Unit 2: Problem & Solution Speech (2 weeks)

Day One

  1. Introduce the Contemporary Problems & Solutions Speech Assignment.
  2. Give a very brief description of each of the contemporary issues that you will present for students to choose from.
  3. Ask for student input on which issue they wish to address. (I asked students to list their top three choices from among the ten issues that I presented, and tried to give each student one of those choices.)

Note: As in Unit 1, I do not allow students to generate their own list of issues for this project. I want to be able to provide materials for students at this point in the year, because their research skills are still developing. Time considerations mean that I would not be able to provide the materials fast enough if I asked students to generate their own topics. I do make sure to choose issues that I feel will be interesting to my students.

Also, please note that the steps presented in the assignment do not include the extensive modeling and scaffolding that I provide for my students between each step, as necessary. For example, I learned one year that my students were having particular trouble articulating solutions to societal problems when they completed the Unit 1 Mini-Poster. So, before I assigned this speech, I showed my classes examples of student-generated solutions to the problems they learned about in Unit 1, and together we evaluated them. In addition, I modeled a good speech and a bad speech for my students and asked them to grade me using the assignment rubric – a step that helped them understand what I was looking for (and provided some humor, in the case of the “bad” speech).

Finally, it is important to note that like everything we ask our students to do, this assignment is complex and is intended to develop more than one skill. In this case, I am interested in developing my students’ understanding of social problems and solutions; however, I am also very interested in developing their public speaking skills. Each teacher must choose for herself which skill to emphasize; the emphasis may vary depending on the group, the timing, and even the individual student.

Day Two

1. Assign students their issues, based on their input.
2. Distribute packets of 1-3 articles to students (these are “starter packets” that will allow students to gain background understanding before they conduct their own research).

Day Three – until the assignment is due (two weeks from Day One)

1. Instruct students to conduct outside research (and provide whatever support is necessary for that).
2. Help students practice and refine their public speaking skills and prepare to ask academic questions of their peers, possibly through in-class practice, mini-lessons, and video examples.

Assignment Due Day

1. Instruct students to present their speeches to the class.
2. Instruct students in the audience to ask academic questions of their peers after their presentations.

Unit 2 Student Work

Note that this student work is not necessarily intended to be exemplary; it demonstrates a range of student understanding and skill.

Speech Student 1

Speech Student 2