WWII Speech Project

PalmerThanks to a challenge from @erikpalmer, author of Teaching the Core Skills of Listening and Speaking, I was motivated to give my students a speech assignment instead of a research paper when I finished my unit on WWII.  The assignment was fairly straightforward.  Students were allowed to select a topic from a list of 75 WWII topics. Their research was limited to five online sites from within the LAUSD Digital Library. They also needed at least five books in their research. They used http://www.easybib.com/ to create a bibliography. I explained that Google & Wikipedia ARE NOT ACADEMIC SOURCES and could not be cited. After they gathered all 10 sources, they could draft an outline or create note cards of their speech. The first draft of their speech was run through http://www.paperrater.com/ and the report was printed out or emailed to me prior to delivering the speech. The final speech was to be graded by the class based on the following rubric:

Point Structure

  1. Bibliography                  50 pts
  2. Notecards/Outline    50 pts
  3. First Draft                       50 pts
  4. Paper Rater report   100 pts (grades given ranged from 68-92)
  5. Delivering Speech     100 pts (50 pts from me & 50 points from their peers

Students who did not want to deliver their speech in class were given the option to video themselves giving the speech and post it on YouTube so we could grade the speech in class for a reduced number of points (max 80 pts). Students were given three weeks to complete their speeches and then we spent one week listening to all of them.

Interspersed throughout instruction were mini-lectures and examples on giving speeches. I had students stand up and read the first 30 seconds of their speech to see if they had a “hook” and gave them feedback on how they could improve. Additionally, they viewed the following videos:

How to write a speech outline

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4BkVmA0p6Y

Speech Opening

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAaSZ64P8pA

Speech Attention Getter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK0U0bIN-cw

Components of a Speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-aFEgoOEXQ

Speech Closing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSi7aPR1-pg

Intro to Easybib

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL_ddUHSYC4

Finding Sources

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4CHIRzlF40

The Final Numbers

Out of 197 students, only 126 (64%) completed their speeches and delivered them in front of the class. Of the 71 students who elected not to deliver their speeches in front of the class, not one chose to video themselves making the speech privately. The speeches ranged from a low of 42 seconds and a high of 5:45 (before I stopped the student, who clearly could have talked for another ten minutes). The average time of all the speeches (N=126) given was 2:59. What I found particularly astonishing was that in one of my classes 24 out of 38, or 63% of the students chose not to give their speech. Whereas in another class, only one student out of 40, or 2% elected not to perform the speech. What a difference classroom culture makes.

I was not sure whether to be happy or sad with these results. My next post will discuss how I provided feedback and how the students reflected on the process. I used this great handout from Edutopia, which contained 40 reflection questions for students.

2 thoughts on “WWII Speech Project”

  1. This sounds like a great project. I am concerned with how much time it consumes. I wonder, too, what consequences arose from students’ choices not to give a speech. Did the lack of a speech significantly affect grades?

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    1. Hi Henry, I gave students three weeks to research and write this project. Then we spent one week listening and grading all of the speeches. This brings up one of the Common Core issues. Are we going fewer, deeper standards, or are we still sprinting along the coverage treadmill? CA hasn’t given Social Studies tests for the last two years. So I’m going deeper and trying to teach skills. Other states may not give their teachers this much freedom.

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