Narrow the topic

Watch and be impressed. 

Main Idea:

  • Summary of the story
  • What you would say to a friend to summarize the plot of the story, as if it were a movie
  • NOT too broad & NOT too narrow
  • The overall idea of the story
  • Just enough information to get what the story is about
  • What the author wants to the reader to know about the subject
  • It helps you make sense of the story
  • It could be used as a topic sentence or thesis statement
  • The focus of the story

Narrow Idea:

  • Details about the main idea
  • Gives descriptive information from the story
  • Describes something in the story
  • Helps us visualize part of the story
  • Not enough information to get the whole story
  • It could be a fact from the story
  • Makes you want to know more
  • One single part of the overall subject
  • A specific idea or concept in the story
  • Describes something that happened or what someone did

The End is Nigh

Your final assignments for your portfolio for the semester are the following:

  1. A recap of the semester – what you discovered about yourself, your process, about writing for media, about how you plan to use what you have learned and how you plan to showcase these skills. This will be a video of about 1 minute (5 second on either side is acceptable). You will include the video with a 500-word essay that will have links and photos (Think faces and places!)
  2. A 1:30 video about a topic of your choice – the completed project will include all of your resources (photos, videos, graphics, storyboard in a Google Drive that you will share with me.)
  3. A rewrite and a re-conception of one of your previous assignments.

To help you think this through here is a link on how to make a real storyboard in Word. 

These assignments will appear on your site by 3 p.m. on Friday, December 11. We will look at the top three projects (The video and the rewrite) on the day of the final and the winner will receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

The Puzzle Project


Here is what needs to be included for your puzzle project presentation:

(This should be about 10-12 minutes long with another 3-5 for questions from the audience and from the judges.)

Executive Summary of Project

Why are you doing this project? (And this isn’t because Dr. Crowley made us do it. Be an adult.)

What did you learn by working together as a team?

  • What surprised you?
  • What happened that you didn’t expect?

Work breakdown

Who did what and how did that work out?

Schedule and time management

How did you even pick the puzzles you chose?

Deployment plan

How did you decide to go about beginning the project?

Assumptions and constraints

What did you think was going to happen? What ended up happening?

Did you have any communication issues? (Both technological and personal)


Note each time there was success in the deployment of the plan


What can you tell other about working on a project like this? What are the lessons learned from doing the project? What would you do differently next time?

What I taught for Shockey Construction about presentation skills 

Rehearse as a group—early and often.
• Clearly establish everyone’s role and how the presentations link to one another.
• Get used to one another’s speaking styles and especially, strengths and weaknesses.
• Is there too much content? Too little of the right content?
• Is there overlap?
• Do the presentations complement and support one another?
• Do they flow logically?
• Are they aligned with your objectives?

Include both introductions and transitions as part of your preparation and rehearsal. We will work on these together. This is a reflection of the questions you answer above.
The transitions are where the bridging elements that conclude one presentation and lead to the next one take place. Each presenter should wrap up his or her own segment, and then establish a link to the next presenter.

You’re “on,” even when you’re not speaking.
Body language and composure is important part of evaluation. You must look engaged but casual and confidant. So stay alert. Listen. Show interest in what’s being said. Remember: your body language can convey a positive or negative message.

  • Stifle that yawn.
  • Don’t slouch or look bored.
  • And unless it’s absolutely necessary, do not whisper an aside to another team member.
  • Also pay attention to the audience. You may pick up signs helping you to gauge audience response. That can be useful if you have yet to present.

Your personal presentation
Structuring your presentation by addressing the questions:
“What?”, “Why?” and “How?”
“What?” identifies the key message you wish to communicate. From the perspective of the audience, think about what is the benefit of your message. What will they gain, what can they do with the information, and what will the benefit be?
“Why?” addresses the next obvious question that arises in the audience. Having been told “what”, the audience will naturally then start to think “why should I do that?”, “why should I think that?” or “why should that be the case?” Directly addressing the “why?” question in the next stage of your presentation means that you are answering these questions and your talk is following what the audience perceives as a natural route through the material. The result is that you have the audience on your side immediately.
“How?” is also the next question that naturally arises in the audience’s mind: how are they going to achieve what you have just suggested. Try not to be too prescriptive here so, instead of telling people exactly how they should act on your message, offer suggestions as to how they can act.
“Summarize” You should also finish by proving what you have just said: providing evidence that what you have just said is beyond dispute using

Some general tips
• Show some energy
Tell a story (What is the metaphor for this project?)
• Know your audience
• Be unique / memorable
• Summarize

Average student presentation

Here is an example of a great group student presentation. 

