Friday, March 27, was the final class for these students as they made their presentations before a large audience at Bethel Community Church in Sarasota.
The middle to high school students presented original speeches on interesting topics like the human eye, the history of Nintendo and a new product being introduced, the life stories of Walt Disney and Beethoven, “The Power of Words” and a little-known history of Hollywood. Others interpreted the biblical account of Jonah, poems by Jack Prelutsky and Ogden Nash and a chapter from a story by William Steig.
The elementary speakers, eight in all, gave original speeches on their favorite scripture verse or bible story.
These children, ages 6 to 18, were all so fantastic. Their confidence and enjoyment in their topics rang out with each speaker. They should all be pleased with their work.
My two boys have been a part of this class all year. They have grown a lot in their research and writing skills (in order to put together speeches) but mostly in their confidence to speak in front of others; not just talk to a bunch of friends in a group, but actually put together thoughts and present them to people who are giving them their attention for the purpose of finding out information. Most of us are afraid to speak in public; “will I be laughed at?, will I make a mistake?” etc. go through our heads for hours before we make our presentations. The Speakers of Sarasota students have learned to critique their classmates with positive and then negative comments. The negative comments, they’ve learned, are to come in the form of “what can you do better next time.” For instance, one student would give a short presentation on a pet peeve. When he is finished, the classmates will tell him what they liked: you sounded convincing, you talked loud enough for all to hear. Then they would tell him things he could improve on: try not to sway back and forth next time you speak, don’t rustle your paper you are reading from, or memorize the speech next time so you can have better eye contact. Wow! Not one classmate said the topic was stupid or they disagreed with the speaker. That’s such a positive way for people to learn how to confidently speak in public. The older students worked similarly but with more experience than the younger students, they were able to help out their classmates in a higher level. Both the elementary and middle to high school students learned to be encouraging to their peers.
The elementary students learned demonstration speeches in the form of presenting a science experiment to each other and their parents. Each child picked an experiment using dry ice, practiced their demonstration (pretending to use dry ice) and then, on presentation day, actually did the experiment with the dry ice. It was a lot of fun. Three of the students (one being my child) entered the Learning and Families Science Fair with each of their dry ice experiments, demonstrating them before a room of about 75 people; parents and peers.
The older group was eligible for competition through NCFCA which took place in Tampa this year. I don’t believe anyone competed but I do know some students went to observe.
Special kudos to their teachers: Mary Nicosia, Resa Stanley and Tricia Watts and the moms that helped Tricia coach the elementary students. A similar class will be offered to the homeschool community next year here in Sarasota. If you are interested please contact these teachers through the Learning and Families website: www.learningandfamilies.org.