What is a Micro-Symposium?

The opportunity to give every one of your 30 students the opportunity to give a 4 minute presentation 3 times in one class period.

How does a Micro-Symposium work?

  1. Students develop a 3-4 minute presentation of a product they have created or a re-teaching of an individually difficult concept or standard.
  2. While students are working, I touch base with all of them and record all the topics.  I then break them into 3 diverse topic rotations (to limit the amount of repetition per rotation).
  3. Rotation 1 presenters get 2 minutes to set up around the room while I have the rest of class partner up.
  4. Each partnership goes to a presenter of their choosing for the first 4 minute “session.”
  5. After the first session is complete, give audience groups 30 seconds to report to their next session and begin again.  Repeat for session 3.
  6. After 3 sessions are complete, it is time to rotate out your presenters – they get 2 minutes while you again break up the new audience groups into pairs to rotate through the 3 sessions.  Repeat the whole process for rotation 3.
  7. Each rotation takes exactly 15 minutes (3 x 4 minute sessions + 2 x 30 seconds rotation +2 minute set-up).

Benefits of the Micro-Symposium

  • Every student gets to present in 45 minutes (as opposed to 30 students x 4 minutes each + 1 minute setup = 150 minutes or 2.5 hours or 3+ class periods).
  • Students are working on something that is individually challenging to them (and hopefully interesting!)
  • Students get the chance to improve each time they present.
  • Less impact of stage fright.  Students are presenting to only 2 others at once – and know that the people they are presenting to just did or will soon present.
  • Audience engagment is high. Students are moving in between each presentation, and there is an element of choice of who they are going to see.

How I choose to use the Micro-Symposium

  • This tends to be a review before the test – or an opportunity to re-teach.
  • I don’t grade these.  I give feedback while they are developing their presentations when I check-in.  I watch for anyone struggling during the first session and quickly give suggestions before their next session.
  •  To ensure that I can get through all three in my 46 minute class period, I give all the instructions and do a session run-through the day before.
  • I have the rule that there is no doubling up – groups are instructed that only 1 partnership audience per presenter and you can’t visit more than once.
  • If there is focus or respect issues that occur when specific personalities are together, I impose a requirement to not be in the same group as audience or presenter.
  • I use class time for developing these, usually 2 class periods.  The time I gain back from not needing to devote 3 or 4 days to presenting makes this possible and respects student time outside of my classroom.  It also gives me the opportunity to check-in throughout the process so I can hold them accountable without needing to “grade” it.
  • Noise.  It will be loud – but it will be a productive loud!microsymposiumfloorplan

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