- Grades: 9–12
- Unit Plan:
An impromptu speech is delivered without preparation or thought ahead of time. In this lesson, students will hone their quick-thinking skills as they formulate an impromptu speech about a given topic.
- Present a 1-3 minute impromptu speech.
- Brainstorm topics of interest.
- Develop presentation skills.
- Evaluate other speeches while working cooperatively within small groups.
- Index cards
- Overhead projector
- Speech Rubric (PDF) printable
Set Up and Prepare
- Copy the Speech Rubric printable for each student.
- Make a transparency of the Speech Rubric printable.
- Gather several index cards, approximately 3-5 per student.
- Divide class into small groups of 3-5 students.
- If desired, gather a container for each group that will hold the topic cards to be chosen at random.
- Write the following topic on the board: What is your favorite summer activity and why?
This lesson should be taught as a response to any literature selection your class has studied that offers a comprehensive theme that students can expand into a theme park design. the play Romeo and Juliet or any Greek myths. You can certainly adapt a literature piece of your choice.
Step 1: Begin the lesson by instructing students to briefly think about the simple topic: What is your favorite summer activity and why?
Step 2: Ask for volunteers to respond to the topic by sharing an impromptu speech. Explain that an impromptu speech is delivered without preparation ahead of time and lasts between one to three minutes.
Step 3: Choose several volunteers to present. After each student speaks, ask the audience to share feedback on what was effective and what could be improved. Generate a discussion about public speaking, their experiences with presenting, and about historically famous speeches about which they have learned.
Step 4: Distribute the Speech Rubric printable. Using the overhead projector, review the expectations. Discuss appropriate content, organization, and presentation when public speaking.
Step 5: Share with students that they will be practicing their speaking skills while giving impromptu speeches about topics most interesting to them. Although they will not be graded on the impromptu speech, they should practice the skills. Mention to them that they will be preparing another speech later in the week that will be evaluated according to the rubric standards.
Step 6: Tell students that they will now brainstorm all interesting topics about which they will orally present to the class in a one to three minute speech. They will be working in small groups, selecting a random topic, and speak to the group about that topic. Distribute 3-5 index cards to each student, instructing them to write 3-5 topics they would be interested in speaking about on the cards. You may want to share the following suggestions beforehand:
Why do teenagers today grow up so fast?
Should parents censor the kind of music their teenagers listen to, the type of television shows or movies they watch, or the type of books they read?
If you could pump enormous amounts of money into one area of scientific research, what area would it be?
Step 7: Collect all topics. If time permits, read through each, making sure they are spelled correctly and are appropriate before making them available to the students.
Step 8: Assemble students and random topic cards into groups. Share the following instructions with the groups. Instruct each group to assign a time keeper. Then, allow time for each student to participate in giving his/her impromptu speech. Each student will rotate through the following process:
- Select a topic card.
- Think about the topic for no more than two minutes.
- Talk for no more than three minutes.
- Listen to each group member share one positive observation and one suggestion for improvement.
Step 9: Once the groups have finished, process the activity with the class. Ask the students what they learned, what they still need to work on, and what questions they may still have about public speaking.
Supporting All Learners
You may want to allow some students a longer amount of "think time" before giving their impromptu speech.
- Have each group choose their best speaker. Allow each to choose another topic and deliver another impromptu speech in front of the class.
- Keep the topics students brainstormed nearby and use them as a sponge activity right before the end of class or during another "free moment." Ask a volunteer to give a one minute impromptu speech about a topic you pulled from the bunch. Do this several times a week to provide many students an opportunity to practice their oral speaking skills. You may want to allow students to "pass" if desired, but encourage them to participate.
Have students ask their parents to help time them while practicing impromptu speeches at home.
- Brainstorm 3-5 topics of interest.
- Participate in a group activity, listening to, evaluating, and delivering an impromptu speech.
Were students engaged in the group activity? Did the Speech Rubric provide them with enough guidelines? Do students need more instruction before moving on to Lesson Two?
Observe students while they are practicing in their groups. Take note of students who seem to be "quick thinkers" and those who experience difficulty.