Alternatives to the PT provided

My first year teaching this coursse, I had students do the PT provided, but as I have more students in my class, the thought of listening to hours of “flash talks” about the same thing seemed a little redundant for me and my students - especially now with my class size at 38(!)

Last year I did @jkeays infographic task - I really liked it but some of the students were just regurgitating information back to me. I also had a group of 3 girls who wanted to make a children’s book instead which turned out awesome as they strung out this extended metaphor involving a story of dragons and princesses.

SO, this year I am giving students a choice and this is where I am looking for feedback. Students can do one of 2 projects.

Option 1) Is a research project, but I am extending the options based on work that Daniel Schnider (aka @MathyMcMatherso on twitter – follow him!) did. Instead of focusing on three topics, there are TONS more options. It is more research based (great practice for the Explore) and will result in greater variety of topics being shared - at least that’s the hope. Here is the prompt for students.

Option 2) Is a story or extended metaphor that describes how the internet works. I figure this is a bit more of a creative application to what we just learned. The goal is that it forces students to think more abstractly and concretely about the internet and I won’t get the regurgitation of facts that I got (occasionally) last year. Here is the prompt for students.

I’d love your feedback! What problems do your forsee? How do you plan on assessing Unit 1 in your courses?


Great ideas Katie. I too have have 3 sections and two of them are 38 and 40.

This is what I did for U1 L14 Flash Talk.
I gave the students 2 choices:

  1. You can present LIVE or
  2. You can make a 2 minute video posted on youtube and share the link with me.

I got lucky and it was a 50% 50% split. Consequently, the class time of presentations were cut down so we can get it done in one day. The more “nervous” students enjoyed the option to record and know I was the only one listening. They did have to require the “soft skill” of recording and posting which is a skill they need for the AP Exam CTask.

Just sharing



Whoa! I am looking for the “bowing down” emoji… can’t find it! 40 is a lot!

I love the idea of giving students choice at any time, I am sure your nervous students appreciated it too.

Did you do the flash talk AND the inforgraphic?

For Lesson 14’s Practice Explore Task, they turn in

  1. The reference chart which supplies
  2. The word for word written out FLASH TALK.
  3. Performance/Presentation LIVE in class or a recorded youtube video.

I also focus on building your skills to present, supporting one another, being creative and being positive.

As for the info-graphic, I believe we do that in a different lesson in a different Unit. I know has updated a few lessons but I’m mainly using my own notes compiled from the 2016-2017 curriculum. Some of the worksheets for each lesson have been updated but in most cases, I usually copy and then tweak them for our needs. Since I post on Google Classroom, Google makes it so easy for me to remember what I posted in any other year.


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Thanks Katie,

I really like the metaphor/story assignment. I’m doing this one for my class this year (tomorrow) instead of the infographic assignment I had made for them last year. I think they will remember the intricacies of the internet better if they create the metaphors themselves. Funny story about metaphors, I used a restaurant order number as a metaphor for DHCP in my class last week and had a picture on my slide of the restaurant in Seinfeld. Nobody knew what I meant when I said Seinfeld. It was a sad moment in my teaching career…


SMH… Kids these days…

Thanks a lot for these ideas Katie! I was looking for a way to give my students more options of topics.

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Just as an update as to how this assignment went, it was great. I will use this every year. The best, most creative work came from the stories students had to create as opposed to metaphors (even though they were good too). They created digital books with a script they read in front of class. Those who didn’t feel comfortable presenting or for those who wanted to share their stories outside of class created a digital book with voice over. My favorite part was a character named “HTTP” in the book that did not have powers until he put on his “S” shirt like Superman, turning him into “HTTPS” which gave him protective powers.

Side note: my wife teaches kindergarten and my challenge was for them to create a book for her elementary students. I figured if they could explain the internet in simple terms, they’ll understand and remember it.

Thanks Kaitie, awesome lesson idea!


Alright! I am happy to hear it went well! My students just turned in theirs today… I have to look at them still.

On the note of “write it for Kindergardeners”, someone I know who teaches science has his students explain a scientific concept using the “Ten Hundred Most Common Words”. It was this thing started by the XKCD folks. Here is my handout for it. Some Nasa scientists even got into it - here is a video about “how to go to space”

I had students write a paragraph describing either their research topic or how the internet worked. Some students did better than others. I didn’t do a good enough job selling it to students. My science-teacher-friend’s kids eat it up - it is the highlight of the project for them. My students shrugged it off. I also don’t know how much time I should invest into getting them into it.

Here was one students explanations around how to get internet to remote locations:
"To get on line to far places, you need a few things. An on line person willing to send the learning needed, a way to get the learning to the place, money to make the learning go, and people willing to pay for the learning. The best way right now to get on line to far places is by the use of sky ball. If a big town or city is using sky ball on line, they will need a ground sky ball and lines usually under ground to get the on line to people that need it. If it is just one person that needs the on line, then it will be a lot of money because they will need their own ground sky ball in order to get the on line, and they will also have to pay the person that they use for the on line. This is why people in less money places do not have on line usually because they barely have money and it is too much for them to buy it. sky ball on line can be not good sometimes when it has slow time and high send time which is how long it takes from the time it is sent to get. In the follow years there will be better ways to get less money and better on line in far away places that need it and it will make the world more people to people through talk. "

I thought it was entertaining. From and academic perspective, it forced students to think about how they explain something really technical. Some of my students like using really big words without knowing what they mean - this forced them to slow it down, and be more intentional about their word choice.