Why Show and Tell Is So Important


Janine Rees 22nd July 2016

I can hear the groans from here. I know many teachers hate Show and Tell with a passion. I love it! Let me tell you why:

  1. The kids love it! They love to share their knowledge or experiences with their teachers and peers. They get to bring a little piece of their themselves and their lives to the classroom. They get to be important for a few minutes per week and be front and center.
  2. It’s great for developing confidence. The ability to speak in front of an audience is a great strength. Thinking on your feet; keeping the audience interested; speaking clearly and effectively are all fabulously helpful skills to develop.
  3. Teachers can get to know their students better. By allowing students free choice of topics you get an insight into that child’s interests, strengths and passions which gives the opportunity to build strong relationships. What could be more important?
  4. Show and Tell teaches kids to listen to each other. It teaches them that we can show respect to others by acknowledging them and listening to them.
  5. It teaches kids that we are all different and have different interests and abilities and that is ok – in fact it’s a good thing.
  6. It helps friendships to develop as children with similar interests can get to know their peers better and align with kindred spirits.
  7. It takes planning and organisation to remember your rostered day and to prepare your Show and Tell.
  8. It’s a great time for the teacher to observe the class: who listens well and who needs support with directing their attention; who speaks clearly and concisely; who asks relevant questions; who has a thorough knowledge in a certain area; who has a great sense of humour; who demonstrates resilience; who may have a physical inability to sit still and may need core strengthening work…
  9. I have experienced many occasions when someone’s Show and Tell has sparked the classes interests and has led to further investigation and project work.
  10. Show and Tell can open up topics for discussion that are relevant to the children’s lives and can inspire deep thinking and reflection.

I would definitely recommend that teachers make Show and Tell a priority in the classroom. I have seen such huge successes, for example one little boy I taught in Year 2 spent the first term observing others at Show and Tell time. He wasn’t keen to have a go. By the second term he gave it a go with a very brief, perhaps two sentence Show and Tell. The following week he spoke a little more and grew a litlle more confident. By the end of the year, through practise and participation, he was much more confident in himself and his ability to speak in front of his peers had grown exponentially.

Another young girl who was extremely timid had a very similar experience. She rarely spoke other than to her family or her best friend. She chose not to partake in Show and Tell for around half the year. Finally she decided to have her turn after her family had been on a holiday that she had thoroughly enjoyed and she wanted to share her photos with the class. Again, it was a very soflty spoken short presentation with head nods to the two questions at the end of her turn, but the looks on the faces of the rest of the class said it all. They were so proud of her for having a go, they supported her. They cheered and clapped her loudly at the conclusion.

My heart was full and with tears in my eyes I thanked her for sharing with us. She began to have her turn at Show and Tell every week. She grew in confidence, she was a different child. Other teachers started to comment on how she seemd to have come out of her shell, that she had said good morning to them in the playground. Wonderful stuff, growing out of something as simple as Show and Tell. I sometimes wonder the difference had they not had that opportunity.

I don’t think it really matters how you do it, what time you do it or what you call it. Whether you help or guide students by assigning topics or let them choose their own or perhaps a mixture of both. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every primary class continued with Show and Tell. I think it’s imperative that the teacher models respectful listening by being attentive during each child’s turn, not marking work or setting up for a lesson. Please don’t underestimate the powerful practice of Show and Tell. It may be the most important ten minutes of the school day. You will get to know your students better and they will appreciate the chance to put themselves out there and share a little piece of themselves each week.








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