Week eleven. Mid-term exams or presentation based assessments are now over. The academy has settled back into the second half of the semester.
In the Space & Exploration class, the students have been taught about the Hot Big Bang, the universe’s continued expansion, black holes and their significance, theories about the universe’s origins and the probabilities of its end.
Recently there was a presentation day in this class. Students were given a choice of planets and exoplanets from which to base their presentations on. They were instructed to use their own words and dig up some interesting or little-known facts and to present their research in an entertaining fashion. They were encouraged to speak volubly and articulately in front of their classmates, to make eye contact with the audience and not sit behind the desk and read from their research: rather know their material inside out and therefore be able to engage with the audience.
All of the students did a thoroughly good job and can be proud of their work. One of the mission goals here at CIA is to encourage, develop, and nurture public speaking. That process starts in the classroom. Most people are afraid to speak publicly. Indeed, many public speakers will attest to the fact that even after years of public speaking, they still get “butterflies in their stomachs” before taking the stage.
We try to make it a game, not an activity that the students are going to get marked on and be frightened of failing at. Trying to ease the students into the recognition that public speaking can be a fun activity is key to making them shed their inhibitions and fears.
One teacher gave the following task: all the students had to choose a famous person, living or dead, and then choose a pertinent quotation made by that speaker. The student then had to research that speaker’s life and decide how the specific quotation was still relevant today and how and why the quotation held meaning for their own lives. Making sure their speech is clear and audible is the key. The student can then show enthusiasm for the topic. After the necessary preparations had been made, the teacher took the students to the ICRT studio in the adjacent college building. Each student then recorded their speeches on the microphone. This was to hone the oratory skill of tone and rhythm. The following class the students had to stand and repeat their ICRT recording in front of their peers.
We get them to practice. We get them to learn how to create a message that is worth listening to. Then we get them to deliver the speech and then, as they improve (and only then), do we focus on technique.
The message should first be learnt, then the technique.
We are trying to help our students by offering them constructive criticism, but often positive feedback works 10 times better. Public speaking can be learned naturally if you do it over and over again. However, if you don’t have somebody encouraging you and telling you that are doing a good job, then you are unlikely to continue practicing. So positive feedback is essential.
Some people are naturally theatrical and confident, but the majority of people are not. Therefore, at the Academy, we are giving positive feedback, adding in a little bit of constructive criticism, and then ending on positive feedback.
Nowadays, video is overtaking text as the main way people consume content.
So to that end, the students will next go to the video recording studio at the ICRT studio and be videoed when they are given their next assignment. All of these wonderful resources are available here at the academy. Few, if any, high schools can boast such great facilities.
In other news, the three foreign teachers at the academy were asked to complete a project assigned by the Tainan City Government.
They were asked to visit five cultural historic sites: Chihkan Tower, the Eternal Golden Castle, An Ping Fortress, Koxinga Shrine, and An Ping Tree House. The next assignment was to write about those five sites as if a foreign tourist was seeing them for the first time, to try to bring the sites to life in a way that is both contemporary and all the while maintains the historic integrity of those sites. For several weeks, the lecturers researched and thought about various means to introduce Tainan’s rich cultural past. Submissions have now been made, and they are awaiting responses, tips, suggestions from the relevant government authorities.
Jimmy’s presentation in the Space and Exploration class
One student, who researched the dwarf planet, Pluto, started her presentation with some humour