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Monday, September 24, 2012

Tall Poppies Group Blog: Get With The Times: When Speech Making Turns Ugly!...

Tall Poppies Group Blog: Get With The Times: When Speech Making Turns Ugly!...: Get With The Times: When Speech Making Turns Ugly! Yesterday I was talking to a parent who was telling me all about the frustration she fel...
Get With The Times: When Speech Making Turns Ugly!
Yesterday I was talking to a parent who was telling me all about the frustration she felt for her child who was in the process of preparing for speech competitions at school.  The whole saga made me very frustrated too!
Here is the run down:
Class asked to write a speech and told they are not allowed to do it at home.
Child writes speech using creative writing strategies.
Peer feedback given, child told that she used big words that were hard to understand.
Child cuts out some of her adjectives.
Speech timed (needs to be 3 minutes exactly).
Speech over time so child cuts out more adjectives.
Teacher checks script, tells student to do more explaining about the terms she uses and to put explanations in brackets.
Child asks teacher "how do you say a bracket?"
Teacher says "I don't know, just put them on your cards"
Child times speech, now over time again.
Child cuts out even more adjectives.
Child write script onto cards.
Child reads speech to class.
Class fall asleep!

This is an all too familary story!  What is the learning here?
The synic in me would suggest that the lesson plan looked like this...
WALT: Create a speech that is exactly three minutes and make our writing small enough to fit onto cue cards.

Now to be fair, I don't necessarily blame the teacher or the school.  It would be fair to assume that the school has a couple of big shiny cups from years gone by that need to be handed out at school prize giving.  It would also be fair to assume that the community have an expectation that there is a school wide speech competition and  to assume that the teachers have not receive any PD on the teaching of speech making. I would also be so bold as to suggest that this is not the teachers favorite part of the curriculum.

We need to get with the times.  Our students have access to so many speech making role models through the www.  Schools need to get PD for their teachers, be brave enough to make changes and to create new traditions.  Our ability to communicate with each other, to deliver our information effectively, to connect with an audience using our oral language is just as important as other curriculum areas.  Let's teach it instead of just doing it! www.talkit.net.nz.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

One Key to Growing Skills-Take a Risk.



This year as the business has grown, we have had a focus on being better at communication.  While we have had a few hiccups along the way, putting in place new systems has been a rewarding experience. As team we can see that we need to hold onto strong communication with each other, our students and their families.  This flows through to the  programmes that we teach. It is important that our students know what is expected of them, that we communicate next steps in learning and that they received feedback and feed forward that is useful for them.  This term in the Junior Academy programme we have had a learning focus on Talks and Presentations.  I have been particularly interested to note that new students often really struggle with the concept of extemporaneous speaking.  No notes, cue cards or memorizing, just speaking naturally from a plan that we have rehearsed.  I notice that these students are often afraid to take risks, afraid to get it wrong or are worried that they might say the wrong thing.   Many schools are still advocating the “cue card” speech techniques that require memorization or reading...not speaking from your knowledge or your heart.  Taking risks in communication is the only way to make change.  Taking risks builds resilience and taking risks will make us better communicators. We need to have the tools and take some risks!