thinking beyond what they have learned, and give presentations not just to inform but to inspire, demonstrate and persuade.
Each presentation must demonstrate independent research, critical thinking skills, ICT ability, imagination, passion and enthusiasm. Having completed their research, childrenprepare their presentations by structuring what they wish to say, creating a power point presentation while selecting and using the appropriate visual aids. They learn to use their voices and body language as tools to communicate effectively with their audience, thinking about projection, intonation, emphasis and pacing. Children as young as 7 years of age, for example, have been known to present to an audience and then require feedback in the form of a discussion or a question-and-answer session.
Each presentation must demonstrate independent research, critical thinking skills, ICT ability, imagination, passion and enthusiasm.
The SCQ is always introduced, overseen and managed by a Junior School pupil acting as Master or Mistress of Ceremonies; this is invariably a child who has presented an SCQ on a previous occasion and is aware of the processes and pitfalls. The MC welcomes the audience and the adjudicator, introduces the presentations one at a time, linking them to each other and, ultimately, brings the whole event to a close – quite a skill in itself. The occasion always ends on a celebratory note with an adjudicator saying a few words and then deliberating on which award each child will receive: highly commended, bronze, silver or gold.
While this is not a task for the faint-hearted, there are many advantages to doing the SCQ. Children plunge themselves into an area of research that inspires them, thinking beyond what they have learned, and give presentations not just to inform but to inspire, demonstrate and persuade. They make judgements and predictions. They use their ICT skills to create a presentation of their own work. They rehearse it with and for each other, as well as their parents and me while learning to offer constructive criticism and advice. They develop the confidence and skills needed for public speaking and presentation. Finally, once finished, they feel proud of their efforts and achievements, knowing that they have done something special. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the SCQ is a win-win!
Mrs Clemency Stimpfig, Head of French and co-ordinator of the School Challenge Quest at St Benedict’s Junior School