Some eighth-grade classes assign students to deliver an oral presentation to the class. This kind of project tests the students' public speaking skills in terms of using the appropriate tone of speaking, diction and body language. Students also will show their organization and preparation skills in terms of researching and presenting information in a clear and organized way that shows the speaker’s understanding of a topic. Topics can be student-generated or assigned by the teacher.
The purpose of a persuasive speech is basically to convince the audience to subscribe to one opinion over another. Topics should be appropriate to the eighth grade in both content and audience. In other words, a student should choose a topic that not only interests the speaker, but also will engage the other students. If the teacher opens the floor to a brief class discussion after the oral presentation, a student may want to choose a topic that will spark debate among the other students, such as a topic of controversy that everyone has an opinion on like the importance of recycling, violence on television or even teen sexuality. However, teachers may want to pre-approve topics, depending on the class’s maturity level.
Speeches don’t necessarily need to persuade an audience to believe one opinion versus another. Some students may opt for the informative speech, which allows students to expound about a topic they’re interested in without the need to provide a convincing argument. A student may choose to talk about topics such as types of animals, history of a specific place or the life of a historic figure. While there’s no persuading involved, a student would still need to seem authoritative and knowledgeable on the topic as well as organize and deliver information in a manner that the other students can understand and learn from. Afterward, a teacher can still open up the floor for discussion and follow-up questions.
Where informative speeches aim to teach an audience about something, demonstrative speeches seek to teach an audience how to do something. Students opting for demonstrative speeches exercise not only their understanding of a process but also their ability to explain this process in a clear, understandable manner, essentially showing their skills as educators. Students can opt for topics that students can easily replicate, possibly even in class, like how to play guitar, or something more informative such as complicated processes like how an automobile works. Class discussion can include asking clarifying questions or suggesting other variables or methods to the process.
In the oral presentation, students may have the option or the requirement to provide visual aids as they speak to help students better gain a grasp of the topic. Thus, students may want to consider choosing a topic that they can easily provide visual representations for. For example, in talking about how a car works, a student may want to provide a diagram of the engine to better explain the components and how they work. Additionally, students should narrow their topics not only to focus their efforts but also to cover enough ground during the presentation without glossing over anything. For example, instead of writing about Paris as a whole, a student may want to focus on the history of Paris or famous Paris landmarks.
- Educatoral.com: Oral Presentation Rubric
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