Saturday, January 9, 2010

Public Speaking & Cool Mitts!

Woohoo!! My Blogger account finally allowed me to update the editor and I can now post photos and images. Exciting stuff! A few of you asked about the Canadian Olympic mitts I'm so excited about, so I thought I'd include them as my first offical pic. They're super warm as well as full of awesomeness!
On to business.

It's Orals month in our school board. I don't know if all boards do orals, so I'll explain a bit. Each student is required to present a 3-5 minute rehearsed and remembered speech in front of the class. It used to terrify me. I wouldn't eat that day or the day before for fear of throwing up in front of my peers. Orals can still terrify students.

Because I know exactly how they feel, I always start off the unit by telling them of my fears and horror stories (which are pretty awful). Then I remind them of what I do for a living. You have to be able to speak in front of people in order to be a teacher. They always get a giggle out of the thought of me shaking in terror!

Then I take them step by step by step through the process. We brainstorm topics. They choose a few and brainstorm subtopics for each. We debate the pros/cons of each choice. We talk about the amount of research needed for each.

Once they've chosen, mini-lessons include: how to write a hook for an introduction, how to create a satisfying conclusion, how to draw in the audience, how to balance your subtopics so you don't lose your audience in the middle, how to vary your sentences and your topics to keep it interesting, ...

During the process, several students used webs and outlines. Others have cut up their speeches and changed the order around.

From the very first day, at the end of each session, every student stands up and "talks the oral" for 5 minutes. All 30 of them at once. I record times on the board so they know how much they have and how far they have to go. After about a week, they also work in partners (different person every day). They say their orals to their partner. When they're stuck, the partner prompts them & on they go. A critique session is also included.

The end result is I have students who are comfortable saying their orals, who don't need or want cue cards, who enjoy their topics and who are excited for each other to do well.

One of my students remarked how similar writing an oral is to writing a report or a story. Smart cookie. Very similar to the regular writing process indeed.

Although I do a lot of my brainstorming and planning in my head rather than on paper, I do kind of follow this method. How about you? Does this echo your process?

47 comments:

  1. What a wonderful thing you do for your students. That's a great way to help them with public speaking. I've taken a couple of workshops on public speaking, but I still hate it and it still terrifies me. Sounds like there needs to be more teachers like you to help our students enjoy learning. Way to go. Keep up the great work.

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  2. Mason - I think it's a pretty common fear. I still fake my way through it with some of the bigger presentations I have to make, but it's getting easier!

    Thanks for the boost of confidence! Much appreciated :)

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  3. This would have been a wonderful technique when I was in school. You are really preparing them in a lot of ways.

    I really enjoy public speaking. My father has been a Pastor all my life, so I'm use to being up in front of people. Looking back now it was great preparation.

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  4. Tamika - you make an excellent point. Experience is the best remedy for nervousness. If people do something from an early age, they don't even think about being scared. It's just part of who they are.

    You're very lucky to be so comfortable speaking in groups! :)

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  5. Speaking in front of others is intimidating and takes a lot of practice. I still can't believe I do it every day for a living!

    I love the mitts!

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  6. Clever girl! You can finally post pictures. Lots and lots of them... Just saying :)

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  7. Stephanie - it certainly is!!

    The mitts are great, aren't they :)

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  8. Wendy - LOL :)

    We'll just have to see!

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  9. What a great teacher you are! Putting the kids at ease makes a lot of sense and then you can really get the ultimate performance out of them. Great idea!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

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  10. Thanks Elizabeth :) I try - nothing worse than being uncomfortable doing something. I try to make it as easy as possible!

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  11. I love the way you work with your students and have them work together. You're creating a group that probably won't fear public speaking as adults. They will carry this experience with them through their lifetimes.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  12. Helen - I hope so! It's such a difficult skill for some folks - including me! Hopefully I can help them make it a little bit easier :)

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  13. Your blog brought back memories of my life as a teacher - long time past plus one almost nervous breakdown. I loved the kids. It was the paperwork that finally got to me. You obviously respect and recognise your student's strengths and weaknesses and that's so important. By the way, I found your blog via Nicola Morgan's blog party.

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  14. Hi Rosalind - I'll check out your blog shortly. I'm in the middle of making lasagna right now - so I haven't got to many from her blog party yet :)

    The paperwork is nightmarish for sure! It drives me batty!

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  15. Thanks for visiting my blog. I love the Canadian Olympic mitts!

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  16. Hi Hedge - Aren't the mitts great :) Thanks for popping by!

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  17. Great mitts. I dread speaking in front of others, but am good at it. It's as if I go into a trance or something. The preparation is crucial though, without it I would fall flat on my face.

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  18. You sound like a wonderful teacher. I can only imagine how many students you have helped overcome their fears.

    As to the process - I am a little less team-oriented than that. I work it all out in my head...But then again, I have yet to finish a MS, so maybe I should be open to new ideas?

    Great mittens!

    Michele
    SouthernCityMysteries

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  19. Elizabeth - I totally agree! For any of my presentations, I have to be completely prepared. Otherwise it would probably be an unmitigated disaster :)

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  20. Michele - Thank you - that's very kind. I've had students come back years later to thank me for getting them comfy with speaking - very gratifying for sure :)

    I only found crit partners after I'd finished the ms and done the first several rounds of edits. I couldn't and wouldn't share before that!

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  21. Hi Jemi! I saw you at the N. Blog Birthday party and thought I'd stop over and say hi. I write romance-- at the moment, sci-fi romance. Good luck getting you suspense published. And I think Steampunk is such an interesting genre.
    Stop by my blog sometime. Kaye

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  22. What an awesome thing to do for your students. I'm terrified of public speaking. It never seems to get easier, so I try to avoid it whenever possible. Wish I'd had a teacher like you - might have made all the difference.

