If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential. You have to learn to communicate in life — it’s enormously important — Warren Buffett
When asked for one piece of advice for young people, Warren Buffett did not offer a tip about finance or investment, he highlighted communication skills, Rachael Mann, founder of #TeachlikeTED, told attendees during a session at ACTE’s STEM is CTE Symposium.
“Communication skills are more important than ever,” Mann said. “When we empower our students to speak, we are giving them a step above the rest to be able to go in and have those skills that are missing.”
Technology and communication
“Technology is something that’s changed the way our students think, and [so] how do we take that technology and use it as a positive tool,” Mann asked. She highlighted the following tech tools to help support presentation literacy and communication skills:
- Video Teleprompter Lite – Better Scripted Videos: The tendency when giving a speech is to talk too fast, so this allows students to embed their scripts into the app, Mann explained. Students video themselves while reading the scripts, and they are able to see themselves, analyze their facial expressions to make sure they aren’t “mean mugging” when they’re talking and practice speaking speed, she added. This also is a good tool for times when students need to create videos for submission because the final video does not show the script.
- PromptSmart Lite Teleprompter: Students can use this tool when giving a presentation in front of class instead of using note cards, which can get messed up or flop around, showing how much students are shaking because they are nervous, Mann said. Students embed the script, and the teleprompter responds to voice so if a teacher or someone asks a question and interrupts the speech, the app stops the script and waits until it hears the student’s voice again.
- Howjsay English Pronunciation Dictionary: Students sometimes struggle with how to pronounce works. This is available on the computer or as an app, and even if there are multiple ways to pronounce a word, it will give you the different pronunciations, Mann explained. It also gives access to extra resources such as definitions and synonyms.
- Speech in Minutes: This tool is helpful when students are preparing for competitions in which they have a certain length of time; they use this instead of timing their speech, Mann said. First, you add your rate of speech — below average, average, above average, and then the number of works in your speech, and the program tells you how many minutes you’re going to be talking.
- Flip Grid: “It’s one of my favorites right now,” Mann said. The design allows you to see all of the different students, and when you click on their images, you’ll hear their speeches. Students and teachers can give video or text feedback, and the admin dashboard also allows educators to give students digital badges. Mann said she uses this before presenting to group of students; she’ll ask them to upload an “about me” video ahead of time so she gets to know a little bit about them ahead of time. “Plus, I have a cheat sheet because I can have the page open on my phone as they are coming in, and I see their face and name, and I’m able to greet them by name,” she added. “I’ve had kids tell me that it took them 20 times to get a 3-minute talk uploaded because they wanted to get it perfect; that’s really great practice [and] they are doing because they want to.”
Melissa Greenwood is the education content director at SmartBrief.
Tech Tips is a weekly column in SmartBrief on EdTech. Have a tech tip to share? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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