Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Elements of Speech & the Superbowl Pre-game Talk

This week, the Baltimore Ravens meet the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl. One of these teams boasts the player who has what may be the most emotional pre-game speech/dance combination in NFL history. I'm speaking of the Ravens' Ray Lewis. Ray's  pre-game activities could be a valid artifact for communications and speech classes - it seems to be perfect for talking about occasion and the place of emotion in speech-making.

But what about all those weeks when Ray was injured? Did you ever wonder who did the pre-game speeches during his absence? Well Sports Friends offers a humorous take on that situation. In this (fictional?) situation Ray Rice approaches Joe Flacco to give the speech, and the results are a sort of Communications/Speech Class workshop on what NOT to do. I played this clip for my class and asked them to respond with comments on what went wrong with Joe's attempts - and to suggest fixes.

Watch the clip and see what you think.

Some student responses were:
  • " Joe shouldn't have shown that he was nervous and that he wasn't happy about giving the speech."
  • "To make his speech more effective, Joe should have used more passionate words that male sports men can relate to and that trigger the right emotions. Sentences like, 'You only have this one moment to show that you are powerful, that you have worked, sweated and bled to achieve success.'"
  • "He started quoting a movie that no one would know. He should consider his audience and what they would watch."
  • "Joe was referencing things his audience couldn't relate with. To be more effective he should have related more to his audience by referencing things he knew they were familiar with..."
  • "Joe was not enthusiastic enough to boost the morale of his teammates..."
  • "He didn't need to introduce himself to people who already knew him."
 You might build on these and other comments to talk about ethos, pathos, logos, kairos, audience, culturally-sensitive speech (the last remarks crossed the anti-semitic line, ouch.)

And, depending on the outcome of the game, you might let the students guess whether Joe or Ray Lewis gave the pre-game talk.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Buddy the Elf, Internet Free Candy, and Plagiarism

If saw "Elf" over the holidays, then you will remember this scene - Buddy the Elf is preparing to go to New York City to find his father when Santa offers him some advice, including the following:

"Well, there are some things you should know.
First off, you see gum on The street,
Leave it there. It's not free candy."

Of course, when Buddy arrives in NYC, he can't resist the "free candy" on the streets, the handrails, etc...Funny!
If you've taught a class that involves research, you will remember this scene - Students are preparing to complete a class to earn their degrees, and we offer them advice, including the following:

"To do good research, you should know some things.
First off, just because you can cut and paste something,
that doesn't mean it is good information.
Find reputable sources and cite them."

Of course, when your students actually get to writing the paper, they sometimes find random "free candy" on the internet to be irresistible. Not so funny.

I ran across an informative, if less-than-encouraging, article titled "The Top 10 Internet Sources College Students Us May Discourage You."  Oh, yeah, it does discourage us - especially after we've introduced them to the wealth of scholarly online resources that are available through our college or university libraries. I mean - millions of dollars worth of resources at their finger tips, peer-reviewed articles from the most erudite experts in every subject, ground-breaking studies in every field, and they "Google" for info on "steroids?"

(Thankfully, there are no sharp objects nearby as I write this. Anyway - take deep breaths and remain calm, Randy...)

So, I remind myself - and if it helps, you can remind yourself, too - our students are sort of like Buddy - this is their first trip to the big academic city. I will try to help them understand research and intellectual integrity from a broad view that deals with credibility, critical thinking, ethos, and what it means to be a "collegial" member of their new academic community. I will use a variety of approaches ranging from our official plagiarism statements to the story of Buddy the Elf. And I will keep telling myself that it's a process, and that it is my job to help my students (and colleagues) to develop an integrated approach to 21st-century digital literacy.

And I may or may not pass along this tidbit shared with me on Facebook recently:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

ESPN, Culture and Speaking "English" Slang

At some point in the term, when teaching rhetorics, critical thinking, cultural literacies, speech, composition, or other topics - I find it important to discuss how language is a culturally/socially constructed semiotic system. (I usually work from a broader intro that looks at how ontology, epistemology and semiology treat a "thing," but that's another story.)

I am planning to incorporate these ESPN commercials to help students think about how language (in this case, English) is a living, growing set of signifiers and signifieds. Maybe some of my colleagues in related fields would be able to make creative instructional use of these artifacts as well...

Video one is the commercial I saw first - and though I had no idea what these guys were "saying" - I got the idea: the speakers seem to be exactly alike from a first-blush broad-brush categorizing of the individuals as being from the UK - but each views the other as a polar opposite.

A Second video (now disappeared from the web) slows the action down and adds definitions to the "slang" English from across the pond.

So, don't be a right divvy - spice up your sessions with these discussion starters/illustrations. And remember which video is which, or you'll look like a proper digital plonker.