Resources & Homework

Your homework will be added to this page as I assign each task to you, under the heading “HOMEWORK“. The Assigned date shows when I gave the homework, and the Due date shows when the homework is supposed to be ready for presentation.

Some class handouts will also be archived here, under the heading “RESOURCES“. All text files are in PDF format, and you can open it with either the Adobe Acrobat Reader, or with the alternative PDF reader Foxit (download it here).


Here is the Note Card Example handout that I distributed on 13 March 2006.

Here is the Emphasis Exercise handout from 20 March 2006, and here are some links to the audio samples we listened to in class (hopefully): a horrible German man, a certain American president, the nutty Ezra Pound, and the wonderful William Carlos Williams. Remember that the point of these listenings is not the politics of these people — most of which are pretty scary, to be honest — or listening comprehension — they’re pretty difficult to understand, in general — but the way in which these speakers use stress, pausing, and stretching to emphasize words in their oration.

Here is the marking sheet I handed out for our first graded speech, the gestural speech in which you introduced one or more family members.

Here is the ladle rat rotten hut mp3, and a copy of the original English text and the messed-up version by H.L. Chace, hosted at Sentence Sense. Listen again if you like.

I’ve created a recorded speeches archive page for this course, at which you can download recorded speeches for your review and listening pleasure.

Here’s the handout I’ve prepared for our class on working with Visuals (15 May 2006). It’s really just a repackaging of this post at Kathy Sierra’s excellent Creating Passionate Users blog, and she recommends another great article at the Wired archive, here. Guys, I’m not an expert in this area — I’ve never made a presentation using slides before, and you’re going to see my first ever presentations with slides — so I’m deferring to Kathy’s experience and know-how. (Links to the two example presentation slideshows will be added after I’ve had a chance to present them in class. I don’t want to spoil the surprise!)

HOMEWORK1. First Speech. Assigned 6th March 2006. Due 8th March 2006.Briefly introduce yourself. You will:

  • speak for roughly 5 minutes (more or less is okay), and
  • tell the group some interesting things about yourself

2. Preparations.

Assigned 8th March 2006. Due 13th March 2006.

Please think about which family members you would like to describe to the class in your upcoming Descriptive speech, which we’ll talk about more next week.

3. Description Speech: Assigned March 15th, 2006. Due March 22nd.

Prepare a notecard outlining a speech describing one or more members of your family. (You will submit the notecard to me after giving your speech.) Choose appropriate gestures of different types (Gestures of Sequence/Structure, Emphasis, Illustration, and Comparison) to help amplify your message. I will give you an example speech on Monday, March 20th.

4. Fairy Tales. Assigned 22 March 2006. Due 27 March 2006.

All students should find a fairy tale in English, either in a childrens’ book or else from the Internet, and bring it to class on Monday for an exercise we’ll do in-class.

5. Tell Us A Story… Assigned 27 March. Due 3 April 2006.

Students will tell an interesting (funny, scary, exciting, or otherwise interesting) story from their experiences. The length of the story should be approximately four minutes. This presentation will be graded. The use of different forms of inflection (stretching, stressing, and pausing) for emphasis of important words (usually numbers, verbs, adjectives/comparatives/superlatives, and negations) will be given special consideration in the formulation of your grade. However, skills covered already in the course will also factor into your grade, including the following:

  • posture & eye contact with the audience
  • voice projection (speaking loudly enough and clearly enough to be heard by the audience)
  • use of gestures in conveying important points in the story

Students are encouraged to remember that I suggested practicing with a mirror. Facial expressions sometimes also help in making clear the kind of emphasis intended for a word. Finally, bear in mind that I have instructed you to over-emphasize your use of emphasis for this presentation. Too much is good, at least for this exercise.

6. Plan Your Attack: Assigned 29 March 2006. Due 5 April 2006.

On March 29th, students worked in groups preparing a list of points that could be used in a persuasive speech from one of the following points of view: For Public Smoking; Against Public Smoking; For Public Kissing; or Against Public Kissing. For the 5th of April, students should prepare a list of points and an outline for a persuasive speech given in support of the opposite stance to that which they explored with classmates. For example, if you worked with classmates on the stance For Public Smoking, then you should prepare an outline for a speech Against Public Smoking.

In addition, due to time constraints, about half the class did not get a chance to tell a story to the class; for this reason, classtime on 5 April will also be devoted to listening to their stories, and perhaps to listening to recorded examples of speeches made by students.

Self-Evaluation Homework. Assigned 5 April 2006. Due 12 April 2006.

Students will listen to their own stories from the Speeches Archive on this site, and submit a brief self-evaluation written in a style similar to the feedback sheets I distributed after your last evaluated speech. Students consider their posture and eye contact, their use of gestures, but especially the way they used their voices to emphasize key words or ideas in their story. Also worth considering is audience reaction which can be heard on each recording. It is important that students also submit a letter grade as part of their self-evaluation. My feedback will be given to each student only after students’ self-evaluation has been submitted.

Persuasive Speech — Group Presentation: Assigned 5 April 2006. Due 12 April 2006.

Students have worked on developing arguments “for” or “against” one of two topics, “Public Smoking” and “Public Kissing”. Each group will make a presentation on April 12th, arguing in favor of the original position that it was asked to explore. Arguments should be structured as discussed in class: first, moving from weakest or least central points to the most important and strongest points; second, arguments should be clearly linked to what the group anticipates to be the main arguments of those who will disagree with their position. Since it is a group presentation, each student in the group should get an opportunity to speak at some point. Grading will take into account all previously studied “skills” as well as the structure and power of the argument presented.


Students will prepare a persuasive speech on some “controversial” subject — a subject on which disagreement is possible among classmates. Grading will be judged on the following criteria:

  • basics (posture, projection of voice, eye contact and demeanour)
  • effective use of gestures to illustrate, describe, compare, or emphasize key points or details
  • effective use of voice emphasis (stretching, pausing, and stressing) to further emphasize their argument
  • effective structure of argumentation (a) proceeding from weakest to strongest point, and (b) effectively anticipating and confronting opposing views.
  • your outline will also be marked but only as a minimal part of your grade, and in essence a “preparation” component

You may consult the grading sheet I will be using for a more specific breakdown as to the value of each skill or technique in the final grade.

While students will be allowed to bring a notecard to the podium “just in case”, it is strongly advised that students practice their presentations enough so that they need only use a notecard in case of emergency. Afterwards, a rough outline of the speech and any notecard(s) used should be submitted to me; the outline must be typed and follow standard outlining format. (See this handout from one of my writing classes for an example if you’re not familiar with the standard format for outlines.)

Students will be allowed 5-6 minutes for their individual presentations, so it’s essential that your arguments be succinct, to-the-point, and well-rehearsed. Good luck!

SCHEDULE TILL THE END OF SEMESTER (as determined in class 10 May 2006)
15th-17th May: Working with Visuals . .

22nd-24th May: Extended (“Long”) Speeches (10 min each, 5 people Tuesday and 10 people on Thursday)

29th May: Useful Rhetorical Expressions (?)

To Be Announced (Make-Up Class): Ghost Story Night

5th -7th June: Final Major Presentation (7-10 min, 5 people Tuesday, 10 people Thursday)

12-14th June: Interviewing Techniques & Exercise

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