Tag Archives: Student Speeches

Learning from Student Reflection

This year, I have made a concerted effort to build reflective prompts into the end of every project in my History classes. As I read through these responses (180 at a time), I have a hard time separating the superficial responses from meaningful commentary that indicates in-depth reflection. This post will detail how I am seeking to improve in this area. The problem of practice that I am trying to improve is the playlist (personalized) approach to learning that I have implemented this year. I have learned that giving students too many learning options and activities stresses them out. Instead of helping them focus and improve their time management challenges, the playlist approach may cause a small population of students to misuse their class time, shy away from challenging work, and fail to accept enough responsibility for their learning. The reflections that I ask the students to complete are designed to give me some insight as to their work habits, problem-solving abilities, and creative process.

Costa & Kallick (2008) describe in-depth reflection as making specific reference to the learning event, providing examples and elaboration, making connections to other learning, and discussing modifications based on insights from this experience.


Including guiding questions like these: (What resources did you find useful while working on this project? What did you learn about your work ethic, creativity and performance skills as you worked on your speech? Which was more difficult completing the Flipgrid or delivering the speech in front of class? How did PaperRater help you with this project? Thinking about your PVLEGS (Poise, Voice, Life, Eye Contact, Gestures & Speed) growth area, how will you improve this skill before your next speech performance? What part of this project are you most proud of? What would you change if you had a chance to do this project over again?) guarantees that a significant population of students will not delve into the dangerous area of original thought.

This student didn’t even bother to construct a narrative and instead answered my questions as succinctly as possible. I found the teleprompter extremely useful. It helped me manage my time with my speech and eliminate the unnecessary information which was a very important factor. The articles you provided for us on strong openings/conclusions were useful as well. I learned that I work a lot better under pressure than I do normally. I learned that the most challenging part of writing the speech is not finding the information but delivering it to your audience. Listening to my peers giving their speech made me realize that creating an interesting speech is far more difficult than maintaining interest on a poorly written one. It is difficult for me to discern whether this student really put any effort into this project, or got anything out of it. 

Another student, listed several very specific goals to improve her next speech.  
I need to work on staying still while I present my speech because I was shifting my body side to side. I also should’ve practiced using the teleprompter more because it would have improved my performance while I was presenting. I wouldn’t have been as paranoid about messing up if I would’ve been more familiar with the software. I really enjoyed completing this project because it was the most entertaining project that I’ve done in this class. I’m usually good when it comes to managing my time, but for this assignment, I let it all slip. Next time I have speech assignment
 or any other assignment, I will plan out my schedule more appropriately to complete everything that needs to be completed on time. 

One of my repeat customers (a student who had me for World History in 9th grade and now has me again for US History in 11th grade) provided examples and elaboration.
Working on this speech I truly saw an improvement in my writing style. I realized that with this speech i was able to turn some not to interesting information into a somewhat interesting speech. A source of information that I found super helpful was the book Dr. Petri gave me Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq. This was very helpful because it gave me a very detailed and wide view into the overthrowing of Queen Liliuokalani, as well as the overthrowing of Hawaii in order for it to become part of the United States. My work ethic has improved greatly since my freshman year with Dr. Petri, who even said that I have improved since then. As well as my creativity, I remember when I would normally do essays and/or speeches I would not make them very creative they would just be filled with a lot of boring information that no one cares about. But for this speech, I was much more creative especially with the way I started. For example, “Your brother dies, oh but let’s not forget he is the King of Hawaii. You, a woman, has to step up to the throne and be the next one in line to run Hawaii. This was how Liliuokalani, became Queen Liliuokalani on January 29, 1891.” I wanted to catch the audience’s attention from the very beginning and I wanted to keep it that way.

Showcasing student reflections that make specific references to the learning event, provide examples and elaboration, make connections to other learning activities, and discuss modifications (or lessons learned) based on insights from this experience can help students improve their reflections and learn from their mistakes. This slideshow illustrates how I use student exemplars with the whole class to improve subsequent reflections. Although I am having some problems with a small population of my students using this playlist approach, anecdotally I can say that I am getting higher-quality, original work and more engagement from the vast majority of the students in my classes. Reading their comments and compliments as they recognize their own talents and growth inspires my teaching.

Example A
Each component 
I did better than last time. I realized that I got more work done in the amount of time I set for myself. With that being said my performance in this class is getting way better, I’m not as lazy and I am actually happy to be doing work, at the end, it feels great to be done with assignments either on time or earlier. Helping me improve my performance can be really easy, you can do that by working with all the due dates and giving extra time, which won’t really be necessary now because I’ve changed my ways.

Example B
At the beginning when we started I didn’t really know anything about this subject. I’ve done similar work in this class before and other classes like English too. I think I’ve gotten better because I’m used to having to finish certain work by the due date and making sure
I finish it all. I think what I should improve on is my note-taking because I’m not really the best at that and I feel like I should write more notes.I think I did pretty good on all my work besides my notes because my notes weren’t really much and I feel like I could’ve written more notes that could be more helpful. I think my project was good because I had good info. to support what I was saying in my podcast. What I would like to improve on is note-taking because I need to work on writing more.

Example C
I did well on my project, but I could really improve by trying to do it ahead of time because I really waited last minute to finish the project. I’ve could have done so much better if I really focused on my project. The way you can help me solve this problem is by making the due dates shorter so that it motivates me to finish faster and the rest of my work would be much neater.

I feel like this has been my best semester ever and am excited to return to work after the Winter Break. I am interested in hearing from other teachers who have been inspired by goal-setting and growth mindset. What have you learned from student reflections?

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


Speech Opening


Speech Attention Getter


Components of a Speech


Speech Closing


Intro to Easybib


Finding Sources


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.