Public Speaking & Presentations

Communication is an essential skill for all members in society. At Step Up Academy, we understand the importance of communication and build our student’s effective communication skills in our STEM summer program. In the Step Up Academy STEM program, students are taught the skills and strategies to effectively communicate. They have plenty of opportunities to communicate, present information and build their communication skills.

Formal and informal presentations are included in the STEM summer program to afford students multiple opportunities to develop a presentation and share this information.




To begin the development of this skill, students create a presentation early in the program to share the proposal for their prototype with the class. The students write out a script and sometimes put together a slide deck to accompany their presentation. The students are taught by the Ontario Certified Teacher how to create a presentation and how to present to a group of people. They receive feedback from the STEM teacher in addition to their peers to support their learning.

Additionally, when students complete an hands-on activity or solve a problem they share their solution and their process with their peers, further developing their communication skills by presenting in smaller groups. Consistency is key when it comes to developing confidence as well when presenting, and so students have many opportunities to share with their peers in the STEM program.

To top everything off in the end, students create a final presentation with a script and a poster to share with their peers and at the STEM fair, which takes place at the end of August.

Formative Feedback and Its Role in Building Communication

An important aspect of practicing presenting to peers, is the feedback process, which allows for self reflection and growth. In the Step Up STEM Camp, teachers explicitly talk about the criteria for effective presentations, and how they look. Additionally, when the kids present to each other, they provide feedback on various aspects such as posture, tone, pace, gestures, and various other contributing factors for success. Repeated input and implementation of this feedback allows the children to see growth. This is one of the main ways we challenge our STEM Campers to see significant development in their communication skills.

Additionally, based on research conducted by Nicol and McFarlane-Dick (2006), formative feedback supports student learning in the following ways by

  • Providing students with the tools to take control of their own learning, i.e., become self-regulated learners.
  • Enabling students to be actively involved in monitoring and regulating their own performance.
  • Reducing uncertainty about their performance and can help correct misconceptions or inappropriate task strategies.
  • Leading to higher motivation and more efficient task strategies.

STEM Learning, although is meant to be focused on the 4 tenets of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, independence in learning is also a crucial factor in success.

By receiving regular formative feedback on their presentations, students see what the next steps to success are and have something to strive for. In order to do this, the teachers of Step Up Academy’s STEM Summer Camp have developed various tools and strategies to support our kids.

Below are some of the main ways we use formative feedback in presentations to develop kids’ communication skills:

  • Co-develop success criteria to ensure all students are aware of what’s needed in a successful presentation.
  • Create student-friendly checklists to refer to throughout the working process so kids are reminded of what needs to be completed and the expectations.
  • Use rubrics with student-friendly language that directly connect to the co-constructed success criteria for students to use when providing feedback.
  • Reflect on the feedback received from peers to improve and adapt future presentations.
  • Record presentations for the presenter to refer to and self-critique their own strategies because nothing ever looks the same in real life as it does in our head.

These are just some of the strategies used in the Step Up STEM Summer Camp that highlights our commitment to formative feedback as a tool to improve presentations and consequently, campers’ communication skills.

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy also plays a role in presentations as students are encouraged throughout the STEM summer program, to create digital presentations to share their learning with peers and to share the process they completed.

This is well-liked by the students. Often after a design challenge, students will have the opportunity to create a short video explaining what they did to solve the problem and why they chose to do this. They will also talk about any adjustments they made and how the solution worked in solving the mock real-world problem. Through this, media and technology are integrated into building effective communication skills to broaden the applicability of the communication skills the students learn.

To summarize, the presentation process in Step Up Academy’s STEM program is as follows:

  • Students are taught how to create and deliver a presentation.
  • Students are presented with a template for their script.
  • Students develop their script with the support of the STEM teacher.
  • STEM teacher collaborates with the students on their script.
  • Students practice their script multiple times.
  • Students present their presentation to their peers.
  • Peers provide feedback.
  • Students present to the STEM class.
  • Students receive peer and teacher feedback.
  • Students reflect on the process and review the feedback.

