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TNLI: Action Research: Curriculum Implementation: What Good is Accountable Talk If You Can’t Understand It?

The Importance of Teaching Kids to be Clear, Effective Speakers

Research Summary

How can I teach my students to be more effective speakers?

There is a strong emphasis on talk in our reading workshop, and throughout the day. Children have learned strategies that help them to have deep, thoughtful conversations about books, and also social studies. The content of these conversations is strong. Children in my class were also sharing current events, and presenting information they learned often in front of the class. 

We do not spend time during the school day teaching children how to be strong speakers. The amazing content of their conversations and presentations was often hard to follow, or even hear. I began to realize that my students needed to learn the skills behind clear, effective public speaking in order to communicate the information which I expected them to share.


I teach fourth grade at a Pre-K through 5 school in Brooklyn, New York. The school is very diverse, though very fortunate. Only 37 percent of our children qualify for free lunch, and our PTA is very active. Our school is also experienced with the reading and writing workshop method. My students have had reading workshop since Kindergarten and are used to having conversations as a class.

Data Collection

  • Tally charts to record positive speaking behaviors such as; appropriate volume, enthusiasm, coming to a point quickly, speed etc.
  • Student reflections about their speaking
  • Video of students speaking
  • Field notes recording class speaking activities or lessons, and how they went
  • Speaking rubrics filled out by peer speaking partners


Public speaking can easily be taught within all curriculum areas.Kids enjoy speaking activities, and put more effort into organizing information that they will present orally than information that they will simply write and turn in.The kids became better at coming to the point quickly, without going on and on.The kids were able to communicate information more effectively, and therefore, their peers listened more carefully.The kids felt that they were better speakers at the end of the year, and wrote that they felt more confident speaking in front of the class.The 3 children in my class who never wanted to talk in front of the class at all, and who mumbled quietly to themselves, speak loudly, and clearly.Regular speaking in front of the class makes it a routine that should be done well, rather then a stressful event.


Teaching speaking is an important life skill. It is part of the New York State standards, and is rarely taught in elementary school. As well as teaching children to have meaningful content in their conversations, we should teach them to effectively communicate as speakers.

Karen Ramirez

Research Focus:
Public Speaking

TNLI Affiliate:
New York City

PS 29-John M. Harrigan
425 Henry Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

If you would like to learn more about Teachers Network Leadership Institute, please e-mail Kimberly Johnson for more information.



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