During the month of January, I usually begin a public speaking unit with my students. Public speaking is an excellent method of integrating various curriculum expectations into a single unit. How does this happen?
- Media Literacy is addressed as students begin the unit by viewing three important speeches on YouTube and discussing the importance of the content and the effectiveness of the delivery
- Students practice their narrative/expository/persuasive writing skills by going through the writing stages for their speech
- Oral Communication is addressed when students deliver their respective speeches to the class in an effective and engaging manner, while also addressing listening for understanding (as an audience member).
My students usually are very apprehensive about writing and delivering a speech, but they all end up doing a fabulous job!
To start off this unit, we watch three speeches on YouTube:
Why is this a great choice? What Canadian doesn’t know who David Suzuki is?! Well, Severn is his daughter and in 1992 (at just 12 years old!) she addressed the United Nations at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Her powerful speech presented environmental concerns from a youth perspective at this U.N. Summit. Her message still resonates today.
This 10 minute clip from Oprah is an abridged version of the popular “The Last Lecture” by Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch that answers the question, “what wisdom would you try to impart on the world if you knew it was your last chance?” Randy Pausch had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer when he delivered this inspirational and emotional speech. he passed away on July 25, 2008.
Martin Luther King Jr.
Many students have heard the famous line “I have a dream…” by Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. during the American Civil Rights Movement, but they may not have heard his full speech. Although this clip is long (coming in at over 17 minutes), students remained captivated by both the delivery and message of this powerful speech.
The following chart helps students jot down the ideas that resonate from the three speeches they watched. Students are to focus on the importance of both the content and the delivery of each speech because it doesn’t matter if you’re a great speaker if your message is unclear, just as an important message is lost if the delivery is ineffective.