Get With the Big Picture
This post was originally published August 2016.
Ditching traditional schooling…
I recently re-enrolled in school to complete my degree program at Full Sail University. The first course that I am taking is called Creative Presentation, where I will be learning how to design and create engaging presentations with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The first assignment that I had to do was a discussion post that reflects on my experiences and thoughts pertaining to speaking in public and oral communications, and giving presentations, as well as what I hope to learn from the course.
Presentations, Public Speaking and Communication…OH MY!
Delivering presentations, communications and public speaking are skills that have been instilled in me since my high school education. From my 10th grade, sophomore, year in high school, I attended University Preparatory Academy High School (UPREP) in Detroit, MI where I was born and raised. My high school was publicly chartered through Grand Valley State University and we were a part of a new curriculum program called Big Picture that ditches the traditional school structure altogether. As a Big Picture School, the program is centered around the concept and execution of self-directed learning. With input from school staff, advisors, working professionals, parents, and peers, we as students were in charge of creating our own curriculum, tailored to fit our personal interests and career goals. It was a newer school concept, and we were the only Big Picture School in the area and I happened to be in the second full graduating class for the school.
Some cool facts about my high school are:
- There were about 16 students in each “homeroom” and we stayed together until we graduated. (Totaling about 150 graduating seniors in each class.)
- We went to school three days a week, and had internships two days a week.
- There are no report cards and no block scheduling of classes.
- Most of our time was spent in homeroom (or “advisory”) and we only left for math and science classes.
- There were no extracurricular activities, if you wanted to do something then you had to initiate it school-wide.
- We had a campus of five separate buildings instead of one main school building.
- We didn’t have uniforms, we had a business casual or professional dress code.
- We got graded on using our planners regularly.
- We did projects with learning goals for our work instead of regular assignments with test and quizzes.
- We had to keep all of the work we completed during our high school career in binders that we had to use in exhibitions (presentations) at the end of each trimester.
The most relevant part of my high school experience to this class would be the frequent presentations and public speaking activities that we participated in. At the end of each trimester we had to do these presentations, called exhibitions, in front of our classmates, advisor (teacher), principal, parents and other attendees. The basis of the presentation was to creatively present all of the work that you’d created that trimester, including advisory work and projects, personal and internship projects, math and science coursework, and any extracurricular activities we participated in. In addition to exhibitions, students were frequently called to host school guests and give presentations about our campus. Every grade year participated in giving presentations often, although senior year was the heaviest year of all.
In our senior year, in addition to the regular exhibitions we gave every trimester, we also had a “Senior Class Exhibition” where all of the seniors in the school set up presentation boards and related content at booth stations in the gym at designated time-slots and gave mini-presentations to visitors about the work we’d completed up until then and our future plans. Also, in our senior year, all students were required to write and give a valedictorian speech to the entire senior class and the best 2 were chosen to present at graduation. The other requirements we had as seniors was to write a 75–100 page autobiography and complete a “Senior Thesis Project” that spanned junior and senior year and included a 15 page research paper.
UPREP groomed us for the independence of college and work related plans and we worked hard. Having to give frequent presentations and speak publicly made me a communication powerhouse! No matter the form of communication, I can perform and execute fluently. I am very comfortable speaking publicly or in any setting I have encountered. In this course, I hope to fine tune my presentation skills and be able to deliver more engaging visual presentations. I have been giving in-person presentations for quite some time and I can confidently say that I am comfortable doing so, but I’d like to be able to give that same level of confidence and skill to standalone visual presentations that clearly relay my messages.