Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Public Speaking Assessments Should Start at Which Grade?

A friend of mine shared the following photo on Facebook:

It's a picture of an assignment her child brought home from school.  Can you guess which grade her kid is in?  Would you believe me if I said it was Kindergarten?

Seeing this and then hearing her description of the heckling and such she witnessed the teacher doing to one of the kids during his "assessment" just made me sick to my stomach!

Kindergartners are still LEARNING public speaking and story mapping skills!  This is not the time to test them on it, especially if the assessment is going to include furious note taking, gruff tones, harsh criticism, and shouts of, "Louder!" from the teacher. 

If the point of the assignment was to give the kids practice in story mapping, then they should be writing it and/or drawing pictures on simple graphic organizers. 

If the point of the assignment was to teach public speaking skills, then you do show-and-tell, student of the week, have them memorize a short poem to recite, or have them prepare to present a simple couples sentences of "I like this story because..."  And then when they are done, you thank them profusely for presenting and compliment them on the things they did right.  If you must, you can also include in your sweetest, most kind-hearted and encouraging voice, "Next time you have a turn, remember to talk a little louder so the parent helper way in the back can hear you, too."

One of the things that disturbs me the most about this situation is that this nonsense is going on in one of the most desired schools in our district.  This school is part of the public school district but it doesn't automatically enroll children from a certain geographical area.  You have to open enroll into it and they require a certain amount of parent involvement hours a year.  I know a whole bunch of families that have opted to take their kids there.  They all have such wonderful things to say about it. 

If this craziness is going on in a "good" school in a middle class neighborhood, then I'm really scared for the future of our education system and our children.

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