Speech class activities

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by GatorGal, Jul 31, 2007.

  1. GatorGal

    GatorGal Cohort

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    Jul 31, 2007

    I've done a little research online, but we all know the best ideas come from A to Z'ers. :wub:

    Upon learning that I will be teaching a semester of speech (one class composed of 9-12 graders), I've been on the hunt for some ways to make it fun, while minimalizing the stress students may feel while speaking in front of their peers. I remember being terrified to stand up and speak in front of people when I was younger, so I really want to create a class that is relaxing and comfortable for everyone.

    Anyone have any ideas for some icebreaker activities I can have them do in the first few days of school? I'll be on block scheduling, so I have plenty of daily time to work with. I was thinking along the lines of maybe a short 1-2 min speech on themselves...but maybe something a little more creative. :confused: Maybe a skit or something?

    Can :anyone: help? I'll be the only one teaching the class in the school, and I can't find any sort of syllabus/activities that last year's teacher used.
     
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  3. Lyquidphyre

    Lyquidphyre Comrade

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    Jul 31, 2007

    I remember a few things from when I took speech in HS. One thing we did was we had to find lyrics from a song and play a piece of the music for the class and then we gave a speech about being that person in the song. We got to make up a story behind the song sort of thing.

    But my FAVORITE is we had a mock trail and jury and everyone had their part and we broke up in teams to try and figure out the best way to win our case.
     
  4. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Jul 31, 2007

    Hi Gator,

    I THOUGHT I was going to teach a speech elective class this year, but it turns out I'm not. I searched the internet for speech activities/lessons and couldn't find any. I ended up buying a book by Carol Marrs called The Complete book of Speech Communication: A Workbook of Ideas and Activities of Speech and Theatre.

    It's a good book. It gives you the basic info you need to know if you want to do some lecture. I don't know if you have a textbook or not, but you could definitely use this as a springboard for your curriculum.
    It has a whole year's worth of activities.

    A couple of good ones for the beginning of the year is to have students pair up with each other. They introduce themselves, and they interview each other. Each person will give a short speech on what they have learned about the other person.


    I still remember my high school speech class. It was one of the best classes I every took. I am a pretty shy guy and I hate getting up in front of my peers (kids are no problem), but I really enjoyed the class. We had to do a lot of speeches, but it was so fun to learn about everyone of my classmates. We did instructional speeches where we had to give a speech on how to do something, we gave a speech on somebody who you considered your hero. We did a lot of debates which were so cool. We had a mock trial and so much more. It was awesome.

    Another one is The Name Game where the first person states his/her name and something interesting about themselves.
    Ex. My name is _____________ and I like _______________.

    Then, once the first person is done, you randomly select people. The next person would have to say the first person's name and interesting fact, then his/her name and an interesting fact. And so on...

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Jul 31, 2007

    Perhaps start with just reading aloud. Use a readers-theatre technique, or some other play/drama. Use choral reading. Your students will be at all different levels. First and foremost, make sure they know it's okay if they aren't perfect.

    I taught Shakespeare to 10th grade special education students. It was their first expose to it. After spending a whole day on the characters, and a whole day on plot overview (for Romeo and Juliet), we went to the stage! We moved around a bit, got a feel for stage directions, then I passed out the prologue. I recited it, and then read half-lines, and then repeated it (and the students joined). I did this for the whole prologue, then I had them read it all aloud with me (after going line-by-line explaining it). I stressed that it was okay if they didn't know all the words or couldn't pronounce them all or it they tripped up. By the end of the class, everyone was reading!

    I recommend taking a piece and reading it aloud. Familiarity will give students more courage. Reading in a group will allow them to "hide" any mistakes. The goal is to get them comfortable. Even if you use Shakespeare, you could do the whole: "you just read Shakespeare aloud--you can read nearly anything now!"

    Start with some group activities and maybe some projection games (have them close their eyes and go on an imaginary rollercoster ride; tell them when they're going up, and when they're going down; let them scream!). Play with volume--whispering, talking over noise, making their voice "hit" the opposite wall and bounce back (a mental thing).

    Then, perhaps arrange your curriculum by genre--autobiographical speech, persuasion, etc. Then, perhaps, assign a group project. Maybe have them choose an item and persuade their classmates why it's the best (or something). Have them write the speech as a team, and each team member would have to read a portion of the speech aloud.

    After some of these activities, you may be able to divide the class into groups based on comfortability and ability. 9-12 graders is a huge range of maturity and experiences. You could have certain groups have certain criteria, or mix levels to aid students.

    I would suggest your best bet is build community and comfortability first. Maybe only have them give their first speech to half a class. Or read it aloud. Memorization will come later.

    Hope this is a start. I'll be around to bounce ideas if you'd like!
     
  6. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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  7. GatorGal

    GatorGal Cohort

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    Aug 1, 2007

    Wow, these are some great responses. :thanks:

    Lyquid-I love the song lyric idea. There are only a few things I am wondering...would I suggest that students bring a cd/thumb drive version of their song to play aloud? I did something similar in a college class, and there were definitely some technological malfunctions. Also, did your HS teacher "screen" the songs first, or just go on good faith that there wouldn't be any profanity, etc? I may be over-thinking this! :unsure: I do think it's a great way to get students involved and having fun though...I love it, it's very creative!

