Friday, November 10, 2006

Guest Speaking

I have a guest speaker coming to class on Monday.

At least, I HOPE he's coming.

We emailed back and forth for a bit on Tuesday, but I haven't heard from him since then and he never let me know either what he plans to speak about or when he plans to arrive, so it's going to be an interesting class. I'm going to put together a lesson plan so I can have something to fall back on if he either doesn't show or isn't there when class starts.

I intended all along to have the students see real people speaking in public, but I couldn't convince them to go out into the world to find public speaking events. Even with the utter crush of political speaking going on in our area recently, a handout from me of the schedule for a lecture series at our local university, a bunch of culture-related opportunities at a nearby museum, and the suggestion to just go to a church or a synagogue, the students never made the effort to go out and listen to a speech. So, I'm bringing the speeches to them.

I'm looking forward to having this first guest in class. He's charming and personable. He's confident and approachable. He is super knowledgeable about his subject and delivers his information in a way that is accessible and intriguing at the same time. Every time I’ve heard him speak, I’ve come away both knowing more than I did before I got there and itching to come back to learn even more.

I’ve taken all your advice to heart, Dear Readers, and am putting together a worksheet for the students to have in front of them while they listen to the speech. (I’m also trying very hard to spill all my wordiness here and not in emails to the students.) I want them to listen for content, to be sure, but I’m more interested in how well they can pick out the techniques that the speaker uses. I want to see if they can pick out rhetorical structures and strategies - how does the speaker use language to get his or her point across and how does word choice affect what the audience thinks or feels about what’s being said? I want them to get to the point of the speech - not only the main thesis of the talk, but also the intention of it. Was the purpose of the speech informative or persuasive? Commemorative or storytelling? What was the speaker trying to say?

I’ve got another speaker lined up for December. This woman is a friend of my in-laws’, which is interesting because this woman is a rabid democrat where my in-laws, well, aren’t. Anyway, this lady is effusive and glorious and loud and funny. She reminds me of a cross between Maya Angelou and Jo Anne Worley. She’s agreed to come to the class to talk - I’m sure she’ll speak about women’s issues or the political process or her years as a state senator. I don’t really care, though - I just want my students to be in her presence for a while. She just radiates outward, and I’m hoping that some of them - particularly my more shy girls - will be inspired.

I’ve got to sit down and figure out what I still have to teach the kids before the semester ends. If I have time, I might try to find one other person to come and speak to the class before we tie it all up in the middle of December.

Any volunteers?


Anonymous Derek said...

I think the worksheet will be good. Hopefully, they will get it. As a college student currently, I would agree that most students either don't care about the simple required classes, or they only care enough to get that little grade. I know you feel that 60% is not good enough. I'm curious, however. What do you consider good enough? All A's? something else?

I love that you leave good comments for me. Keep it up, and keep posting good stuff for me to enjoy and learn from

November 10, 2006 8:30 PM  
Blogger Cassie said...

I agree with Derek. YAY for worksheets!!! Seriously, they're the best tool for the ADD student in all of us.

"I'm looking forward to having this first guest in class. He's charming and personable. He's confident and approachable. He is super knowledgeable about his subject and delivers his information in a way that is accessible and intriguing at the same time."

Yeah, but is he cute?!? Kidding. I'm just jealous that I don't have you as a prof. Seriously! I **LOVE** profs that are passionate about their subject. It makes learning so much more exciting. Students are like big puppies, "Did we get it right? Did we get it right?" ::tail wagging:: Most students like to impress.

As for your students not taking the initiative. I'm taking a stab in the dark. When I was in Community College doing some Core Requirements, I didn't know ANYONE in ANY of my classes. I showed up, went to class, did my work then went home. That's it.

I would never have asked someone to go with me to hear speeches and I SURE as heck wouldn't have gone alone. I have a feeling they were just intimidated. Then again, I could be giving them more credit than is due. ::shrug::

November 10, 2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Kizz said...

I can't volunteer for this semester but assuming there's a spring semester please put me on the schedule.

And tell me what you want me to talk about.

Did you make going to outside speeches (and filling out the worksheet about those speeches) a component of their grade? I suspect that might urge them to seek it out on some level. Certainly not foolproof but a good chance they'd try a little harder.

I also think the worksheet is a great idea.

November 11, 2006 10:30 AM  

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