Speak Out - Facing Our Fears Head On

Why Speeches don't have to be Feared

When students feel they are in a safe and trusting learning environment, they are more willing to face their fears, fail - first attempt in learning, fall, try again and eventually, succeed. I guess that is why many English teachers leave the formal assessment of oral presentations until the second half of the year. Well, that is our intention anyway. By building up trust, courage and several opportunities to speak, in many different contexts, our learners, despite their fears, are ready to face their fear. Their fear of public speaking is real and terrifying, that is, unless, you keep it real, keep it low key and disguise it through formative opportunities, design thinking, making and speaking.

This term, following on from the students own choice of novel study, based around the broad theme of 'Friendships that make and Measure Us', and our Film Study, we have moved into 'We all Need Heroes' OR 'Ordinary People, Heroic Acts' - your choice.
Students' defining their topics, with a little help from Shrek 2
Providing scaffolds for students to collate, process and summarise ideas using templates, current newspaper articles, questioning dice / matrix, library time to teach information literacy, debating hot topics, will all help them to overcome their fear of speaking. You see, I believe that knowledge is power - if you know what you are talking about, it is much easier to deliver with confidence. Arming students with the inquiry process, the ability to discern information and to make judgments, draw conclusions and formulate opinions, based on evidence, then the so what? and what if? can be articulated.
Obtaining their prior knowledge is helpful too. It avoids over half the class switching off, it engages, involves and empowers them. Look at what the Year 9 students suggested below.

- Helpful Hints -

Once they selected their information, decided on their presentation format and logically sequenced their work, it was time to bring their information to life, to explore their selected hero, or to argue that perhaps, we don't need heroes at all. Here, there were many great opportunities to start the talking, or should I say debating. We tried informal debates, group slams and the donut pair and share. We took our talking outside, with impromptu speeches, speed talking, no umms...you name it, we tried it.

Donuts - pair & share
As you can tell from the photos, the students look composed, happy to be sharing, talking and laughing. This is what speaking should be about. Engaging students and showing them speeches are not to be feared. Giving them the ability to voice their views, opinions, ideally with confidence and flair.
Mix and Mingle - speed talking
Speak Out!

On a continuum, students rated themselves  from most confident to least confident speakers
Next, the most confident students offered sound advice to the less confident students - with a big Good Luck cheer at the end. You can check it out their advice here.

Key Points:

- Trust = Success
- Knowledge is Power - activating our students prior knowledge and building on the skills and strategies for success.
Now the students are delivering their speeches. The audience actively listen and at the end of each presentation, willingly offer feedback which is Kind, Specific and Helpful. I love that the students are honest and confident in their feedback, PLUS the added bonus of further oral practice for their own speech! I am looking forward to conducting a REVIEW with them via Google Form to evaluate the students' perceptions and reflections. Tune in!
Kate Sheppard - ordinary person, heroic act
 We all Need Heroes - don't we?
Clear Slide Presentation enhances speech
Ordinary Person, Heroic Act
Clear argument presented, with relevant examples
Here are some sound bites from our experiences: 
Heroes, Hero? plus Feedback.