Friday, May 18, 2012

Improvisation and Public Speaking

They weren't kidding when they said that to be a good teacher you need to be able to think on your feet. Yesterday my EAL method lecturer (C) came up to me and asked me to spread the word that she wasn't going to be able to supervise our community outreach project that afternoon. Every week we meet with some top maths and science Grade 10s to 12s to help improve their English. They also get additional maths and science tutoring to give them that extra edge. C asked us to have this week's focus be on public speaking.

And then no one else showed up for our lecture, which meant I wasn't going to see them before the outreach program that afternoon, and I was unable to contact them. Instead of running around looking for them, I decided to Consult the Holy Oracle: I googled for some fun public speaking improv activities, and C and I quickly put together a bag of random objects that we picked up around her office for some of the activities I had planned.

Praise the Oracle!

Here are a few of the ones that worked especially well with our group:

Public Speaking Activities 

Volte Face

(From Personal Development is
"In Volte Face, you’re given a topic first. You DON’T get any time to think about it at all! You have to speak FOR the topic for 30 seconds. AGAINST the topic for 30 seconds. Then FOR the topic for 30 more seconds. And then AGAINST the topic for the next 30 seconds! A beep or buzzer-sound tells you your 30 seconds are up!

Apart from giving public speaking practice (because everything has to be so spontaneous!), this will really fill any place with laughter because the guy who speaks keeps contradicting himself again and again!"
Some example topics:

Animal cloning should be illegal

Monday morning sucks.
I love mosquitoes.
Students should not have to wear uniforms.
School should start two hours later than it already does.
Girls have it better than boys.
Beauty is only skin deep.
Computers should replace teachers.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Alcohol should be illegal.
Females are better students than males.
Winter is the best season of the year.
Exes should remain friends.
Homework should be banned.
The Earth is flat.
Global warming is not real.
Science is a threat to humanity.
The moon should be colonized.

These topics can be used for other activities as well, or as assigned speech topics.

Pass the Tennis Ball

This free word game encourages split second thinking! It sounds easy but actually requires real concentration to play it well.
Sit your group in a circle. Have one person in the middle with their eyes closed.
Pass a tennis ball clockwise from player to player.
When the middle person calls 'Stop',and a letter ( A, B, C, ...) the person holding the tennis ball has to name 6 words starting with that letter.
Meanwhile the ball keeps being passed round the circle.
The goal for the person naming the words to have all 6 done before the ball comes back to them. If they haven't,they change places with the middle player. If they have the middle person closes their eyes once more, the ball starts being passed and when they're ready they call 'Stop' and another letter name.
Don't allow place names, first names or some of the tougher letters.(X for example!)
As your players get better increase the number of words required.
The reason for having the middle player's eyes closed as the ball is going round is so they won't know who has got it when they call.

Scientific Discovery

Before the lesson, collect a whole lot of random, everyday objects. Some of the objects we found included plastic forks, used toilet paper inner tubes, playdough, a pinecone, a printer ink cartridge and an empty tube of lip balm.

Put the objects in a bag. Divide the class into groups, or for an added challenge they can do this individually, depending on the ratio of students to objects. Each group gets to choose one item (without peeking) from the bag. They then have to come up with creative uses for it. When they have had some time to brainstorm, each group must stand and present the object to the class as if they are giving the sales pitch for this latest and greatest invention, the tool or item that will save (or destroy) all of mankind.

For example, (this was actually said by one group!): "You may see this as a roll of sticky-tape. However, for all the single ladies out there, this item has a plethora of amazing uses. Firstly, it can be worn as jewellery guaranteed to attract any man. Secondly, you might use it to put up your hair. You can also use it to decorate your clothes. Now, our scientists have devised the perfect perfume for this sticky-tape to emit; it makes the men go crazy!...But the perfume is lethal to mice, so if you rest it on the floor like so, you can get rid of that little rodent problem you've been having..." 

Will you pay me overtime for this, Mommy?

There are tons of other ideas out there in the ether; a bit of Googling should do the trick. The lesson went over really well, and now we have a bag of "Mystical, Magical Objects" that can be reused as a resource in the future.

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