Common Core Standards:
W.6.7. W.7.7. W.8.7. W.9-10.7. W.11-12.7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.
SL.6.3. SL.7.3. SL 8.3. SL 9-10.3 SL 11-12.3 Delineate a speaker’s argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
SL.6.4. SL.7.4. SL 8.4. SL 9-10.4 SL 11-12.4 Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
SL.6.6. SL.7.6. SL 8.6. SL 9-10.6 SL 11-12.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
Note: Read Demonstration Speaking before you begin this unit.
You would think that for a project that demanded so many skills to be mastered in such a short period of time and under so much pressure that this would be one of the most dreaded units that students must endure. That’s what I would think, yet I am continuously amazed that my own take on this next project is so clearly out of step with the feelings of my students. The only logical reason for their continued pleasure with this project must be its uniqueness of approach and the delight of its topics. On the other hand, I could be completely wrong and what pleases our pupils is the short duration of the speaking time. In either case, you as a teacher might view this first formal method of public speaking with some trepidation, but I would expect that your classes will thoroughly enjoy it.
In a nutshell, the project asks the students to display all of the qualities needed to be an excellent speaker with very little preparation time, no script and no knowledge of the topic they will present two minutes before they deliver it. It seems to carry the same thrill as hang gliding in that you know what needs to be done (fly high as opposed to crashing), but you’re not completely sure which kite you’re going to get and whether it’s going to hold together long enough to stay in the air. There’s a certain thrill of the unknown to this project where you know that if you draw a topic you’re familiar with you’ll be fine, but if you don’t you’re in for scary one minute ride. In either case, it will place a great deal of demand upon your students as speakers and you (and your partner) as judges. That’s right, this time you will be a judging your students with the assistance of another teacher, but we’ll get to that later. For now, let us explore exactly what this project will entail.
If ever you needed stop watches - other than The Radio Project – this would be the time. Should you find yourself with a dearth of timers, encourage the students to bring watches with second hands or cell phones that have a stopwatch function. This is simply one of those projects where seconds do count and the students have to have reliable time pieces at their disposal. At the very least there has to be some type of clock with a second hand or a count down function that all of the students can see even when they are widely separated from one another. As far as topics are concerned, there are 240 topics in this book, more than enough to run this project without much duplication of topics. The desk bell (the type you see in hotels that call for bellhops) that I will mention in the students’ instructions is not mandatory, but it does add a fun element to the project and it does help your timers to be more accurate (plus, the kids think it’s cool to ring the bell). You can easily get a hold of them on the web. We purchased one of ours at a local, major discount store.
As to the topic slips, I’ve set them up them so that they can be copied and cut into ¾ inch strips; additionally, I’ve included them in packet form so that students can use them for practice.
Modeling this one could be tough, but if ever you needed to model bravery for your students, this project would be the one. Clearly there is an element of fear to this unit that will see some students get unhinged if they don’t recognize that it is a manageable task and everyone can gain a decent grade by it. You could have your students do the modeling, but I just don’t think that would be the same nor do I believe it will achieve the same effect as you acting as the example. What you need to do is spend a couple of hours practicing the same conditions under which your students will work. As this project asks that you judge with two teachers, have the other teacher act as your assistant. If you concentrate better alone when it comes to generating ideas, then practice that way. What is important is that you develop a style of preparation that works for you so that no matter what slip you decide to choose, you will have the means at your disposal to formulate a response, organize it for delivery and then present it with great eloquence. I find that if I can relate a chosen topic to a story from my background that I can generally fill a minute on demand. I do not recommend that you wing this. Teachers are naturally glib speakers, but this unit requires too much from one minute’s worth of presentation time. You need to be at your best and that means doing the hard thing and honing your own delivery skills.
Your first order of business, once you’ve worked out how you will address the materials needed, will be to locate a partner to judge with. The most logical partner would be your librarian or your librarian’s assistant. Both are knowledgeable and have the type of flexible schedule (sort of) that could allow them to assist you for the four to five days needed to grade the projects. Should neither be available, you could turn to individual teachers for specific classes who are available on their preparation period (i.e. – this would mean that your first block grading partner would not be the same as your third or fourth block partner). One method that has worked out extremely well for me is to bring back a retired teacher whose schedule is usually wonderfully free (if you give them advanced warning) and they love the feeling of having all the fun of teaching and assessment without any of the hassle of preparation, organization or classroom management. If these ideas don’t work out, you could bring back some of your former students who would probably delight in being on the assessment side of a project. You could do all the assessment yourself, but this is one project where response from past students suggests that they really appreciate having a second teacher grading them for what is a small amount of delivery time and a large amount of responsibility. Take good care of this partner as you will need them – or someone like them – when you begin the Persuasive Speaking unit.
I base the following schedule on thirteen days if you have 50 minute blocks or nine days if you have 90 minute blocks. As always, this is based on 25 students within the classroom. It should be noted that students can go to my website and view the same topics from their home computer. This important because practicing at home is a must if they are to be successful. Depending upon practice at school will not be sufficient. They can Google “Mr. Harper’s Advanced” (We are always the first option and come up immediately.) or you can give them this address:
Day 1 – Teacher model, unit requirements and objectives, review ALL of the topics for clarification, assemble groups, practice with the remaining time (all period)
Day 2 – Practice (all period)
Day 3 – Practice (half period)
Day 4 – Begin with lambs for the first half; go to practice for the second half. (half period)
Day 5 – Begin with lambs for the first half; go to practice for the second half. (half period)
Day 6 – Demonstrate selection, timing and rotation system, have all students complete one speech (all period)
Day 7 – Complete unfinished practice presentations
Day 8 – Presentations (all period) We usually average 12-15 students per period.
Day 9 – Presentations (all period)
Day 10 - Presentations (all period)
Day 11 - Presentations (all period)
Day 12 - Presentations (all period)
Day 13 – Presentations – if you are using a 50 minute period (all period)