Tag Archives: public speaking

teaching kids (and yourself!) how to excel at public speaking

by Jessica Reynolds and Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed. 

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Did you know that when polled, Americans consistently rank public speaking as their number one fear, even above death (which is number two)? Why all the willies? Well, lots of reasons: fears of freezing up, going blank, being the center of attention, losing face….

So, when teaching our youngsters how to speak in front of others, we need to minimize fears and bolster confidence. Here’s how:

1. Pick an engaging topic. 

Whenever you are asked to speak, the organizer of the event will likely assign you a general topic to talk about, but you can present a clever or creative perspective or angle. Just because they tell you to talk about gardening, for example, doesn’t mean you have to give a step by step tutorial. Most people know how to plant a garden, but fewer people know secrets of fertilizing or the different fertilizing options. Maybe talk about starting a neighborhood share program where participants bring their fruits of their labor and mix up what is there, each taking a portion of what everyone contributes.

Opting for a creative approach will make you feel more confident in your material, and will also result in a highly engaged audience. 

2. Write out a plan. 

Put your speech into writing, even if you plan to talk off-the-cuff without reading your notes. Here’s how to start your plan:

Come up with a catchy beginning:

The beginning can be something like a joke, ice breaker or anecdote. In order to gain the audience’s attention, you need to make an impression in under one minute or people will begin to tune you out. Grab them early on and hold their attention for the duration!

Put the meat in the middle:

The middle of your speech should be the meat and potatoes of what you have to say. Use strong word imagery to connect with your audience. Visual aids can help you stay on point, like posters or PowerPoint. But, don’t write your speech entirely using these aids, or you will end up reading from your slides…a sure snooze-alert! Know your stuff, and present it communicatively with enthusiasm and animation. It’s also a good idea to make sure your visuals are easy to read at a distance.

Leave an impact with your ending:

Your conclusion should make an impact. It should touch the emotions of people in some way that they will always remember what you told them.

If you are speaking on gardening and composting, you can end with a story about how you learned to garden from your late grandmother, for example. Ending with a personal story makes what you have to say special and full of thought. Then, when people leave, they’ll take your knowledge with them–both because you presented it expertly and because you inspired them with a memory of your own. 

3. Prepare for all variables. 

As with anything, be prepared for the unpredictable. Think about all the variables that could hinder you from giving your speech. Technical glitches usually rank among the top snafus, so have a back-up plan just in case there are electronic malfunctions. You worked hard on this! Your words need to be spoken!

Then, dress for the occasion and be confident. Speak up! No one wants to struggle to hear you, nor do they want to look at a messy messenger. A crisp, clean appearance and well enunciated words will make you all the more successful.

And afterwards, celebrate! Congratulate yourself on a job well done. 

Jessica Reynolds loves spending time with her family and living life through photography and art. She has spent considerable time running her own businesses while raising her kids. Currently, she blogs for postersession.com.

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Filed under Academic Success, Reading, technology

Quick and Easy Review Activity

by Kelli Lewis

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Want an easy way to review concepts you’re currently studying? Make a “Talk About It Box”! A “Talk About It Box” is simply a small box (like an empty tissue box) that’s been decorated and filled with question strips that relate to a current topic of study. During lulls in the day (or transition times), you can pull out a strip and call on a student to answer the question. You could even pull one for every student and tell them that as soon as they answer their question, they can line up for lunch/ get their coat for recess/ stand behind their chair, etc.

To make this, you’ll need:

  • an empty Kleenex box
  • construction paper
  • markers
  • strips of cardstock paper OR index cards (laminated if you want to reuse them)
  • stickers or other decorative materials (optional)

1.) First, cover the tissue box with construction paper, leaving the hole open at the top.

2.) Think of prompts or questions to write on the strips or cards. These questions can relate to a current unit (How many planets are in our solar system?) or be general discussion questions (What’s one new thought you had during science today?). They could even be “get to know you” questions (What’s your favorite game to play at home?)

3.) Use markers, stickers, and any other decorative materials to decorate your box.

4.) Place the prompt/question strips/cards into the top hole of the box, and voila! You’re ready to go!

When to “Talk About It”:

This is a great way to keep kids engaged during transition times, and also an impressive way to use ‘down time’ if an administrator pops in while you’re lining up for lunch or switching between subjects! Substitute teachers could even use it if they’re in your room and need a way to control chaos when returning after lunch or specials.

How to Fill the Question Strips:

You could have students come up with their own prompts/questions if you teach older grades. For younger grades, here are just a few to get you started:

-Name two things that you would find in the kitchen.

-What are two words that start with the /f/ sound?

-What is the last letter in the alphabet?

-Name three types of fruit.

-Name two pieces of clothing you would wear in the winter.

-What noise would you make if you were a cow?

-What number comes after 10?

-Name two words that end with a /t/ sound.

-Name a green vegetable.

-Name a primary color.

Now, go Talk About It!

Kelly Lewis is a graduate student a The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.


Filed under Activities, Assessments, Behavior Management, Classroom Community

Part III: Assessing Your Wax Museum

Recently, we posted about a great culminating activity for a biography or history unit: A Wax Museum! Now, it’s time to talk about how to grade this project.

So, your students researched historical figures, wrote biographical sketches, created costumes,  and recited their sketches during a successful “Wax Museum.” But now, how do you devise a numerical grade from all of this activity?

A rubric is the best assessment for this activity because you can grade students on a variety of criteria and provide ample feedback–easily. For a great Wax Museum rubric, click here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this creative idea for bringing characters to life for your students!

Up next on A Learning Experience: Our favorite children’s book picks!

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Filed under Assessments, comprehension, Reading, Writing