The First Round

My communication class delivered its first round of speeches today.

Sigh.

I had a couple of really great presentations; so great that I was actually a little surprised.  One girl did a lovely, logical, and clear speech about the history of the Beatles and, though she was nervous as hell, she managed to pull off one of the better performances of the morning.

My winner kid offered up a presentation about police dogs that was informative, easy to follow, and crazy-interesting.  He did a fantastic job, and I held him back after class was over to tell him so.

The rest of the class, though, delivered what can best be described as average speeches.  This doesn’t surprise or dishearten me, though; the first speeches are NEVER really that great, and I don’t grade them particularly harshly as a result.  Kids are nervous, they don’t have a whole lot of practice organizing their thinking (or putting together decent notes or prompts for themselves) and they haven’t quite figured out yet what their “style” is.  Usually, by the end of the semester they’ve got a better idea of who they are “on stage” and end up delivering far better presentations as a result.

I learned a LOT from this morning’s speeches, though.  For starters, we need to work HARD on introductions and conclusions.  With the exception of the two aformentioned kids, EVERY SINGLE STUDENT started his or her speech with “I did mine on…” or some variation of that theme.  On the other end, EVERY SINGLE STUDENT (including, sadly the two aformentioned students) finished their speeches with “that’s all I’ve got…” or some variation on that theme.

Um…yeah… that’s not gonna cut it.

Wednesday’s class is going to be about introductions and conclusions, because I just can’t stand it.

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6 Comments

Filed under concerns, frustrations, I love my job, speaking, success!, the good ones

6 responses to “The First Round

  1. As a high school teacher, what can I do better to have students ready for your courses? Intros and conclusions are always tough for my students. I am curious.

  2. Eddie, I’m still trying to figure out where I believe the essential problem lies. I go back and forth between blaming the schools these kids came from and blaming the kids themselves. There’s a post coming on that thinking… watch this space.

    Certainly, there’s a lack of writing skill at play here, and I think that lack comes mostly from a reluctance on the part of the students to practice. I’m not sure to what extent you meet with resistance, but it seems as though my students would rather do ANYTHING but write sometimes.

    I’m also thinking that these kids haven’t been exposed to enough GOOD examples for them to model. I may be giving them far more benefit of doubt than is strictly necessary, but I’m not sure that, even if they COULD write well, they’d know how to compose interesting and effective introductions and conclusions. A big part of my lesson planning for today has involved showing them what good speeches do at their beginnings and endings, and having them practice putting a couple of intros and conclusions together themselves.

    Wish me luck; I fear I’ll really need it.

  3. bev

    I’m fuzzy on the details because it was so long ago, but I’m sure I had a speech teacher in either high school or college explicitly say that “I did mine on…” and “that’s all I got” were not acceptable introductions or conclusions.

    Two things: I was in debate in high school, so that might have had something to do with it.

    And my undergraduate degree is in Communications, so that might have more to do with it.

    But still, some of my fellow debaters and communicators would have stuck with lame intros and summaries had not someone said not to be lame.

  4. Tonks

    The opening and closing tend to end up like that from lack of practice and effort. They don’t finish their presentation, they merely run out of things to say. And that’s all I’ve got :)

  5. Every time my son writes a paper draft, it starts of with “My report is on…” After a few rounds of argument, I finally convince him to change it. He knows better, yet, it’s still his initial thought on paper.

    But, I wonder… There probably aren’t that many parents even proofreading papers with their 7th graders (and beyond).

  6. Man, Chili, I wish I could take your course!

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