Wednesday, May 20, 2015

pecha-kucha: day 2

My nineteen Wednesday students did their pecha-kuchas today. Many got penalized for manually advancing their slides: one of the fundamental aspects of a pecha-kucha is that you have to set your slides to auto-advance, then time the content of your presentation to match the content of the slides. Manually advancing the slides allows you to slack off on the discipline needed for a well-timed spiel—not to mention the fact that you'll likely go too long or too short, instead of the prescribed 400 seconds (a standard pecha-kucha uses 20 PowerPoint slides, auto-advancing at 20 seconds per slide).

Today's students were fairly lackluster compared to yesterday's group. Yesterday's class had its boring presenters as well, but there were also some really good presentations, including the incredible one I'd mentioned in a previous post. Today, almost nobody stood out, except for one guy who really doesn't belong in a Level 1 class: he talked blazingly fast (his classmates missed two-thirds of his witticisms), and his presentation was energetic, but he also had a strong accent that occasionally made him difficult even for me to understand. One or two other students did a surprisingly good job, but they were still fairly subdued.

We also had some tech glitches, today, that caused the entire class to run about eight minutes overtime. One student, for some reason, chose to do her presentation as some sort of PowerPoint-compatible file. When she tried to open it on the classroom's podium computer, she found herself unable to: that class computer didn't have the app she had used. Time was wasted as she and several other students desperately tried to figure out how to convert or export her file such that PowerPoint could open it. I shook my head; some kids obviously haven't learned that they need to work out all technical glitches well in advance of giving a presentation. Another student lost her head during her presentation: her spiel began to diverge from her slides as her timing got worse and worse, to the point where she had to stop, go back a few frames, and start over instead of ad-libbing her way out of the situation.

Monday wasn't so bad: sitting through fifteen presentations was all right, especially since I gave a ten-minute break about halfway through. Today, with nineteen students, the day began to feel like a slog. Tomorrow, I've got two classes of nineteen kids each, so this is going to be especially painful. Thirty-eight pecha-fuckin'-kuchas... God help me.

The one bright side to today's class was that the pecha-kucha grades did erode the ridiculous number of "A"s—that, and I finally docked participation points from some of my chronic whisperers and sneaky cell-phone users. I think the Wednesday class might actually finish the semester inside the curve, which would be nice, at least inasmuch as fitting inside the curve is less of an administrative pain in the ass for me.


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