Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Simply Speaking

Laurie Ayers
Bay District Schools


This language arts lesson is for Day 4 of the unit [Native Americans]. Students will review criteria of effective speaking and practice using speaking skills in center activities.


The student reads informational texts for specific purposes (including but not limited to performing a task, learning a new task, sequentially carrying out the steps of a procedure, locating information to answer a question).

The student uses volume, phrasing, and intonation appropriate for different situations (for example, large or small group settings, sharing oral stories, dramatic activities).

The student speaks for different purposes (for example, informing, entertaining, expressing ideas).

The student uses eye contact and appropriate gestures to enhance oral presentations.


-Ten large, bright-colored construction paper spots (circles)
-Directions for Speaking Spots (in associated file)
-Chart paper, one piece
-Student Directions for Centers (in associated file)
-Room divider made from two sides of a large cardboard box
-Predetermined reading passage from a textbook or library book for Center 1 – Volume
(Note: The passage should be on a readability level to ensure all students will be able to successfully read it).
-Rubric for Speaking, Volume (in associated file)
-Ziploc bags, 7
-Sentences for Ziploc Bags (in associated file)
-One large paper grocery bag
-An assortment of everyday objects such as a pencil sharpener, a gardening glove, a potholder, a CD, a road map, toy car, etc
-Tape recorder
-Blank cassette tape
-Drawing paper and crayons for each student at Center 4
-Scrap paper for tally sheets for Center 4
-Pencils for Center 4
-Copies of the Rubric for Speaking, one for each center (see extensions)
-6 copies of each of the poems selected by the teacher from the List of Suggested Poems (in associated file)


1. Download and make a copy of Directions for Speaking Spots (in associated file).
2. Cut out the Directions for Speaking Spots game and glue each one onto the back of one of the construction paper spots.
3. Make 10 construction paper spots (large circles) for the Speaking Spots game. Glue a Direction for Speaking Spots on the back of each one.
4. Separate the Speaking Spots into two stacks, Effective Strategies and Ineffective Strategies.
5. Make a T-chart on chart paper like the Sample T Chart (in associated file).
6. Make a room divider out of two sides of a large cardboard box (tall enough for a student to sit behind and not be seen by others sitting in front of it).
7. Download and make copies of the Rubric for Speaking, Volume, each student will need as many copies as there are students in his group (in associated file).
8. Select a passage from a social studies textbook about Native Americans or a library book about Native Americans for students to read in Center 1 –Volume. The selection should be easy enough for all students to read. A suggested text might be [Rat is Dead and Ant is Sad], by Betty Baker, Harper and Row Publishers, 1981, ISBN 0-06-020346-3. Other I Can Read books available to the teacher could be used instead.
9. Download and make 5 copies of the Rubric for Speaking, one per center (see extensions)
10. Download and make a copy of Sentences (in associated file)
11. Cut Sentences for Ziploc Bags
12. Place Sentences for Ziploc Bags in the Ziploc bags.
13. For Center 5, select poems from the List of Suggested Poems (in associated file) and make copies. Several examples are provided. The teacher is encouraged to use discretion as to how many to use based on the time element and the needs of the students.
14. Gather materials and set up centers.


Note: In this lesson, effective speaking skills previously introduced on Day 2 will be reviewed and practiced. Students will later use these same skills to perform Summative Assessments 1 and 3.

1. Hold up several large, bright-colored construction paper spots (circles – They need to be a size that will fit on the T-chart). Tell students these are “Speaking Spots” and they will be used in today’s lesson to help them learn more about speaking.

2. Ask students to predict how they think the spots will be used.

3. After an adequate amount of discussion time, explain that students will use the spots to “Spot Check” their knowledge of effective and ineffective speaking skills.

4. Review criteria on the Rubric for Speaking (see extensions), which was previously posted in the classroom.

5. The teacher asks for pairs of volunteers to role-play effective and ineffective volume, tone, phrasing, eye contact, and gestures. The students do this by choosing one of the two spots for each criterion. Then they will role-play the effective or ineffective use of volume, tone, phrasing, eye contact, and gestures according to the directions on the back of each spot.

6. Students at their desks will try to decide if it is an effective (Do) or ineffective (Don’t) example and which criterion it involves (volume, phrasing, tone, eye contact, or gestures). For example, if a student chooses the spot that says, “Say the sentences below in a soft voice as if you are talking to just one person.” the students at their desks would reply that this is an ineffective example and it relates to the volume a speaker uses. Then a student volunteer places the spot in the appropriate row and column of the T-chart.

7. Students participate in the Speaking Spots game until all of the game cards have been used.

8. The teacher will use the Speaking Spots game to formatively assess student understanding of effective speaking criteria and provide formative feedback to guide instruction. Feedback should be both guiding (It seems you got mixed up about the difference between tone and phrasing. Tone is changing the sound of your voice when you say different kinds of sentences. Phrasing means grouping words you speak in a way that makes your speech easy to understand.) and positive (Great! You understand all of the criteria for effective speaking.)

9. Tell students they will practice what they have learned about effective speaking in some center activities today.

10. Divide students into small groups. (Note: Depending on your group, you may wish to give the center activity directions to the whole class rather than in groups.)

