Week 19 2013: Public Speaking


For reasons I’m not going to go into, many of my plans for the classroom did not come to fruition. The one lesson I did manage to teach my students though, was just FABULOUS!

First, I must thank Andrew Dlugan at the Six Minutes site. This site is a great resource on public speaking and presentations for adults, but much of the material is accessible enough to use with older children (10+ years) with some modification. I wanted to prepare students to create and deliver persuasive speeches. To do this, I looked for resources on the three elements of persuasion; ethos, pathos, and logos. The article at Six Minutes seemed the best for my purposes. I asked some questions , and Mr. Dlugan contacted me via email when he heard about what I was planning to do. I found him to be quite helpful, and generous in his materials. I did end up re-writing a bit to make the language more accessible to my students, and to give them time for a response so I could check their understanding.

Here was what I came up with for a slide-deck:

Some other parts that I added were, between the Ethos and Pathos slides, I showed students video of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords testimony on gun violence before the U.S. Senate, and asked them some questions about her delivery and ethos without telling them her story (one student knew it already). I wanted them to think that while good delivery is important, her experience as a victim of gun violence gives her a very strong ethos in her speaking, however difficult her delivery.

What did the kids learn? I asked them three questions: What is your strength in terms of ethos? What is a story that Martin Luther King, Jr. includes in his “I Have a Dream”  speech? What is most important, ethos, pathos, or logos? Looking at their quick-writes, the biggest issue some of the kids have is identifying what strengths, in terms of ethos, they bring to public speaking. I will have to work on that over the next few weeks. They could all pretty much cite some story from “I Have a Dream” about what MLK dreamed of happening. I was really impressed with what they wrote about which element was most important. There were a variety of answers (a sign of independent thinking, rather than regurgitation), with all three being picked for a variety of reasons. Ethos, was often cited in terms of delivery. Students focus on that because it is the one quality that they feel they are most likely to have in speaking, not being old enough to have a professional reputation. Logos, appealed to those who wanted facts, and Pathos to those who favored emotional appeals.

Going forward, I will be working with them on picking out topics, and coming up with arguments using each of the three persuasive appeals. I’ll also be working with tone, and volume with short sentences, for a few of them to build up their confidence in speaking. Many of them are already strong, and opinionated speakers, and will not need help on this, but for those who do, I think short form will work best. This will all culminate in about 3-4 weeks from now. I’ll try to share it goes.

I could not have done this with the assistance of Mr. Dlugan. He would like to hear how materials on his site are being used, so if you do please share.

Photo Credit: 19signs by adonis hunter / ahptical, on Flickr

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