Remember: speaking is already a part of your teaching when students talk about the reading in class. Think of speaking as the first stage of sorting out thoughts and exploring the range of possibilities. Only by talking about issues can we form thoughts about them and then write those thoughts down.
What we all know...
Your job in EP-1 is to get students comfortable talking in front of others. It's easier to make mistakes speaking than writing so be prepared for lots of mistakes. What you're listening for is improvement over time as students become more confident and concise.
What we mustn't forget...
There are lots of ways to get students to talk in class: ask the class a question and wait for volunteers, call on individual students, break the class up into discussion groups. You can also give students responsibility for presenting the readings or ask them to present a question to the class and moderate a discussion.
You will find many different speaking styles among your students, some are fluent the first time, others take repeated attempts. Remind them that they're learning while they're listening.
Your goal is to get them to do the thinking on their feet, so be prepared to take the rough with the smooth, and be patient. You will also need to respond on your feet: what are they still in a fog about? Write a list of key words on the board and make sure they've written them down at the end of class.
SEMINAR EXERCISE: List of faculty questions about teaching speach
How do I draw out the silent types? Get them used to being called upon.
How do I get them to take notes on other students? They look to us for cues, so take notes yourself.
How do I get them to look at other students? Sit at the back.
How do I grade speaking? It's up to you. You could do what you do now when you grade the 10% for classroom participation. Or you can treat the speaking-based part of an assignment as if it were the written one and grade their writing. What's important is the feedback as well as the grade, your responses to assignments, orally in class, and also by email.
What's the most difficult part of this? Once you've let them go and ceded responsibility, and some of them have used it well, you have to reign in their enthusiasm, and make them see that they have to exercise their "voice" responsibily to persuade others.
FACULTY RESPONSES: Getting students talking: where to start?
- All this discussion would work better if everyone was seated around a table.
- Well the EP seminars are capped at 19!
- Very 1st class: break the ice by giving them a simple problem to solve.
- Give them questions in advance to guide the reading.
- Have them examine a short photocopied reading in class.
- I break them into groups and have them discuss the progress of ongoing projects.
- My students like to be involved in hands-on research.
- I get students talking with a weekly news review.
- Find the good writers and make sure they speak in class.
- Set up staged classroom debates.
- Teach them the basic tools of rhetoric - how to appeal to reason but also stir the passions.
- But at the same time, this is not mock trial!
- Give them permission to think out loud. That's where some of the best ideas come from!
FACULTY RESPONSES: What was the best idea, comment, technique from the workshop?
Thinking about class participation in terms of "thinking out loud" or vocalizing ideas. Speaking is learning too!
It's very helpful to have the reassurance of the abundant ways that we can encourage speaking in class: individual, partnered, group and teacher-led activities; also, all the ideas for speaking activities outside the classroom.
The idea of building into the class thought-time so students have time to take notes and sketch a commentary and this prepares them for quality participation.
The need to adjust expectations if the emphasis is on vocalizing ideas.
The importance of summarizing and recapping the class at the beginning and end.
I like the idea of the students presenting the reading assignments to one another.
Big idea: student leader posting notes and questions on Blackboard before the presentation.