California Educator

August / September 2018

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cite free images. Because of the speed, a speaker cannot rely on the slides as their script; there's no room for bullet points or para- graphs. is encourages students to make eye contact and speak with their back to the screen and not to the audience. The time limit reminds me of the math homework debate: If students struggle with five problems, why give them 50? And if they can conquer five, well, 50 won't add to their learning. Having students present with a strict pacing structure helps to avoid repe- tition or babbling from those students who love to talk — or those who are underprepared. A strict pacing structure also helps those students who suffer from presentation paralysis. Organizing the speech Sometimes students present independently. Other times, they work in small groups so they can divide up the Ignite Talks' verbal workload. To help them break down the outline of a collaborative speech, I give them a choice in organization. For the first option, I refer to the five steps for making a pitch like Elon Musk: 1. Name the enemy. 2. Why now? 3. Paint a picture of the promised land. 4. Explain away obstacles. 5. Win them over with evidence. I also offer an executive summary structure — background information, evidence, recommendations — to simplify a pos- sible outline even further and bring more authentic writing to their presentation. Both speech structures (Musk's and mine) basically ask the stu- dents to provide research and take a strong stance on an issue, but they can select the structure that makes the most sense to them. Either structure helps them to chunk their slides and images. Before they get started with their planning, I always go over the oral presentation rubric (see, so there are no surprises. For my most recent project-based unit, I used a speech rubric when my students presented Ignite Talks as superhero leagues, focusing on global issues that they felt passionately needed to be solved. Incidentally, the groups were heterogeneous: English learners presented alongside native English speakers, and it was an equitable success. Depending on your group of learners, you will decide which works best — TED or Ignite talks. What ultimately matters, though, is that you are taking on the charge of preparing your students to speak credibly and confidently out there in the world. Heather Wolpert-Gawron , San Gabriel Teachers Association , is a middle school teacher and PBL coach. Copyright 2018 Edutopia. org; George Lucas Educational Foundation. that by giving students just five minutes to write down their ideas about a question or topic before we talk, I get many more willing to participate and a much richer discussion. • Offer small group discussions: I often have stu- dents turn and talk to a partner or two before bringing the discussion to the whole class. This gives them time to articulate their ideas in a low-pressure setting, and they have more con- fidence when it comes time to share with the larger group. • Incorporate random selection : Early in the school year, I have students write their name on a Popsicle stick and tell them I'll use these to choose random people to contribute in our discussions from time to time. I explain to them about how shy I was when I was in high school and how, even though I rarely participated in class discussions, I had quite a bit to say — and I know that they do, too. I only use this technique when students have had the opportunity to write about and/or talk w ith o th ers ab o ut th e di s cu ssion qu e stion , because the intent is not to catch them off guard. Students still reluctant to talk when their name is drawn can ask me to come back to them after a few more people have spoken, so they have more ideas to respond to. is gives them the space and time they need to come up with something to say. • Try silent discussions: Go low-tech with a silent discussion. Students write questions at the top of a sheet of paper they tape to their desk or the classroom wall, and then they all move around the room, responding to each other's comments by writing on the papers. All students can be engaged at the same time, and it's a great way to get them up and moving around. The key to having meaning ful discussions in our classrooms is establishing a culture that values all of the voices in the room, and the more opportu- nities we give students to think, talk, and listen to each other, the more empowered they ' ll be to join the conversation. Jori Krulder, Teachers Association of Paradise, teaches at Paradise High School. Copyright 2018; George Lucas Educational Foundation. SPEAKING SKILLS Continued from page 55 discussions Continued from page 54 56 H E A D Teaching & Learning

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