11. Give the directions for each center activity.

Note: Centers 1-4 can be done independently. Center 5 will need adult interaction. Student Directions for Centers (1-4) can be found in the associated file. It is recommended that directions for these centers be posted for student reference.
Center 1 – Volume
The purpose of this activity is for students to practice regulating the volume of their voices so that the students sitting in front of the divider will effectively hear them.
· At this center students will take turns sitting behind a cardboard divider and speaking to the others in their group who sit in front of the divider. Students who speak will read a predetermined passage from a textbook or library book. (Note: If deemed necessary, establish a means for each group to know what order the students will participate. For example, the students could go in ABC order according to their first names or according to their class numbers.)
· Students who are listening mark the Rubric for Speaking, Volume (in associated file) according to how well they could hear the speaker.
· When the student behind the divider is finished speaking, he joins the others in the group and they give him/her feedback as to how effective he was using the criteria for volume on the Rubric for Speaking.

Center 2 - Tone
The purpose of this center is for students to practice using different tones to speak the same sentence as a declaration, question, exclamation, and command.
· Students choose a Ziploc bag and each take a sentence from the bag.
· They read the sentence silently, paying special attention to the ending punctuation.
· One student at a time speaks the sentence he/she chose from the bag.
· The others try to guess what kind of sentence it is according to the speaker’s tone.

Center 3 - Phrasing
The purpose of this center is to provide practice using effective phrasing. The teacher should model the procedure after giving the directions.
· One student at a time will choose an object from a large paper grocery bag. The bag could contain an assortment of everyday objects such as a pencil sharpener, a gardening glove, a potholder, a CD, a road map, toy car, etc.
· The student takes a minute to think about the name of the object, how it is used, and where he/she would generally find this object.
· The speaker turns on the tape recorder and then speaks to the others in the group and tells them the name of the object, its use, and where it can be found. When finished, he/she stops the recorder.
· Each student takes a turn recording his speech about his object.
· After every student has had a turn, the tape is rewound and played.
· Students give each other feedback as to how effective their phrasing was according to the criteria on the Rubric for Speaking.

Center 4 - Eye Contact
The purpose of this center is to provide practice establishing eye contact while speaking.
· Students get a piece of drawing paper and draw a picture of their pet(s). If a student does not own a pet, suggest he/she draw a picture of a pet he/she would like to own.
· Upon completion, students take turns sharing their pictures with the small group, making sure they establish eye contact with others in the group.
· The other students who are not speaking keep a Tally Sheet (in associated file) of each time the speaker looks at them while speaking.
· When finished, the speaker is given feedback from other students about how frequently he established eye contact with each listener.

Center 5 – Gestures
The purpose of this center is to provide practice in using gestures while speaking.
A teacher, parent helper, or paraprofessional will need to lead students at this center.

Note: Before beginning this activity, the adult leader needs to explain that gestures can be hand movements or body movements used to enhance a presentation.
· Remind students that we speak for different purposes and the number and extent of gestures may vary according to our speaking purpose.
· For instance, when we are sharing a personal story about watching a spaceship blast off at Cape Kennedy we might be inclined to raise our hand over our head to indicate how the spaceship lifted off. However, if we are giving a report about weather we might not use as many gestures.
· Sometimes gestures are not easy to include when speaking to a group to inform. At times like this, the speaker can obtain the same effect by just changing his/her body position.
· Stress that it is more important that the gestures enhance the presentation, than to include gestures superficially. The teacher should also take this into account when assessing the final delivery of the oral presentations in Summative #1.

Center 5 - Gestures
Provide each student with a copy of a poem that lends itself to gestures. A List of Suggested Poems can be found in the associated File. The teacher/adult reads a sample poem orally. Students read along silently. Next, everyone reads the poem together orally. Allow time for the students to discuss the poem. The teacher/adult rereads the sample poem aloud modeling how to incorporate gestures. The teacher/adult guides the students in realizing gestures are used to enhance a speaker’s presentation.

· Ask students to pair up with a partner.
· Each student chooses one of the poems from the List of Suggested Poems (in associated file).
· Students read the poem they selected silently.
· Suggest that as they read, students try to be creative and think of some gestures they might use to present the poem.
· Students read the poem aloud to their partner two times. The first time they do not use gestures. The second time they do use gestures. Allow about 5-10 minutes for the students to do this.
· Finally, students reconvene into a group. If time permits, allow volunteers to present their poem(s) using gestures. Discuss how adding gestures to a speaking presentation can make the presentation more interesting and enjoyable.

12. Upon completion of all the center activities, the class will reconvene as a whole group to review vocabulary and the criteria for effective speaking: volume, tone, phrasing, eye contact, and gestures.

13. Remind students they need to be working on their “It’s In the Bag Projects” at home.


Use student responses in the Speaking Spots game to formatively assess student knowledge of the criteria for effective speaking. Look for evidence that the student can distinguish between effective and ineffective volume, phrasing, intonation, eye contact, and gestures.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL:
Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
2. The teacher will need to teach a mini lesson on the four types of sentences (declaration, question, exclamation, and command) if these concepts have not previously been taught.
3. If students have not had experience giving each other feedback, the teacher will need to teach a mini lesson on this before doing the center activities. Emphasis should be placed on using the criteria on the Rubric for Speaking as an example of feedback.
4. If the teacher anticipates trouble with the students operating the tape recorder individually, she could train one member of each group to perform this task prior to the lesson. In addition, a parent volunteer or paraprofessional might be helpful.
5. If this lesson is too long for your schedule, provide the center activities over a period of two days. However, remember all language arts lesson plans need to be completed before the students are summatively assessed on their speaking skills.
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