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Thursday, October 9, 2014

For the Professors, Part 2: Some Tips on Teaching and Grading Public Speeches


This is more content that will be boring to most but really valuable to a few. These are some tips on how to grade speeches in class more efficiently and how to feel confident in doing so. Back to controversial stuff next week!

1.       Open the Wizard of Oz’s curtain. You do not need to pretend you are great at everything. I tell them I am a nervous speaker. It is obvious that I talk too fast, etc. Make it a teachable moment and have them evaluate your speaking. Have them, as groups, tell you the one thing you need to work on the most. Whether you are a force of nature or a whispering breeze in front of the class, this is useful. They can pierce your Armor of Awesomeness™ and see that they can do it too. Or it lets them know that perfection is not required to be an effective speaker. If they use a rubric to evaluate you, so much the better for them learning expectations.
Only by looking at yourself like this will you get better and feel confident in what you are doing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJiVpD43rQs
2.       Record yourself. You have a phone or a laptop or a camera. Try it during a real class period. (Tell them it is for “assessment.” They will pity you). Watch yourself. A drink or two later and you will be ready to honestly evaluate what you do well and what you need to work on. You could also post it up on YouTube and see what happens?? Or you can send it to me :).

3.       Grading speeches quickly and accurately with a rubric. You need to develop a system which allows you to be able to grade these in-class. If you have to record them and grade them later, you have just destroyed your happiness and all free time, assuming you have some free time. Mine has 52 parts. It seems complex, but it allows me to check boxes instead of writing comments down, which is soooooo much more time-consuming. Everything I would ever want to say is here. I can apply the entire thing for a 5 minute speech.

4.       Focus grading for specific assignments. There is no need to grade all parts for every speech. I often grade speeches only for one thing at a time, like introductions or organization. It helps them learn and build skills and makes it more likely that you can get through. You might also notice in the rubric above that I sometimes grade content without tallying it, so they can get feedback but not be responsible, grade-wise, for mistakes.

5.       Outsource this to the class. Make them use the rubrics to grade each other. Collect them and give them to the speaking students (you might want to drop the lowest few and highest few to correct for people who just hate/love each other). Don’t tally it for grades, just for feedback. After all, they are learning this to appeal to audiences of all kinds, not just you. You can reduce the paperwork load by having only a few students do this each time. And you can grade the evaluators on how accurately they use the rubric, which is helpful in multiple ways.

6.       Outsource this to the speakers themselves. I have often used an assignment where they have to record themselves and grade themselves before they get a grade from me. It is a fine thing to have to watch yourself speak (as with point 2. above). You can order them to have a charged phone, give it to a classmate and have them recorded on their own device. 

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