Dear Parents,

Hi, my name is Charles West. I will be teaching 8th grade US history this year from our theory of human migration to Southern Reconstruction after the Civil War.

I have developed my class over the years to include student presentations that help introduce historical information to each class. I began using presentations as a learning technique because I grew tired of teacher-centered lectures observing students zoning out mid-way through a 35-minute lecture. I found that when students were actively involved in the actual teaching of the material, they became more excited and aware. I also realized the importance of students becoming familiar with speaking in front of their peers. It is amazing to see student improvement from August to April as he/she becomes more comfortable with speaking and presenting data acquired by using research.  Students get the opportunity to create prezi presentations (prezi.com), power points, movies, songs, raps, skits, posters and thinking maps to aid their presentations. Students get to play the part of teacher for a few minutes and many are awesome doing it.

NOW, over the years there has also been a bit of confusion:

Although presentations are given by groups of 2-4 students, THEY ARE NOT GRADED AS A GROUP.   Each student will receive an individual score. With that being said, there may be times when 2 or more students receive identical scores, but that is because both students weighed equally regarding the effectiveness of their presentation. I will include a rubric that is used to show how presentations are graded. * If your child ever comes home complaining that he/she did most all of the work on an assignment, or he/she made the entire prezi or explained the whole assignment by his/herself.   Please congratulate your child! Odds are that because he/she took charge of teaching the material effectively, he/she received an A! If your child complains because her partners didn’t do as much work, please reassure him/her that it is reflected in her partners’ presentation grade. No student is going to ride the coat-tails of another student and receive a passing grade. With that being said, it is imperative that each student knows the assigned information well and each student supports their presentation with a visual or something to help their classmates better-understand what is being taught. I call it making the presentation “your own”. Creativity matters! Reading a piece of paper in front of the class is not effective teaching. If your child works with a take-charge type of student that makes the prezi, and “hogs” the presentation, encourage him/her to not be afraid to repeat the material in his/her own way. It always helps to hear something at least a couple of times, if you want to remember it, right?

After presentations are given, I will present notes to further support what the groups discussed. It is very important that all notes are taken. The chapter test will be given based on these notes!


I do not give much homework. The only students pressured to do work at home may be those that have an upcoming presentation. Because of the amount of time I usually allocate (60 minutes of class time) to prepare for a presentation, I feel that everything that needs to be done to prepare for a presentation can be done in class.

Thanks for your time. I appreciate you reading this information. Presentations are a big part of my class and the kids usually have a lot of fun with them.   I look forward to a great school year.



Charles West


Tentative Agenda for 1/8-1/12

We spent Thursday and Friday of last week researching the Articles of Confederation as our nation's first plan of government. Starting Monday, students will begin presentations, followed by a short, teacher-led lecture-discussion, and notes. Test material will come from notes. Test will be early next week.

Monday--Group 1-2 presentations

Tuesday--Group 3-4 presentations

Wednesday--Group 5-6 presentations

Thursday-Group 7-8 presentations

Friday-- Group 9-10 presentations