Life’s a pitch 



Understanding great story telling

It does not matter what you are trying to communicate – it is all about the story. It does not matter if you are a journalist, novelist, broadcaster, blogger, marketer, publicist, strategist,

Marketers are constantly telling stories – from an organization’s history and tales of customers and employees to stories about our products and services.

We are wired for stories. (Read that story from Wired magazine) The most memorable stories have real characters people can relate to, who draw our attention or elicit an emotional response.

Keith Ecker, content strategist at Jaffe PR, spoke about storytelling Content Jam. He reminded me, even though we tell stories every day, sometimes we need to go back to the basics.

Storytelling Basics

Here is Ecker’s recipe – the critical elements of a good story:

  • Characters: You need to have at least two.
  • Content: The who, what, when, and where.
  • Motivations: The why, an unfulfilled gap.
  • Conflict: The juiciest part of the story.
  • Resolution: The realization, epiphany, or takeaway

Susan Gunelius, contributor to Forbes adds, “…the best brand storytellers understand the critical elements of fiction writing, which are skills  few marketers have been formally trained to do.”

Storytelling from the masters 

Thinking about presentations of all kinds

Thinking about narrative

Let’s tale a look at the narrative arc. 

 No matter what you are writing there should be some narrative elements involved:

  • Opening (set the scene) – “It was a dark and stormy night.”
  • Exposition (What is the background?) “She’s always been afraid of the dark”
  • Rising Action (This is where it gets exciting.) “She never thought she would have a gun in her hand.”
  • Climax – “She never thought she would pull a trigger – but she did.”
  • Resolution  – “Her roommate would ever forget her key again.”

Each person in the group will begin with an opening. After you complete your opening send it to the person sitting on your right. Read their opening and add your own exposition. When you are finished send your exposition on and write the rising action of the next story that comes your way.


Group assignment

Life is a group project.

Take the topic you are given and do the following:

  • You will give us an overview of the topic.
    • Feel free to interview people one campus on what they think your topic means
  • What are the well-known moments in this topic? Or best examples of the topic?
  • What are the vocabulary words we need to know?
  • Who are the thought leaders in this area?
  • What is it that we need to do to keep up with this area?
  • If I wanted to work in this area what would I need to know? Where could I work?

Imagine that you are teaching someone from Mars. What do they need to know. They are not stupid so don’t dumb it down but educate them about what these terms mean.

You need to include videos, links, one Videolicious of what you think about this topic.

The Halloween Assignment

Halloween has evolved from rural superstitions to big business. Imagine that you are starting a Halloween-themed business. How would you capitalize on the holiday’s earning potential?

Write a two to three paragraph pitch to persuade potential investors. You should describe your Halloween business, identify the customers you’d target and explain how your product, service or idea will make money.

Use the faces and places to add visual content. Also use any graphics you might find on the web. Include 3-5 links that will help you make your argument that this business is a money maker. BE CREATIVE!

Thinking for visual storytelling

What does it mean to think visually.

“How does a picture story differ from a collection of pictures on a topic?

A picture story has a theme. Not only are the individual pictures in the story about one subject, but they also help to support one central point”

Let’s look at what a powerful image can do. 

Let’s look at the different camera angles and what they can evoke in the viewer. 

This is for video but it also works here

Places2Faces assignment.

  • The first photo should establish the location of your story – what does it look like? color? texture? geography? architecture?
  • The second photo should establish a face that is central to your story – who lives/works/exists here? what do they look like? how does the place show in their face?
  • The third photo should fill the place with some faces – interior? movement? uses of the space? how full? empty?
  • The fourth photo should show your face in the place – shift the focus. how do faces interact with the place? how do the faces reflect the place? the place the face?

All four images need complete captions – including all identifying information, contact info and in complete sentences. You can crop and tone these as appropriate, as well.

If you want another presentation on this assignment, take a look at this piece Mark wrote for PBS on how we use this assignment. May give you some more background or ideas.