Listen Up! Speak Up!

Unit Plan

Jan Foote
Adapted by Mark Rounds
3-4 weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
1.0Listening and Speaking Strategies 9/10
Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
1.3 Choose logical patterns of organization to inform and to persuade, by soliciting agreement or action, or to unite audiences behind a common belief or cause.
1.4 Choose appropriate techniques for developing the introduction and conclusion.
1.6 Present and advance a clear thesis statement and choose appropriate types of proof (e.g., statistics, testimony, specific instances) that meet standard tests for evidence, including credibility, validity, and relevance.
1.7 Use props, visual aids, graphs, and electronic media to enhance the appeal and accuracy of presentations.
1.8 Produce concise notes for extemporaneous delivery.
1.9 Analyze the occasion and the interests of the audience and choose effective verbal and nonverbal techniques (e.g., voice, gestures, eye contact) for presentations.
Analysis and Evaluation of Oral and Media Communications
1.10 Analyze historically significant speeches (e.g., Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream") to find the rhetorical devices and features that make them memorable.
1.11 Assess how language and delivery affect the mood and tone of the oral communication and make an impact on the audience.
1.12 Evaluate the clarity, quality, effectiveness, and general coherence of a speaker's important points, arguments, evidence, organization of ideas, delivery, diction, and syntax.
2.3 Apply appropriate interviewing techniques:
  1. Prepare and ask relevant questions.
  2. Make notes of responses.
  3. Use language that conveys maturity, sensitivity, and respect.
  4. Respond correctly and effectively to questions.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of the subject or organization.
  6. Compile and report responses.
  7. Evaluate the effectiveness of the interview.
Supporting Standards

Teacher Background Reading


Smiley Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

  1. Introduce the idea of speaking in a formal and informal context. Students are given the Rate Yourself As A Speaker Sheet and are asked to fill it in. Discuss the idea of informal and formal speaking and explain that in this unit we are going to speak both informally in groups and formally in a prepared speech to the class.

    Teacher explains that the first half of the unit is to practice informal speaking in groups but that we are going to gain in confidence and skills so that we can present a formal speech to the class.

  2. Students are paired by the teacher. They are given the Interview Sheet. If appropriate, vocabulary is discussed.

  3. Students write the answers to the questions on the sheets and then share the information by speaking to their partner. One member of the pair is the listener the other the speaker, then they swap over.

    They then use the other side of the Interview Sheet to record their partner's answers. They ask their partner questions if they can't remember.

    The pairs then join into groups of four. Each person uses the Interview Sheet about their partner to introduce their partner to the other three people. They stand when they do this.

    Then groups of four join another group of four to make groups of eight. Students practice introducing their original partner to the larger group, standing and using their Guideline Interview Sheet.

  4. Teacher gives students the rubric so that they know what interviewing and reporting skills are being assessed.

  5. The teacher then presents an example of a prepared speech, with a written copy of a prepared text. Watch a video of the speech if possible.

  6. Teacher presents/revises the SEXY structure for writing expository writing.

    S Statement
    E Example
    X eXplanation
    Y Your response

  7. In their original pairs, the students see if they can find this structure in the text of the prepared speech, or from a speech the teacher prepares and models. Teacher models the breakdown on an overhead transparency, with input from student discussion. Students note the breakdown on their copy and put into their books/folders. (For other speeches - both spoken and written - visit Famous Speech Archive.

  8. Students choose one question from the Guideline Interview Sheet that they are going to expand into a prepared speech. They brainstorm and mind-map ideas that they can talk about. Then they share these ideas with their partner and see if they can add more. Inspiration software is a tremendous tool for mind mapping.

  9. Students write the draft of their speech, using the SEXY structure for each paragraph.

  10. Teacher returns to original text of prepared speech. Students listen to it again and read it again, this time looking for distinctive features of a speech. Discuss with partners, then teacher-led discussion about features of oral language eg. repetition, rhetorical questions, strong opening statement, strong conclusions, simile, metaphor, use of humor. Teachers may wish to provide another contrasting example.

    List these with examples from original text on overhead transparency.

  11. Students return to draft of speech. They now write a 2nd draft, keeping the SEXY structure but adding 2 features of oral language from the list. They share this with their partner and the partner offers the suggestion of one more feature. This is added to the speech.

  12. Students write a 3rd draft of their speech and show it to their partner. If both are agreed that the speech has a SEXY structure and that it has at least 3 features of oral language, student writes their speech on to cue cards.

  13. Teacher discusses delivery. If possible show a video - for example, of school speech competitions. A useful technique is to show the video and then turn the television around and listen to the speech. Ask the students what they saw when they looked at the speech. Playing a clip from City Hall (rated M for mature audiences) works well here.

    Discuss and take note of

    • Stance,
    • Voice, change of inflexion
    • Tone, pace
    • Gestures and body language
    • Props

  14. Variation: Teacher delivers a speech in a monotone deliberately avoiding using any delivery features which might animate it. The class are asked to rate the teacher using this Speech Delivery Checklist.

  15. Students then practice delivering their speeches to their partner and then to their group of four. They use their Speech Delivery Checklist to assess their own performances and to offer constructive feedback to each other. Finally students deliver speeches to the whole class, and assess each other using the Speech Delivery Checklist. From the Speech Delivery Checklist they then look back to their assessment rubric. The teacher does too and there is a quick discussion of the assessment at the end of each speech. It can be useful if the students are videotaped, so that they can be used for future exemplars and/or to allow for student self assessment. They can also use it as part of the peer assessment process.


Self, Peer and Teacher.




It became apparent that the pupils wanted to find more information both for their speeches and about Martin Luther King. However, their information skills were pretty limited and more work needs to be done in this area. Because there is so much information on Martin Luther King on the web, this lends itself to a comparative trash or treasure exercise where different Web sites are compared for their usefulness. See the Thinking Critically about Research Sources unit from English Online New Zealand as a useful guide for this.