ONE OF THE BEST THINGS about our student TED Talks is that the room is filled with the sound of my student’s voices. Today was another round of talks, and the first day of my reading classes’ talks. My reading class has worked on this project longer than anyone, and so their talks have graphics, and are more detailed than my technology students’ talks. I was sitting beside one of my third graders today; they were responsible for running the camera (we film the talks so students can watch themselves later), and just listening to everything. At that specific moment my students were giving feedback to the student who had just completed their talk. We have two ways to give feedback: Students can say “I like . . .” and provide a specific compliment regarding the speech, or they can say “I wonder. . .” which provides a way for them to ask a question. The student beside me was struggling to share his thoughts. It sounded something like this, “I like how . . . I mean I like the way . . . the way. . . during your talking . . .” It was a moment that seemed to stretch for awhile, and I thought, “He just needs more time.” I didn’t just mean time to finish his sentence, but time to talk. He need practice expressing his ideas out loud.
SPOILER: Kids are really young. I remember once, a coworker from another school was expressing his frustration over his students. He kept complaining about their immaturity and how they acted - giggling and spending all their time thinking about the dumbest things - sports, girls, boys, and movies. It was at this point in the conversation that I found myself having to say, “Well, they are kids, you know?” He shook his head and stormed off, probably now frustrated with me. But I think sometimes people forget that students are - you know, KIDS. This was especially true during the years I taught high school, but when you hit thirty you begin to understand that fourteen is really, really young.
I enjoyed sitting back and watching them interact with one another. One student would run the camera, basically calling the whole class. They would tell everyone else to quiet down, and then count backwards - 3, 2, 1 and then point a finger at the speaker. The best part was that no one kid got to run the camera. After the speaker finished, they would pick their replacement and take over filming; everyone got an opportunity to be in charge.
The feedback they gave each other was specific, too. It wasn’t, “I like your speech. It was good.” Instead students said things like, “I like that you started with a story, but then had research to make your point,” and “I wonder why you didn’t say why you love basketball so much.” We had practiced giving feedback and had discussed what makes feedback powerful and effective and it was good to see it in action.
Here’s my TED Talk highlights:
A struggling reader who created a thoughtful and beautiful talk about the positive impact of drawing, quoting multiple articles to support her ideas. These quotes included words far beyond the reach of her vocabulary, but she not only pronounced them correctly and easily (thanks to all that practice) but she understood them. Her desire to share her thoughts about art pushed her to reach well beyond her own reading level.
A very shy student volunteering to speak, and speaking with a bold, clear voice. After she took her turn, two other shy girls also volunteered and during feedback time, she told them each. “I like your bravery. You got up there and spoke.”
A good friend gave me a new book as birthday present. It is a picture book entitled “Say Something” and it is an amazing book about finding and using your voice. I love every page and every word of it, and read it to my students before they began their talk. If that wasn’t good enough, the book is dedicated to Emma Gonzalez. SWOON
Two boys who wrote their talk together, and took turns explaining how they became best friends before going on to explain the value of friendship. They tag-teamed the speaking and the story. Kid 1: When I started Kindergarten, I was nervous, but then I looked up . and saw this kid. Kid 2: I was sitting at my desk on that first day, and I saw another boy across the room and I thought, “I wonder if we can be friends?” It was adorable.
All in all, it was a pretty satisfying day. I enjoyed it and look forward to hearing tomorrow’s round of talks. Best of all, I was able to squeeze a special day of talks next week — select students will give their talks again for an audience of important people.
Now, I am going to sink back into the couch and thinking about my boxes of yearbooks who have made their way from Wisconsin to Indiana so far. I sure hope we get to meet each other soon.
Keep moving forward,