By Pete Johnson- Middle School Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher
How might the average person answer the question, “What is everyone afraid of?” The answer might very well be “public speaking.” As you may know, public speaking has been found in many surveys to be what most people fear the most. In fact, surveys have shown that a majority of people fear public speaking more than death! However, this doesn’t have to be the case. If people are exposed to public speaking starting from a young age, they learn the essential skills before they have a change to learn to be afraid. Consequently, they are more likely to develop into confident adults. The fact that the fear of public speaking is so prevalent could indicate that public speaking is undertaught in our schools.
In social studies, students are giving short presentations back to the class every 2-3 weeks. Prior to presenting, students become experts on different aspects of the curriculum. Students then create a visual aid that will help them teach their classmates. Visual aids may include posters, an interactive timeline, a Google Slides presentation, or a video. They present what they have learned back to the class. Not only are they learning to have confidence in themselves, they are also learning presentation skills like articulation, intonation, and body language. In the photo below, Kenny and Evan give a Google Slides presentation about Brazil.
Public speaking opportunities can also occur in more informal circumstances, such as class discussions and show and tell. In the photo below, Jack talks to us about juggling and demonstrates his skills.
In accordance with tradition, 8th-grade students will be delivering speeches again in front of the graduation audience, which is the ultimate demonstration of a student’s public speaking prowess. When students graduate from PNA, our goal is to send children up to the graduation stage with a different perspective on the question in the title of this article. When they step on that stage to give their speech, we want them to think, “What is everyone afraid of? This is easy!”