Spring into Speeches and Meet CCSS in Content Areas

Speeches meet CCSS

By Spring of the school year, your students likely are comfortable enough with you and their classmates to give oral presentations with more confidence and competence than they could in the opening semester.  Now is a good time to assign a formal informative or persuasive speech that will give your students another opportunity to hone their research, writing, and speaking skills for an authentic audience while meeting Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts in reading, writing, speaking, listening, , and language! Students may conduct research, collaborate, create digital media and more.

You can get them off to a good start by drawing their attention to the features of an effective oral presentation and the fact that speeches are both aural and visual.  An attentive  audience pays attention not only to what the speaker says and but also how s/he looks and uses the physical space and supportive or distracting gestures.

Choose and show a couple of the short TED talks on topics your class has been studying so far.  This time, turn off the volume and ask the students to simply observe the speaker.  How is s/he using the physical space?  What gestures seem natural, without being distracting.  Then, turn the volume up and ask students to pay attention to vocal qualities.  How does the speaker pace his/her presentation?  Use pauses? Modulate his/her voice? Articulate words?

Next, invite students to choose a topic on something that interests them or that they are studying in another class.  This will reinforce or expand their thinking about this other topic and earn them credit for completing an assignment in your class.  For some students, this will be an efficient way to spend the next couple of weeks.

If you decide to assign a persuasive speech, spend a little time talking about persuasive strategies and kinds of appeals to change, organizational patterns, and ways of determining what the audience thinks and believes before trying to convince them to change.  See VALUES assignment and TALKS TO CONVINCE or PERSUADE Be sure to include reminders of the ethics of public speaking and cautions to avoid resorting to  fallacious arguments.  Fallacies are easy for students to spot in commercial advertisments.  See ANALYZING ADVERTISEMENTS Assignment.

Students can practice their arguments on controversial topics by SPARring.  See procon.org for contemporary topics and arguments for both side of issues.a

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Teaching English Language Arts