I don’t know why, but I am a big fan of the oral presentation. When I was a kid, I hated them, at first. Standing in front of all my friends to talk about something? Ugh. No, thanks! Or at least that’s what I thought. Despite clear memories of being underprepared and nervous with nearly every oral presentation assignment, they were, in fact, right up my alley.
In fifth grade, my friend Matt B. and I did a videotaped skit as Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon. Matt did a great McMahon laugh. In seventh grade, my friend Tom M. and I were in a competition to see who could do the longest presentation on fishing. Tom won, needing two entire periods to make sure everyone in our class knew how to approach freshwater fishing. Later, in college, and despite it being a 7:20 AM class on a Tuesday in the fall (yes, after staying up late in the dorms to watch Monday Night Football), one of my all-time favorite college courses was an oral presentation skills class. It was fantastic fun, met a Communications requirement, and allowed such latitude and creativity that it was a wonder more undergrads didn’t take it.
On the other side of things, teaching oral presentation skills to fourth, fifth, and sixth graders offers unique challenges. Even with the incorporation of PowerPoint or Keynote, nerves and uncertainty can make this a difficult assignment for almost any student. And coming up with new and interesting twists on subject matter can be tricky. So what are your tips and suggestions for making oral presentations a success in your classroom? Got a rubric you’d like to share? Do so in the comments!