Wednesday, October 1, 2014

For the Professors, Part 1: Tips for Finding Classtime for More Student Speeches

This content will clearly not be relevant for all readers, but this information was well-received by a faculty group recently, so I thought I'd share, just in case. 

How to make sure there is enough classtime for requiring more student speeches in your classes. These are tips for reducing the classtime spent on the how-tos of speaking and how to provide for more practice opportunities for them. You still need to find some classtime for at least one big graded speech. There is no way around that, really. Increasing the amount of online content/work in your class when you can allows for more time for this.

1.     They speak on course content; you orally critique accuracy of content immediately but give actual speech grade later. (They learn it better by processing & teaching. You immediately see the accuracy of their understanding, unlike lecture. This is high-impact work).
2.      Assign speech-watching (TED, YouTube, conference proceedings, etc.) as additional homework on the subject matter for the day. If you quiz, ask about content and oral communication and the links between them. Ex: “How does David Carson’s organizational style support or detract from his argument about design?” or “Are Svante Pääbo’s visual aids sufficient to explain his methodology for DNA analysis?”
3.     Use speeches in place of some workshop days (if you use that in your classes already).
4.     Make use of impromptu work. This is where you really see what they can do with your content. If they show up to class and are given a group project, 30 minutes of classtime and a 2-3 minute maximum, this will be very high-impact, especially if you never lecture on the material and this relies on their completion of reading/homework. I have actually found this to work better than discussion in many cases. 
5.     Replace quizzes with speeches. This has a downside for the students who speak early in the semester. Why read after that? So I haven’t used this in a while, but perhaps you could develop something better?
6.     Rethink your final exam. If you can deliver this exam electronically in in take-home format, you can use the final exam period very efficiently for final presentations.
7.     Rethink paper assignments, when appropriate. Many papers benefit from being turned into speeches.
I have examples of assignments and activities for all of these if anyone is interested. Just comment or send me an email.


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