Category Archives: Public Speaking

Measures of Effective Listening

Thirty-two years ago, Donald E. Powers wrote Considerations for Developing Measures of Speaking & Listening. It was published by the College Board, which expresses how important these measures are to a student’s academic success, particularly in their Advanced Placement programs, yet has not validated any standardized tests to measure these skills. This synthesis on some of the research on listening offers advice to teachers enrolled in our MOOC Teaching Speaking & Listening Skills

Research shows that students can listen 2-3 grade levels above what they can read. Listening while reading helps people have successful reading events, where they read with enjoyment and accuracy. Listening while reading has been shown to help with decoding, a fundamental part of reading. The average person talks at a rate of about 125 to 175 words per minute, while we listen and comprehend up to 450 words per minute (Carver, Johnson, & Friedman, 1970).

Listening has been identified as one of the top skills employers seek in entry-level employees as well as those being promoted. Even though most of us spend the majority of our day listening, it is the communication activity that receives the least instruction in school (Coakley & Wolvin, 1997). On average, viewers who just watched and listened to the evening news can only recall 17.2% of the content.

Listening is critical to academic success. Conaway (1982) examined an entire freshman class of over 400 students. They were given a listening test at the beginning of their first semester. After their first year of college, 49% of students scoring low on the listening test were on academic probation, while only 4.42% of those scoring high on the listening test were on academic probation. On the other hand, 68.5% of those scoring high on the listening test were considered Honors Students after the first year, while only 4.17% of those scoring low attained the same success.

Students do not have a clear concept of listening as an active process that they can control. Students find it easier to criticize the speaker as opposed to the speaker’s message (Imhof, 1998). Students report greater listening comprehension when they use the metacognitive strategies of asking pre-questions, interest management, and elaboration strategies (Imhof, 2001). Listening and nonverbal communication training significantly influences multicultural sensitivity (Timm & Schroeder, 2000).

Understanding is the goal of listening. Our friend Erik Palmer suggests before students engage in purposeful listening, their teachers should tell them what to attend to. We need to teach students what to respond to, how to respond, and when to respond. For example, today we are going to listen to five speeches. For each speech, we are only listening for LIFE. After each speaker finishes, clap, then take a minute to evaluate the level of passion they put into their speech. After that write down three suggestions on how they could improve the LIFE in their speech (i.e., instead of emphasizing: you stole my red hat, try stressing, you stole my red hat).

A classroom teacher who reads Powers (1984) College Board study will understand that speaking, listening, reading and writing are all tightly correlated. Empirically measuring oral communication skills requires many hours of assessment on small, controlled populations. It is the opposite of what we experience in public schools where it is not feasible for us to precisely measure each skill. The important takeaway here is that teachers need to prepare their students to actively listen, avoid distractions, and teach listening and speaking with core academic content by training students to evaluate how well various speaking functions are accomplished by their classmates. While there are reliability issues with classroom peer review models, the benefits of “learning by evaluation” far outweigh the negatives.

References

http://www.listen.org/WhitePaper

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html

http://d1025403.site.myhosting.com/files.listen.org/Facts.htm

http://www.csun.edu/~hcpas003/effective.html

Semester End Deadlines

The 15 week grades revealed that many of my 9th graders are having time management challenges. The purpose of this post is to provide clear expectations for all semester end projects and deadlines for all of my World History classes.

50 pts The Plot Against America Reading Log Dec. 7
100 pts The Plot Against America Character Time Line Dec. 7
100 pts Holocaust Survivor Poem Dec. 14
50 pts Video Notes Dec. 14
100 pts Holocaust Survivor Art Piece Dec. 14
50 pts Video Notes Dec. 14
100 pts Holocaust Survivor Essay-Speech Dec. 14
50 pts Video Notes Dec. 14
600 points for your final grade. Late work will not be accepted

Students in my class started reading The Plot Against America on Monday, October 26th. For the first week, students listened to the audio book as they read. After five days, I took the training wheels off and asked students to start keeping a daily log of what page numbers they read and to summarize what happened in a reading log.

Char Evo Timeline.jpg

A Character Evolution Timeline from Olson, Scarcella & Matuchniak (2015) requires a reader to review the sequence of events that occur in a text and to plot it out graphically, much like a storyboard. However, in the graphic display, the reader can chart a character’s changing emotions by selecting: (1) a facial expression to reveal the character’s emotions during key events; (2) a quote that illustrates why or how the character experiences this emotion; and (3) a symbol to characterize that emotion. Beneath the quote, the reader needs to write an interpretation of the impact of the event on the character in his or her own words. This exercise in character analysis and forming interpretations helps students detect motivation and bias in historical texts. Students must complete a character log on one of the characters from The Plot Against America with at least 10 events. The timeline (at least 10 events) and the reading log (with at least 20 entries) are due on December 72015 at 3:00 pm.

