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The hands-off approach to student presentations: Gallery walks in intermediate language classes

Thursday, November 12


Student presentations done in class, a staple in any language classroom, are often taxing for all involved: the presenter, their peers, and the instructor. Public speaking is already challenging enough in one's native language, let alone in another, so in Intermediate Italian classes at the University of Michigan, with the help and support of the LRC, we have come up with a way of doing presentations in the form of a gallery walk. Four times a semester, a handful of students present in small rooms (or online on Blue Jeans) and host groups of 3-4 students as they travel from one presenter's "room" to another. These presentations are recorded automatically either on Blue Jeans or in person on an Ipad and the instructor is simply there to help them keep time and watches the presentations later. After three years of doing presentations this way, we have discovered that students report much less stress when presenting, are allowed to make mistakes and recover from them (as they choose which presentation the instructor grades), and actually enjoy engaging with their peers in this way.

About the Discussant:

Janaya Lasker-Ferretti, Ph.D., Lecturer III of Italian, Coordinator for Italian 231 & 232, Department Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan.