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Monday, September 24, 2012

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.

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