Effective communication is well supported in research as a requirement for most academic and professional encounters. Students need to build their communication skills to succeed in a range of activities that can consist of sharing ideas in front of their class to communicating one on one with their peers. At Step Up Academy, we value teaching our students specific skills in order to support them in building their communication skills. Through our STEM program, students are taught various ways to improve their communication by engaging in presentations and other activities to build their communication skills so they can more effectively share their ideas.

Effective communication skills are the cornerstone for success in numerous work environments (Borowczak, 2015). Students need to be adequately prepared for their future and to be citizens. Communication skills are critical in developing students to be citizens in our world (Carnevale, Smith & Melton, 2011). Through our STEM program we are preparing the students to be effective and impactful citizens by and supporting them as they build on their skills. It is well established in research that communication is an essential component in STEM education and is essential in preparing students for their futures (Borowczak, 2015).

Confidence in Presentations and Oral Communication

At Step Up Academy we believe confidence in oral communication is essential in becoming an effective communicator. Through the multiple presentations and communication games, the students are supported in learning to become effective communicators and become more confident in their communication specifically presentations to a group. Confidence is an important skill to build and this largely comes from practice and exposure to multiple experiences related to building communication skills. Students often come into the STEM program shy or hesitant to orally present, however they leave the program excited for presentations and to share their ideas with others. The students become excited to create and present their presentations and make significant gains in their confidence and the characteristics of being an effective communicator.

All of the characteristics listed below are developed through the Step Up Academy’s STEM summer program:

  • Welcoming body language.
  • Eye contact with the audience.
  • Clarity in message.
  • Confidence.
  • Constructive feedback.
  • Preparedness.
  • Appropriate volume/ pacing.
  • Visual and oral prompts.

Furthermore, the different types of communication addressed in the Step Up Academy’s STEM program are:

  • Oral communication.
  • Written communication.
  • Attentive listening.
  • Media communication.
  • Visual communication.

In the Step Up Academy’s STEM program, students are afforded opportunities to learn to communicate in a variety of ways. Students create videos to communicate their process and learnings from various hands-on activities. As a part of the final presentation, a poster is created to showcase learning and make meaningful STEM connections. On the posters, ideas are communicated via writing and images to convey the message to the audience.

Common Questions and Answers about Building Communication Skills through Presentations

How does the Step Up Academy’s STEM program build communication skills?

Communication skills are built through a variety of activities at the Step Up Academy’s STEM summer program. Creating and delivering engaging presentations is one way communication skills are built in the STEM program. The students create multiple presentations including oral components, written components, visual components and deliver their presentation to a small group. Students record videos highlighting their learning while engaging in improving their communication skills.

Why are communication skills important for children to learn?

Communication skills are built through a variety of activities at the Step Up Academy’s STEM summer program. Creating and delivering engaging presentations is one way communication skills are built in the STEM program. The students create multiple presentations including oral components, written components, visual components and deliver their presentation to a small group. Students record videos highlighting their learning while engaging in improving their communication skills.

If my child is hesitant with presentations, will the Step Up Academy’s STEM program be a good fit for them?

Absolutely! The Step Up Academy’s STEM summer program is designed for students to build their confidence with presentations while improving their communication skills. Through our STEM program, students build confidence with their peers as community building is a big part of our STEM program. The students build community before they start their presentations allowing them to become comfortable with their peers first. The students are provided the skills and support to gain confidence with presentations and this helps them build confidence with their communication.

For your reference, below are various ways we build communication skills in the Step Up Academy’s STEM program:

  • Providing templates for presentations.
  • Assist students in developing and delivering presentations.
  • Provide descriptive feedback to students based on their presentations.
  • Teach students how to provide peer feedback.
  • Students give and receive peer feedback.
  • Teach verbal communication skills.
  • Teach non-verbal communication skills.
  • Use games, videos, and developing videos to support building communication skills.
  • Promote self-evaluation skills.
  • Building confidence.

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