    Oh, and those mitts rock! :)

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  23. Hi Kaye - Nicola's party was great - I'm meeting all kinds of new people! If I can't do it this morning, I'll stop by your "place" after work :)

    I love sci-fi as well, sci-fi romance would be great! Steampunk has elements of scifi in it - one of the reasons I found it interesting enough to give it a try!

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  24. VR - Aren't the mitts great? I love them!!

    Thanks - I try to help my students do better than I do. I cope now, but it still requires a lot of deep breathing and preparation!

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  25. I wish I'd been gently encouraged to get over my fear of public speaking when young, as you are helping your students to do. It's a skill that will help them for life.

    I'm now in my fifties but, telling myself it's never too late to learn, I joined a speakers club and I'm gradually increasing in confidence. I'm puzzled though about how best to prepare. I'm wondering if I should write out the whole speech and then memorise the whole thing word for word. This seems to work best for me, providing I have some notes to help me if I forget something while I'm giving the talk.

    Others at my speakers club say, no, don't memorise the whole thing, as that won't sound natural. They tell me to just use brief notes on cards to remind me of the main points. But I'm more scared of doing a talk if I haven't got the whole thing memorised.

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  26. I hated oral presentations as a kid. As an adult, it still makes me quake in my boots. However, I recently learned (through the process of losing my last prepped speech and having to go off the cuff and presenting once again at the spur of the moment) that I can manage just fine--as long as I'm myself.

    I wish I would have had a teacher like you who made the process natural instead of forcing us to the front of the room without giving us a chance to grow in our comfort levels.

    Again I say, "You're the bomb!"

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  27. Jean - I find students who memorize word-for-word get traumatized if they forget the exact next word. Those who remember by points tend to be more comfortable when they change up the wording by mistake.

    Can you have 2 versions of "cue cards" on your podium - 1 with the entire speech, 1 with your bullet points?? That might help.

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  28. Cat - you're such a sweetie!

    You're right about being yourself when you're speaking! It's so helpful. That's why we take so much time choosing topics they will enjoy :)

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  29. I love the mittens.
    I don't like oral presentations, I speak too fast, always have and probably always will.

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  30. Your students are very, very lucky to have you for a teacher! A good grounding in public speaking is so helpful - your students will be all set for future speech occasions.

    My oldest is on the shy side, and one of the best things we ever did when he was young was enroll him in speech classes (including drama competitions!). Whenever we go to meet the teacher night, it's guaranteed that at least one teacher will express amazement at his oral presentation skills, because he's such a quiet shy kid otherwise!

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  31. Carolyn - I used to be BAD - I spoke so quickly it wasn't possible to understand me. I'd write my speeches to be 8 minutes long, so that when I presented, it would last the whole 3 minutes :)

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  32. Belle - thank you :)

    What an awesome idea! I've never heard of speech classes for kids before. Good for him - you're right that skill will last him forever!

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  33. To heck with the writing; I want those mitts. You can't find them here. They sell out the minute they hit the stores. Seriously, I want those mitts.

    However, to relate on a more relevant note (mitts, mitts, mitts) I also took speech classes as a teen. My school also had a debating team. Trust me, between debating and acting, public speaking has never been a personal nightmare. (mitts, mitts, mitts)

    Elspeth

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  34. Sorry Elspeth - we had to get someone out of town to buy them for me too! They disappear like lightning off the shelves.

    You really have done a lot of activities that will make public speaking a snap for you!

    Zellers must be making a fortune on the mitts - they are sooooo popular!

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  35. I love the part where they all say their speeches together and you record times on the board. How clever! I'm sure they get a kick out of it too--and it takes the pressure off. One of my favorite units to teach was monologues. The kids created, rehearsed and acted out monologues that were so awesome, I video taped them. If I ever need to smile, I put on those tapes!

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  36. Lisa and Laura - thanks - you should hear them do their intros! They all know the intro, Ladies & Gents, & beginning lines, so they need to look at me during that. Loud & hilarious!

    I like the idea of doing monologues! That would be fun! They'd have a great time with them. Hmmm.....

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  37. I wish I knew you when my sister was little for I remember how hard this oral month business was on her but I don't think that's what they called it at her school [TCMS. The poor little dear use to weep and shake. Even now in her first year at McGill she talks of it as real pain. We just didn't know how to help her and it broke my heart.
    You have a lovely week.

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  38. Simone - It can cause so much trauma for so many people. It frustrates me when teachers don't really help them through it. It's a skill that needs to be taught like many others! Hope she can get herself through it!

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  39. Jemi,
    Your students are so fortunate to have such an empathetic teacher. They are also lucky to have an instructor perfectly suited to teach writing and speaking!

    Sweet story. Hope all goes well for your kids.

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  40. I used to be absent on the days my speeches were due. I would actually make myself sick. I'm sort of amazed I became a teacher.

    Your students are very lucky to have a teacher as sympathetic and competent as you!

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  41. If I had to do an oral the same way I write, I'd just stand up there and say whatever came to me at the moment!

    Talk about terrifying. I'd need a rewind button so I could go back and edit. And edit. And edit some more.

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  42. Jenny - thanks - we do have a lot of fun :)

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  43. Thanks Anne - it's amazing how many teachers were once terrified of public speaking! I'm getting better, but a lot of the time it comes down to faking confidence - works every time :)

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  44. Elana - an oral speaking edit button - I LOVE it!! Some kind of time machine. Hmmm.. I think I'd burn out the battery in no time :)

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