McKay: EdCafe Reflection

Posted on May 30, 2013 by

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Through participating in the EdCafe, I learned a lot about how I present and take part in discussion. I had the opportunity to present twice in an informal situation to small groups. From my presentations I realized that it is easy and comfortable for me to casually talk about all the information I acquired through my research. The people who took part in my EdCafe all wrote on my feedback sheets that I was very well prepared, provided a lot of information, and used my time well. My topic of Navajo code talkers really interested me, which made it easy for me to be productive and learn a lot during my research phase of this project. My solid and in depth understanding of my topic really helped me present comfortably. Also, I think the fact that I had gained way more knowledge on Navajo code talkers than I could even fit into my paper really helped me accurately answer any questions that were thrown my way during the EdCafe.

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Although the presenting part was very natural for me, it was a bit difficult bringing my audience into the discussions, mainly because my topic was not entirely controversial and was actually quite positive compared to many of the other EdCafe topics presented by my peers. A few of those who listened to my presentation advised me to ask some more broad questions to ask the audience. Another piece of advice I received was to show a map or a picture to provide visuals to my presentation. One thing that set me apart from other EdCafes and gave audience members a good chance to participate, was showing a list of words and the Navajo translations. We read and even tried to sound out the words, which hopefully gave a better understanding of how difficult the Navajo language is to speak and translate, making it an ideal language for transmitting codes. While this activity seemed to work particularly well in a small group, other aspects of the EdCafe were slightly difficult to do.

All week I felt as though it was a hit or a miss with the size of the groups, for my presentation as well as other people’s presentations. It would have been nice to hear everyones ideas on each topic, but at the same time I enjoyed how in depth we were able to get in small groups. All the EdCafes seemed to be, at the very least, decently successful, but in particular my first presentation, and a couple that I attended, had very interesting and in depth discussions. In order to have this kind of success in an EdCafe discussion, both the presenter and listeners need to get involved. Some of the best EdCafes were ones where the leader would not only involve the audience from the start, but the audience would enthusiastically contribute their ideas and questions. Other times, the speaker would only leave a few minutes at the end for discussion, so even if I had a contribution to the to make, I was unable to until the last moment or even at all if time ran out. Overall, I think the EdCafes were a unique way to convey and learn information. However, I do prefer the round table discussion we had earlier in the year, which allowed me to learn about everyone’s topics and hear even more thoughts and opinions.

Image from flickr:

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