The Unraveled Teacher

Getting Students Excited About Public Speaking from an AP Seminar Teacher

Welcome to summer, fellow teachers! I know this is supposed to be a time to relax and recharge (after all, no one is more deserving than teachers who just navigated the distance learning nightmare that was the 2020-2021 school year), but when July rolls around, I always find myself kicking my own projects into high gear. This summer, I’m working on my own TpT store so I’m spending a lot of time reviewing and polishing my old lessons so they can be of use to other teachers. My first year of teaching AP Seminar was a blast and I’m finally ready to share some of the things that made that course great for me and my students.

Ditch the Bell Ringers

Bell ringers are useful, but for teaching AP Seminar, I went a different route for our beginning-of-class routine. My biggest concern for my students was getting them comfortable speaking and presenting in front of their classmates. To have a great year (and get those students poised to get those 4s and 5s) the class needs to be pretty tight-knit. They are going to have to be able to rely heavily on each other when you can’t give them feedback on their IRRs (Individual Research Reports), TMPs (Team Multimedia Presentations), IWAs (Individual Written Arguments), or IMPs (Individual Multimedia Presentations). Getting them really comfortable with speaking in front of each has to be a priority for a successful year of AP Seminar.

This is where “Story Time” comes into play. I know that sounds like some sort of kindergarten activity, but trust me, your sophomores and juniors will get really into it! At the very beginning of class, use some method to randomly pick out a student. I had numbered popsicle sticks that correlated to my numbered desks, but you can put your students’ names on popsicle sticks as well. Just make sure it’s totally random because the idea is to keep them on their toes. If a student was called, he or she had to immediately get up at the front of the class and start telling a story. It doesn’t have to be a true story, and there are no topic restrictions (aside from obvious things like hate speech or the like). The first few days will be slow with students cringing when they realize they’re unlucky souls who must divulge some random speech in front the class, but after about a week, your students will grow to LOVE Story Time. They’ll be itching to be called up and will have something they can’t wait to share with class. Students will start sharing hilarious stories from their childhoods. They’ll start to get to know each other and the fear of speaking in front of each other will turn into a desire to speak in front of each other. The game is so incredibly simple, but it can completely change the dynamics of your AP Seminar classroom.

You will likely not need to continue Story Time through the entire year. There’s comes a point where students need to start focusing on more professional modes of presentation and that class time becomes all too valuable. I have other small projects and activities to get AP Seminar students to build and deliver excellent presentations, and I will be working on getting those up in my TpT store this summer (many of my AP Seminar assignments will be available for FREE in my store and others available at huge discounts in August) so please stop by my store and give me a follow for updates on those products!

And, don’t work too hard this summer! Who knows what curve balls the 2021-2022 school will throw our way!

Looking for ideas to get your AP Seminar kids thinking about what makes a good argument? Click the image to take gander!

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