California Educator

August / September 2018

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I T ' S B E E N A long time since schools focused solely on the three R's — reading, writing and arithmetic. Along the way, we realized that there's so much more that defines a successful student and citizen, and that schools play a central role in training students to improve on a multitude of skills and abilities. As outlined in the State Standards, for example, we are now tasked to teach a set of speaking skills. More and more businesses are citing the ability to speak and communicate comprehensively as vital skills in both hiring and professional success. For K-12 teachers, this means more targeted lessons focused on oral pre- sentation and verbal assessment. e fear of public speaking, or glossophobia, strikes almost 80 per- cent of our general population. row in our country's percentage of English learners, which ranges from 10 to 25 percent of our K-12 pop- ulation (depending on the state), and you have an issue that requires precise scaffolding to help prepare our students to hit grade-level speaking expectations. So how can we challenge students to improve their oral presentation skills? Striving for equity I used to use TED talks as my oral presentation template, as many teachers do. As an English language arts teacher and recently retired coach of one of the largest middle school speech and debate teams in the country, I've relied on TED talks for both exemplars and research. But I found that despite my scaffolds, there was still a great divide in final presentation quality between those who could and those who couldn't. Enter Ignite Talks. TED and Ignite talks have some similarities, but it's their key dif- ferences that have worked out better for my high- and low-ability Honing Students' Speaking Skills Guidelines for teaching all students to speak credibly and confidently By Heather Wolpert-Gawron learners, native speakers, and English learners, and for both extroverted and introverted students. Here's what these speech platforms have in common: They both use the format of advocacy : hook, back- ground information, evidence, and a call to action. And they both blend writing genres — memoir/anecdote, argument/persuasive, and informational/expository — rather than segregate them. And here's how they differ : Ignite Talks include spe- cific timing and pacing guidelines, where TED talks do not. ese guidelines, I find, work to bring out the best in all learners, leveling the playing field for students. In fact, with the Ignite Talks rules, I found that students who liked to talk were forced to be more concise. And those who were fearful really only had to muster their courage for a short, set period of time. Ignite Talks break down as follows: 20 slides, with 15 seconds per slide = 5 minutes. The slides are set to advance automatically, and because of this, they must be highly visual. So, there's an opening to teach symbolism as well as how to find and Continued on page 56 Structure for a TED Talk The TEDx Speaker Guide says there are many possible structures for their maxi- mum-18-minute talks, but the following one works well: 1. Start by making your audience care, using a relatable example or an intriguing idea. 2. Explain your idea clearly and with conviction. 3. Describe your evidence and how and why your idea could be implemented. 4. End by addressing how your idea could affect your audience if they were to accept it. The guide says that whatever structure is decided on, remember the primary goal is to communicate an idea effectively, not to tell a story or to evoke emotions. These are tools, not an end in themselves. Also remember that structure should be invisible to the audi- ence. In other words, don't talk about how you're going to talk about your topic — just talk about it! 55 A U G U S T / S E P T E M B E R 2 018 T

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