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Concordia Students Discover the Diversity and Talents of their Peers

By Carey Halula, Wes Henderson, and Michael Lambert
Concordia Students Discover the Diversity and Talents of their Peers

Concordia International School Shanghai Grade 8 students watch attentively during one of their peer’s presentations (photo: CISS).
Grade 8 students at Concordia International School Shanghai (CISS) recently conducted workshops in order to share some of their talents and passions. Students proposed and developed their topics with guidance from teachers, and presented them to an audience of their peers.
The workshops spanned a variety of topics, from how to make Tamari sushi to editing movies using sophisticated software. The outcome was not only fun and informative but an effective way to practice public speaking.
This assignment went well beyond the “teacher-centered” classroom and allowed students to engage in more innovative ways of developing their communication skills. A project such as this dovetails with Concordia’s stated aim to produce effective communicators, and encourages students to discover and share in the diverse talents of their school community.
“It is our hope that, as an entire grade level, the students are able to celebrate the diversity we have here at Concordia along with taking a chance and presenting in front of classmates,” said Grade 8 humanities teacher Carey Halula.
All level-eight students wrote proposals containing a workshop description and presenter biography. Grade 8 teacher Michael Lambert described how he guided his class through the proposal process. “We gave students direct feedback on how to write an effective course description and bio (reviewed how to write in third person), and looked at titles and talked about how they are used to attract an audience,” he explained.
Among the 105 proposals, 30 were chosen based on topic and overall development. Concordia eighth grader Kennedy David’s proposal was among those chosen. Her topic, “How to organize your locker,” was a pragmatic offering for any messy middle schooler. When asked why she chose the topic, Kennedy explained,” I have always been a neat person, and I see that others are struggling to be neat, so I decided to share it with them, hoping this will end their struggle.”
One of Mr. Lambert’s students, Yuka Ma, opted to share a celebrated cultural aspect from her home country of Japan and presented on the art of modern sushi making. In her workshop description, Yuka urged students not to “miss out on this chance to learn how to make your very own sushi, anytime, anywhere, fast and easy!”
Not only were the topics diverse, the modes for presenting them varied as well. Most students incorporated multimedia into their presentations, while others took a more demonstrative approach. Joshua Jacob’s topic on using the movie editing software Final Cut Pro required a strong audiovisual application. During his workshop, Joshua moved among his audience, advising them on their mini-movies. He proclaimed, “A person that stands at the front and reads off their PowerPoint has little impact; that is the opposite of what I wanted to do.”
Kennedy David’s workshop was decidedly more basic and definitely a hands-on experience for her audience. She explained, “ I made my locker very messy (which was really fun) and then I just demonstrated on it. All I had was a piece of paper to help me remember what I had to demonstrate next.”
No matter which method presenters used, they all aimed at keeping their audience engaged and excited by the prospects of learning something new. “To me” said Taylor Adams, a presenter from Halula’s class, “what makes a successful workshop is the interaction between the presenter and the audience. I feel that you not only want to show the people the skill, but you want them to try it, and ultimately walk away with more experience and knowledge on the subject you are teaching.”
Providing feedback to the presenters was part of the assignment, and audiences were enthusiastic and responsive. Taylor’s workshop was designed to share her beat box rhythm-making talent, and was well received by attendees. One student concluded, “In ‘Beat box Breakdown,’ Taylor spoke with confidence and had a nice slide show. I learned a beat boxing rhythm in her workshop!”
Of Yuka Ma’s sushi-making workshop, an attendee commented, “This was a great workshop, especially for those who love food and culture.” Feedback on students’ workshops from their peers gave presenters a chance to reflect and evaluate the effectiveness of their presentation skills. While Kennedy David and Yuka Ma established that confidence is key to a successful presentation, Joshua Jacobs learned that he should not worry so much about the small details.
Last but not least, Taylor Adams discovered that the best thing about having a skill or passion is sharing it with others. “That feeling is probably the biggest reward that I got out of this experience.” Sounds like a win-win.
Concordia International School Shanghai is an international, private Christian school based in Shanghai, China, founded in 1998. CISS currently caters to over 1,200 students from pre-school to Grade 12.

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05/17/2014 - AsiaEducator
These are the types of experiences that students remember and keeps them excited about school. Sounds like the grade 8 team is innovative and student focused.