The chances are, you haven’t. From finding a new food to learning a new language, in the course of our daily lives we are constantly making new discoveries, acquiring knowledge, and gaining skills. It’s all prompted by one thing: experience. Unfortunately, in our schools, experiential learning often takes a back seat, particularly at higher grade levels.
Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy are successfully using an experiential learning model to teach their students how to become change agents in their community by experiencing democracy in action.
This model, which is repeated throughout the year, produces high school graduates who are college-ready, active, and engaged critical thinkers.
So how can you make your presentation lessons more high-impact to help your own students develop real-world research and public speaking skills?
- Create a real audience by bringing in external judges. Simulating a real world scenario with teachers and peers will not have the same impact as letting students experience the real deal. Knowing they will be judged by a genuine public audience will affect the way students approach the work, structure the presentations, and deliver them. It will also give them a real boost in self-esteem when they survive a nerve-wracking experience. If your students are old enough, you could even ask them to identify guest speakers themselves.
- Give students the ownership to set their own standards. The internet is full of public speakers, some more talented than others. Pick a couple of clips relevant to your topic and let the students sit through the talks. Ask the students to compile a list of "dos" and "don’ts" for public speaking based on what they have seen. Now work together with your students to write an assessment rubric together, using the clips you have watched to decide the grade criteria for both content and public speaking skills. Stick to this rubric in the final assessment.
- If you can, take your presentation out of the classroom. Foster aspiration and drive by holding presentations in buildings where students might want to work some day. Providing a taste of a genuine workplace experience could have a real impact on personal goals.
Trying one or all of these techniques could lead to better incomes for your students, and however the experience works out, you’ll learn from it, too.
Wenna Price is an independent education consultant with a background in teaching, teacher training, and curriculum design. She can be reached at enquiries(dot)wprice(at)gmail(dot)com or on Twitter (at)WennaPrice.