Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Pitch Day 2015

After all of the planning that went in to Pitch Day 2015, by us and the kids, it was finally time to pitch our ideas. Pitch Committee members began showing up at 8:15 and by 8:35, we had all of our judges in place. We divided them into groups of four judges and each of the three groups was located in a different room. Each committee would hear roughly fifteen pitches. Our first couple of students for each room readied themselves and the pitching began. The committees heard about ideas from coding to cooking, fashion design to water desalination gadgets. The committees heard it all.

Derrick and Bryce are READY for their Pitch Day Presentations!

Each presentation started with a one-minute video that functioned as a commercial for the student's idea. When our school wifi was working properly, the videos were actually one minute. Most of the time today, the wifi was glitchy and the kids were frustrated when their videos stalled out. All of the kids overcame the wifi problem, often talking instead of showing their video. The videos were to be followed by a two-minute description of what the project was, what the student was planning on learning, and the plans for the project beyond this year (if there were any). Lastly, we reserved two minutes for committee members to ask questions of the kids.

While debriefing with the committee members after the last pitch was done, we heard an array of comments. All of the members were impressed with the kids' presentations. Some raved about a particular student or thought that a certain idea could be a world-changer. Nearly all of the committee members talked about how excited the kids were about their ideas, how invested in the ideas they were and how meaningful the projects would be for the kids. This is the kind of learning that is exciting to see. Those committee members left our rooms with a sense of excitement about learning in general and 20% Time in particular. It is one of the reasons why we're convinced that 20% Time, PBL, Genius Hour and personlized learning is the future of education.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pitch Day Logistics

The logistics behind pitch day are extensive. In October, we try to secure our Pitch Committee. We send out e-mails to several teachers, coordinators and administrators to gauge availability and interest. We have experienced great cooperation. Our superintendent, assistant superintendent, principal, assistant principal, curriculum coordinators, principals from other buildings and various teachers volunteer to be on the committee. This year, we need between 10-12 committee members.

During the week before Pitch Day, kids prepare their one-minute video commercial to help sell their idea to the committee. That video will kick off their presentation. After the video, they will talk for two minutes about their project and what they plan to learn and accomplish. Following the two-minute talk will be time for the judges to ask questions about the project idea. Those three elements round out each five-minute presentation.

We use three classrooms (in the past we have used two but this year we are tweaking things) for pitches. Four judges will be located in each of the three classrooms (for a total of 12 judges). We create a list for each classroom that we use. This year we will have Pitch Group A, Pitch Group B and Pitch Group C. Each pitch group will be in one of the three classrooms.

The morning of Pitch Day will be bustling with activity. Kids will be waiting in the cafeteria for their name to be called to go pitch. During their stay in the cafeteria, they can put finishing touches on their presentation, practice their talk or relax and catch up on school work. While the kids are housed in the cafeteria, we get the judges settled into the three classrooms that we are using. When the judges are ready, we call for the first presenter in each room. Presentations follow a list that we create for each room. As one student is presenting, the next student on the list is called from the cafeteria to be "on deck", waiting outside the appropriate classroom where they will present next. We expect about fifteen presentations in each classroom for a total of 45 presentations. We are planning on Pitch Day taking the first two class periods of the morning.

Pitch Day is a high-stakes day for the kids. We talk to them about how to enter the room, how to introduce themselves to the committee and how to begin their presentation. The judges have feedback sheets that include presentations skills as well as questions about the projects. The kids usually dress up, have their notes prepared and rock their presentations. We are both nervous and eager to see how Pitch Day this year will turn out. It is such a great day of experiential learning for the kids and we very much value it.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Podcast: Preparing for Pitch Day

In this episode, we talk about Pitch Day and the preparations that go into this event. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes and follow us on Twitter @dayankee and @melissahellwig4