Using Shared Slide Decks for Reflection and Discussion

This strategy isn’t about the tool as much as it as about the possibilities. I’ll share how I’m using it in this particular example, but also offer several iterations to jump start your own thinking.

Determining purpose. The first step in creating your own shared slide deck is a cognitive one. Here’s the question I always ask before I jump into any strategy: What do they need to learn? Once I know the answer to that question, then I can begin considering how to structure that learning. In this case, I wanted my learners to both reflect on what they’d learned and be able to share that in an online discussion. I knew they needed extended time to think before I could expect them to start talking, so I created this shared slide deck to give them the thinking and reflecting time necessary for discussion to flourish.

The slide deck. I chose Google Slides for this because it is easily shareable.

  • Consider the size of the slide deck. I rarely create a single slide deck for a group of larger than 10 when they all need to work on it at the same time. (Which means I may have multiple slide decks if I’m working with a class of 25-30+). 
  • Choose a minimal layout. When it comes to giving learners a slide to create on, I always choose one free of any pre-determined formatting (except for a place for names). Plain white backgrounds are best for giving learners a chance to imagine the slide as their own instead of conforming to any pre-determined formatting (which can get really frustrating if you’ve ever tried to work within those constraints). 
  • Use few words. We talk about using few words on the actual slide, but putting them in the speaker’s notes instead. This really helps when they are sharing during discussion because it keeps them from “reading a slide” and gets them talking about their reflection.

The prompt. I include the prompt on one of the first slides of the deck so it’s always available to the learners. In this case, it was brief and offered a lot of latitude: Use words, photos, images, whatever to represent your individual reflection of what you’ve learned and what it’s meant to you. 

Time. I give learners a good 20-25 minutes to work on their slide and get ready for discussion (if they are working on this during an online class). I could also give this as a homework assignment for either a face-to-face or online discussion. 

The discussion. I think the most important part of organizing this discussion is making sure it’s not just each person presenting. In order to help change this from a presentation to a discussion, I ask the rest of the group to look at the slide and share what they notice.  I also ask them to turn their observations into questions for the person who created the slide. This naturally allows the creator of the slide to share and respond. I also make sure creator always gets the last word and  has a chance to share anything else. 

Pulling it all together. Before  we leave the discussion, I ask each student  to share what they learned about who we are as a community of learners from the discussion. If you’re in an online platform, a chat  window is perfect for this. If you’re in a face-to-face setting, a sticky note would be perfect.

Making this your own. Reflection isn’t the only way to use this strategy. Here are some other ideas to help you start imagining how this could work for you too!

  • Have each student take a different vocabulary word.
  • Have each student take a different section or chapter of a book you’re reading.
  • Have each student take a different figure in an examination of a current event.
  • Have each student take a different concept you’ve been studying.
  • Have each student take a different perspective on an issue/idea/philosophy you’ve been studying.
  • Have students use this as a personal reflection just before parent/teacher conferences and be able to use the slide as a way to begin your conversations.
  • Your possibilities are endless! I can’t wait to see what you create (which means you’ll have to reach out to share with me too!)




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