Show & Tell for High School

Show & Tell is not just for babies! Older students are challenged to bring their ideas and creative works resulting in creative confidence.

Photo of Hannah Bailey
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If you walk into an elementary school and ask students what their favorite school activity is you will most likely hear recess or Show & Tell. Why do we think that high school seniors are any different? 

When I think back to my days of elementary, my experiences with Show & Tell bring the biggest smile. I remember my friend brought her dog in one day, a girl in my class brought her favorite doll, I even brought a Furby that the teacher banned after it would not stop squawking in my book bag! These are the things that excited us as kids and surprisingly still excite our grown students (and even us adults). Why is this?

As an experiment with this idea, I implemented Friday Current Event Time in my classroom. Student were expected to read magazines, articles, listen to NPR, ect. They were then expected to summarize and discuss the current event of their choice. Well, much to any teachers surprise, the students HATED the current event assignment and were bored (obviously). Some even protested and just did not do it. Well that's lame. Was it that they were not trying or they did not like the resources I offered? Of course not, the assignment simply lacked creativity.

Something I learned very quickly in my first year of teaching is teachers MUST be flexible and not take themselves too seriously. So, with this new found attitude and the day before current events were due, I announced "Scrap it! We're having Show & Tell from now on!" You would not believe the screams of joy I heard. "You mean, we can bring our sketchbooks!? I can talk about game design!? I can show and tell you about this new app I downloaded on my phone!?" Now, granted I do teach a digital media class, however these subjects are actually very applicable in other classrooms as well. What I discovered in this experiment is that students crave space for their individualized creativity and interests. As soon as you give that to them, their confidence levels rise and their projects and classwork become more creative and innovative. They are allowed to let their guard down by showing and telling their own ideas and stories. 

My original goal in assigning the current event assignment was to get the students to reach out and discover new technologies and ideas developing around them in the world. I wanted them to be inspired by others. The only problem was the way in which I was going about it. Believe it or not, our high schoolers are quite smart and innovative already if you just give them the space to be creative and develop. They are continually bombarded with new products and technologies resulting in the formation of new innovative and creative ideas in their minds. The Show & Tell assignment gave students a forum made up of real live humans (imagine that!). One student held up a sketch and said, "I drew this symbol because I was watching [insert animated tv show] and wanted to show how just like [insert character name] sometimes people feel good and bad at the same time." I'm thinking in my head, "Great!! That's empathy!" Another student showed a comic book project she was working on and students went around and commented on the sequencing and character development. "Great!" Another student even held a class room discussion about the marketing schemes of video game companies by means of DLC. "Great, not only is he learning about marketing but he's learning to manage and guide a debate!" And another student showed an inspiring video of a new technology that allowed for color blind individuals to see color. My favorite was the one student who spontaneously pulled up his pant-legs revealing two mismatched multicolored pineapple covered socks to explain his new favorite trend in fashion. 

In the end, my original goal was met it just took some tweaking. The students wanted space for their innovative and creative ideas to naturally form and I was able to facilitate it through Show and Tell, though it took some trial and error. From creativity comes innovation. 

Directions on how to facilitate Show & Tell for high schoolers. 

Step 1: Schedule Show & Tell on Fridays. Friday is a more relaxing day. Allot an amount of time, depending on the length of your class. I have found that about 2 - 5 minutes per student (with a small class) is good. Have Show and Tell on a schedule so students can expect it, prepare, and look forward to it. 

Step 2: Get different types of chairs to make the space less uniform and more creative. I have yoga balls and knee chairs in addition to normal classroom chairs. 

Step 3: Set the rules. Instruct the students on how to constructively criticize. Sit in a circle. No one can be left out or hog the center. Do not interrupt the presenting student. Comment once the present has completed. Everyone must share and comment. 

Step 4: The first person must volunteer themselves and 'popcorn' choose the next person. From then on the 'popcorn' cycle continues until each person has gone. (The instructor should sit in the circle with the students and add his or her own value.)

Step 5: Debrief by encouraging and thanking the students and break for the next class activity. 

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 0%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 100%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 0%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 50%

Agree. - 0%

Neutral. - 50%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 50%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 50%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 50%

Agree. - 0%

Neutral. - 50%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 50%

2 - 0%

3 - 0%

4 - 50%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Burgoyne

The creation of the rituals in routine has been done for the security of the old things for the public. The community has been visiting for the use of the opposite items for the humans. The ritual is old dated activity of the society.

Photo of Alexandrea Alphonso

Hi Hannah, Drea here with our Google for Education team. Love this idea of embracing innovation, creativity, and individuality among students. My feedback is on par with Carolyn Wendell. Curious to know if you've tried the step by step plan in your own classroom? Did you need buy in from your principal? Have other teachers at your school been inspired to implement show & tell? What time of support would a teacher need to make this happen at another district?

Photo of James Campbell

Good Morning Hannah
My name is James Campbell and I am one of the Teacher Guild Coaches. Show & Tell for High School is a wonderful idea and we would like to see it developed during the Evolve stage. I would like to partner with you and see if we can prototype and share your ideas over the next two weeks. So I am asking team up with you and I would like to recommend Rebecca Hare as an additional partner. Lets connect!

Photo of Kali Kurdy

I love this idea. As a classroom teacher of mostly juniors and seniors in high school, I remember that they love to share their ideas and challenges. It has to be safe, though. Some classes can't pull it off because there is a bully(ies). I did have some success with current events because they could talk about ANYTHING that was in the paper--sports, local stuff, obituaries....pretty much an open forum. Also, I used to keep my TV turned on to CNN, muted, during tests . I put on the closed captioning and when they were finished with their test, they couldn't help but get some news with it. It also kept them very quiet.

Photo of Daria Cirisano

Love this idea Carolyn, and especially love the fact that you were able to listen and internalize your students' initial feedback, and took it upon yourself to change YOUR methodology, instead of forging ahead and imposing your original current events goal on your class. Very inspiring!

Photo of Carolyn Wendell

Hannah, this idea is really so awesome! It's actually funny because I distinctly remember my 7th grade social studies teacher made us do a current events project exactly like you described! Everyone hated it and some refused to do it (including me haha). This idea of a Show in Tell is fabulous and I really love how you wrote out instructions to make it so tangible for anyone to implement. Is this something other teachers in your school started to do as well in their classes? Does your principle and other school leaders know about Show and Tell and are they supporting this too? I cannot tell you how much I love this idea!