All my World History students will complete their study of the Holocaust by creating entries that commemorate a Holocaust survivor’s eyewitness testimony. Students must turn in annotated notes for the testimony that inspires each poem, essay, and art piece they complete. Some students may find it helpful to use Video Notes to organize their thoughts on each testimony.

PROMPT: As you listen to the oral testimony of a Holocaust survivor or rescuer, you may sense a change in tone that makes you stop and listen again. Something about the way the person speaks tells you that this memory matters in a special way. For the survivor or rescuer, this memory needs telling forward.

All entries and supporting materials are due by 3:00 pm on Monday, December 14th. Poem and Essay entries must be typed and in 12 point Times New Roman Font, single-spaced. Art and poetry entries must include a 100-word artist’s statement containing: the title of the work; the name of the survivor to whose testimony this work is a response, and a statement of how this work addresses the prompt. The name and class period of the person creating the entry should NOT APPEAR on the front of the entry. Keep all identifying information on the back of the entry.

View the contest’s complete rules here:

All entries will be blind judged by a panel of Kennedy teachers who will choose the top three entries that will be entered in Chapman University’s 17th Annual Holocaust Art and Writing Contest. Students will be eligible to win the first prize of $500 and the second prize of $250 in each category in the high school competition. The first place winner in each category, recipient’s parent/guardian and teacher are all invited to participate in an expense-paid study trip June 21-25, 2014, to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and other sites in Washington D.C.

Websites for Survivor Testimonies

http://www.the1939society.org/projects/

http://sfi.usc.edu/teach_and_learn/student_opportunities/chapman

http://www.youtube.com/uscshoahfoundation

To understand the level of competition in this contest, please review these examples of Previous Winners. Please note that Dr. Petri has been known to generously award bonus points to students who turn in their projects ahead of schedule. Manage your time wisely.

Marie Antoinette Speech Assignment

I operate a flipped classroom where my content lectures are delivered online, this allows my World History students to spend class time readiMarie Antoinetteng Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser. Four days per week, we have 30 minutes of sustained silent reading (SSR) where students maintain an unfamiliar word log, then one day per week, we have small group discussions where they practice using the words in their logs. To master Common Core speaking and listening standards, my students will need to give a three minute speech on (1) Marie Antoinette’s childhood, (2) her marriage to Louis XVI, (3) her role as a mother, (4) her performance as Queen of France, or (5) her overall historical legacy. Students will be divided into groups at random and assigned one of these general topics. Speeches will be given over the next month as we complete the book and study the French Revolution.

This post covers how students will brainstorm in small groups to choose a topic, a purpose, and create a roadmap for their speeches. The advice comes from a combination of our school’s Academic Decathlon coach, the awesome Ms. Kerry Sego and the inspiring work of Erik Palmer and his excellent book Well Spoken: Teaching Speaking To All Students.

Topic: This is the subject of your speech. In this case, it is about Marie Antoinette. Will it focus on her relationship with her father, mother, siblings, husband, children, her subjects, or other royals? Will the speech be about growing up a Habsburg, Marie Antoinette’s schooling, or the role of music in her life?

Purpose: This is the point your speech will be making. Was Marie Antoinette was a victim of her mother’s ambitions? Do you want to call attention to her philanthropic gifts? Should she be remembered as the greatest Queen of France? Or for never maturing beyond her selfish, teenage indulgences?

Provide a Road Map: Give your listeners an overview of your topic and purpose. Make sure your main points are clearly stated. Use transitions such as first, another example, next, and finally. Refer back to your main point so the examples seem connected to it. This is where you demonstrate that you can move beyond merely possessing knowledge to creating something meaningful that can inspire an authentic audience.

Introduction: Does it state your topic? Does it clearly state your purpose? Do you begin with an attention-grabber?

Body Paragraphs:  Do you have interesting examples? Quotes? Statistics? People? Does your speech progress from point to point clearly? How can you move evenly from one idea to another?

Conclusion: Does the ending of the speech summarize what you have said rather than merely restate or repeat it? Does the speech end with a strong or interesting point? What should the audience do with the information you have given them?

Tone: Your speech is not a formal expository essay. Spice it up with stories, imagery, humor, and background knowledge that your audience will appreciate. There are sensitive and fascinating insights in this book that offer a thoroughly nuanced picture of the queen. How do you want them presented?

After you have written your speech:

  1. Read it aloud, slowly, pausing for emphasis (remember your audience is listening, without being able to read what you have written), so you must present your information slowly.
  2. Time your speech. It must be between 2:30 – 3:00 minutes.
  3. Type it (if you can) double-spaced.
  4. Save it on your computer. This way you can make changes easily.

speech-writing

Delivery:

  1. Memorize your entire speech. This is a must.
  2. Present your speech, do not read it, or act it out. Use a senator’s voice.
  3. Look your audience in the eyes, glancing now and then to your written copy.
  4. Stand still. Do not play with your papers, sway back and forth, or twirl your hair.
  5. Revise your speech. Make necessary changes for an easier delivery.