BattleDecks- Presentation Ninjitsu

I found these beautiful notes from SXSW via Boing Boing where I saw Battledecks which led to this summary.

SXSW Notes via Flickr
credit Mike Rohde

Powerpoint meets Karaoke in this battle of wits. Watch your favorite speakers craft an off-the-cuff presentation using slides they’ve never seen before. Eight competitors will have five minutes to complete their presentation. Three judges will score the participants based on their use of jargon, gesturing and credibility. Who will take home the trophy and who will totally choke? Come see for yourself!

Two things came to mind for me.

1. Battledecks with your class. You set up a serious of slides that deal with your topic. Divide the class into groups and give out the deck. They’ve got X minutes to come up with the content to match the slides. Points are awarded for relevancy, creativity/entertainment, jargon etc.

For English, this could get really creative. It’d be an awesome way to do work with vocabulary words or story structure. They could pitch a story Hollywood style using as many vocabulary words as possible while working the story through the basic steps (rising action, etc). You could add difficulty by forcing genres on the students (nice way to review those elements as well).

Now, this won’t work at all if you’re giving them traditional bullet point slide decks to deal with. That will result in a massive amount of suck. You’ll get bored students giving you boring presentations and everyone will be unhappy. To do this right you’ll need creative images and it’ll probably help if you’ve been presenting to them in this style otherwise the jump may be too much.

Keep in mind you’ve got lots of ways to mix this up. You could –

  • mix the order of the slides
  • add X number of wild card slides of their own choosing
  • add wild card slides with a points penalty per addition
  • change the time for preparing up or down
  • require certain sentences/references/etc

2. Art Notes- if I’ve got students who are artistic (even just one or two) I might have them create visual versions of the class content. That might be a daily, weekly thing. It’d be interesting to see what that might do for visual learners not to mention the internalization that’d go on with the student creating the art notes.

You’ve also got something interesting to put on the wall or on the web. If you’re really impressed with them, work their drawings into your tests, reviews etc.

Comments on this post

  1. Tim said on March 19, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    I love it! Battledecks would be a great exercise to teach kids or adults how to put the emphasis into the presentation and not the slide show. Your variations are also excellent. I could see pulling ten or so random images from flickr and having students construct a presentation from them.

  2. terry said on March 20, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    “Art Notes”: have you seen the great visual my Core students did on Nietzsche ?
    http://coretest.blogspot.com/2007/10/great-visual-from-class.html
    It is a camera phone picture of a whiteboard, so the quality stinks, but I think you can get the picture, so to speak.

    I love this idea for teaching; it is a great strategy for Core. I will give it a try and let you know how it goes!

  3. Tom said on March 20, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    @Tim – good point. There are so many interesting options. I’d love to give random images and say “make a mystery story out of these” or “turn this into Old Man and the Sea” or “you now have an illustrated haiku, what are the words?”

    @Terry – That is a great image. Did you use it later for anything? It would have been interesting to give it to them blank to label or something like that.

    I would love to know how this works in Core.

  4. English Expressions said on February 2, 2012 at 4:56 am

    A blog focusing on the actual use of educational technology in real classrooms. The two authors, Jim and Tom, will be attempting to do the things they blog about here. There will be some reflection but expect lots of actual lessons and material you can use.

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