    Terrence-I'm not sure if I have a set textbook for the class. While I was rummaging through the previous teacher's storage closet, I did find a teacher's edition, resource binder, and pre-made transparencies for the textbook Speech for Effective Communication. I'll have to find out if there is a class set floating around somewhere. I will definitely look into that Carol Marrs book if you say the activites are worthwhile. :thanks: :up:
    Thanks for those links, too! Those should keep me busy for awhile.

    ChangeAgent-I like your ideas for setting up the progression of the class. I love reader's theatre, so that is something I will definitely integrate. The imaginary roller coaster ride also sounds like a great icebreaker (though I can just imagine the teachers next door running in to make sure everyone was ok...I may have to warn them!).:lol:


    Thanks! :hugs:
     
  8. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 1, 2007

    I think I am going to start a public speaking/debate team club. I know there is an actual middle school debate team competition somewhere, so it would be cool to debate.
     
  9. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Go for it, Terrence! It sounds like a wonderful team/club to organize!
     
  10. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2007

    I was looking online at the middle school public debate team, and it doesn't seem like our district has a league, so it wouldn't be possible to have actual debate competitions, which would take the fun out of it. I was thinking of maybe doing a horticulture club where we beautify the school by planting plants, maybe do a veggies garden, etc.
     
  11. GatorGal

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    Ah, that's a bummer. The horticulture club sounds really interesting though! That's something I would have joined in high school.
     
  12. kyblue07

    kyblue07 Companion

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    Aug 2, 2007

    An interesting activity we had to do at a pd and I'm going to use on first day is completing a pair venn diagram. Two students use a venn to list similarities and differences between them and then share with the class.

    In high school we had to pick a famous person and do a 3 minute speech as if we were that person. The rest of the class had to guess who we were. Kind of typical, but it was fun and it took the risk off of 'being yourself' up there, ya know?

    Hope these help!
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 2, 2007


    If your middle school has 9th grade (some do, some don't) then they could qualify as novice debators in the national leagues. Let me know if it applies and I'll give you more info.
     
  14. GatorGal

    GatorGal Cohort

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    I love that idea...it would be very easy to research and prepare for, but also very fun! Also, I don't think I would have to worry about the rest of the class dozing off while their classmate is speaking. :2up:
     
  15. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2007

    That would be another fun thing to add to your curriculum: audience courtesy. Listening skills, applause, etc.
     
  16. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 3, 2007

    Nope, we only go up to 8th.
     
  17. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Aug 3, 2007

    When I was in speech class. Each student was required to do a certain number of speech review/critique sheets on a speaker. We would have to write down the topic, key points, what we liked about it, what we thought they could improve on, etc. To keep the class on track and force them to listen and pay attention, you can make the entire class fill out a sheet on speech days.
     
  18. Xi Fu

    Xi Fu New Member

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    Aug 3, 2007

    perhaps you can ask your drama teacher for ideas on impromptu games to play. this might be a little off topic of pure speech lessons, but it might be good to push the students to think on the spot and recall words for the right situation
     
  19. willsgirl

    willsgirl Comrade

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    Aug 4, 2007

    This would be good for any class learning Shakespeare, not just for Speech. Although, I have done this with 7/8 grade Oral Comm for Romeo and Juliet. They really liked it.
     
  20. willsgirl

    willsgirl Comrade

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    I needed an "in between units" activity once, so I took some index cards, wrote a funny key work or phrase ("eating ice cream cone in July") and students chose a card without looking at it. They had 5 mins to prepare their impromptu speech. It could not be mimed, it had to be presented orally. So, on might describe a "how to" do something, once could be an "imaginary" experience" describing something they've had little experience/no experience with, telling about something ("lion roaring'), etc. They got 3 mins to present.
    They had a good time and it seemed to help the butterflies because each kid could "be themselves" and make it funny their own way.
     
  21. SpeechCoach

    SpeechCoach New Member

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    Sep 14, 2011

    Terrence,

    Have you checked out NJFL? It's the National Junior Forensics League. They don't have district tournaments for junior high, but they do have an annual national tournament. This last year it was in Dallas, Texas and it was a lot of fun!! If you are at all interested in sponsoring a junior high speech/debate team, that is the path to go. You could also start a high school league, or find out if there is one in your area. The points the kids get from the junior high league do transfer. I think it is only 10%, but that's better than nothing! And it will help the kids going into high school! And as for First Day speech activities, I have always found that playing some games breaks the ice. We do Mad Gab because it teaches enunciation as well as allowing the kids to all make complete fools out of themselves in a fun way. It gets them to the point where they are unafraid of being up in front of each other. Or we will play some improv games such as the ones they do on Whose Line Is It Anyway? They love to act silly with each other and once they get to the point where they can do that, speeches come with no problem at all. I usually take the first two to three days to "break the ice" and the kids generally have a great time! Hope this helps!
     
  22. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    When I am at school tomorrow I can send you all of my files of improv games. It was so much fun teaching speech! We did so many fun games, at least one or two in each block.
     
  23. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I teach younger kids than you, so I do a lot of silly activities. Big hit this year was when we did the YMCA so everyone would get over feeling scared of looking ridiculous in front of everyone.

    We recite some Shel Silverstein poems, practice tongue twisters, review speeches, watch this video: http://www.vimeo.com/3829682, and do some Reader's Theater.
     
  24. sedrickh123

    sedrickh123 New Member

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    I'm currently teaching speech and would love to have your improv games
     
  25. DRBenjamin

    DRBenjamin Rookie

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    Aug 23, 2013

    As Dorothy Parker said . . .

    Upon being asked to define "horticulture," she said, "YOu can lead a whore to culture but you can't make her think." :lol:
     

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