Old School Tool: Speaking

There is a cultural debate centered on students’ ability to communicate face-to-face.  With the influence of technology in our everyday life, it does seem to affect our communication skills. This post will share ideas that foster oral communication skills.  From giving presentations to performing group skits, I hope to foster some lively lessons for your classroom. So, let’s look at how to get students talking.

2 Minute Drill

The basics of this activity is for a student to give a two minute speech, usually with a question-and-answer session afterwards. I will use my writing course as an example to show how the activity works.  I use the two minute drill during the persuasive essay unit.  The activity takes a full class period. The students are given 15 minutes to draft a two minute speech. I have guidelines for the speech.  In this example the speech must have a logical or emotional appeal with the proper references. I also emphasize tone and word choice for this activity. The students can practice during the work time. The goal is for the speech to be two minutes, the time limit is part of the grade. All students write a speech but students are randomly chosen to present their speech. I use the Q & A section to help the students face questions or ideas they might not have thought of for their essay.  Most years I have enough time for three students to speak, but all speeches are handed in.

This activity can used for almost any subject.  The two minute drill gets them to focus on one or two ideas and articulate their understanding.


One of my favorite lessons is the Animal Paper Plate play. The instructions for this activity can be found on the “Lesson Plan” page. Yes, creativity is a part of this lesson. Students have to make their paper plate animal, but they also have to write a script to match guidelines for the lesson. Students love this lesson. Below are some pictures from past skits.

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Another skit idea I use is a classroom version of Who’s Line Is It Anyway? I have the rules of different games and adjust them to align with the content of the class.  For example I have a Lord of the Flies version of Who’s Line. At the beginning of the year I ask for volunteers, but by the end of the year all students are expected to participate. This is a fun, but challenging way for students to interact with each other. It is rough at the beginning, but you will be amazed at their skills by the end of the year.

Choose a Side

Again, this is an activity that can be formulated to fit your subject matter.  The idea is simple, after working with an idea on paper or just on the fly, students have to move to a part of the room according to their answer to a question. Once they have found their place I ask for reasons why.  For example, I’ll ask students to move to the front of the room if they think Ralph is right or to the back of the room if they think Jack is right (characters in the book Lord of the Flies). I will ask for reasons, or will allow one minute arguments to happen for each group.  This works well if you have a number of questions that get students moving.  Students start to question each other as they move.

Share It!

OK, this is simple.  When students complete an assignment for class I have them share it with someone else before they hand it in. This works great for some of my creative assignments, but I have used it for poetry or even worksheets. At the beginning of the lesson I inform the students that it is a “Share It!” assignment. For the student it means that once they have completed the assignment they find a partner to show or discuss their project with. The students then ask the other person to initial their work.

There are so many ways to get students to talk in class.  At times we can get stuck in screen work and we need to ask them to interact face-to-face. I bet you will be surprised at what the students can tell you.

Share your ideas on ways you get students to converse in class in the comment section.


About jboelhower

I am a husband and a father. I have been in the field of education for over 20 years.
This entry was posted in Lesson Plan and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Old School Tool: Speaking

  1. faithsky1998 says:

    What if some students have anxiety while presenting to a full classroom?


    • jboelhower says:

      There are years that I have had students not want to share, but by the end of the year students feel comfortable in the classroom to share. The paper plate skit helps, having the “mask” eases students fears.

      Liked by 1 person

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