Activities and


Digital Ideas

Many digital tools exist to teach and showcase speaking skills. Digital tools are also an excellent way to give students a digital voice first before they have to present live in front of the class. Here are some instructional videos to watch followed by digital tools your class can use.

Building a talk for the audience

Many student presentations bore the listeners. The presentation was designed to meet teacher requirements, not engage the audience. Here is a video showing how to teach students to create a talk for specific audiences:


Use Students choose an avatar and give the avatar a voice. Use it when you teach Life and encourage students to stretch their comfort zone. Here is an example. And Voki can also be used for presentations as you’ll see here.


So much simpler than creating a slideshow with PowerPoint, is a terrific way to create presentations. It is easy to build engaging slides with images and, importantly, easy to record your own audio and video to include. See an example here.


Forget poster board and tri-fold tagboard brochures. Make an online poster at GlogsterEDU. Students can design the board, add pictures/documents/decorations, and most importantly, add audio and/or video of themselves speaking. Here’s an example:


At Blabberize, images can be uploaded and animated.  You select a picture, adjust the mouth, and record your voice.  Again, the finished product can be emailed or embedded.  For example (and you may need to be patient while it loads):

Online Discussion

Many students who are quiet in class become quite talkative in other environments.  The online environment allows students to think about their responses, rehearse, and delete if mistakes are made.  Students can formulate ideas and practice speaking before posting their responses.


Use It’s free and no signup is required. Students record and email you their comments.


Use Create a prompt and students can use their devices webcam to record video responses.


Use VoiceThread allows you (or students) to upload images and/or videos and record comments.  Visitors to the page can then continue the discussion by recording comments of their own.  Here is an example (feel free to add your response!):

Mini Lessons

Here is an overview of PVLEGS and what it means:

Now, use small, practice speeches to teach skills before the performance/recording day.

Teach POISE with one-minute talks. Ask students to talk about something familiar: What is your favorite restaurant? What is your favorite activity? Vacation spot? After the talk, ask students what tics or fidgets or odd behaviors they noticed. Let the student speak again now that he/she knows what to avoid.

Teach VOICE with one-minute talks. As above, use a safe, simple topic. When the student is finished, ask class members to raise hands if they heard every word. Speakers can see if their voice is just right for the space and/or if they were speaking clearly.

Use phrases and mini speeches that call for lots of LIFE. Find some phrases to use here: Phrases for teaching Life. Some mini-speeches can be found here: Mini-speeches for teaching Life. Use a tool such as Voki to let students play with adding life to the voice as demonstrated here. Are the podcasts the students make boring? (Hint: yes.) Here’s an audio lesson of a podcast without life and then with life:

Teach lessons about GESTURES. Use these phrases to give students practice: Teaching types of gestures. Then let students practice with these mini speeches that come alive with gestures: Tiny man and They were huge.

Teach a lesson about SPEED and use these speeches: One time and Crazy day.

A great way to look for PVLEGS in action

Because we focus on the meaning of the words, we can sometimes fail to pay attention to the delivery of the words. Use a speech in a foreign language. Have students watch this talk in Japanese and then talk only about the speaker’s PVLEGS.

See Well Spoken:Teaching Speaking to All Students for more mini lesson ideas.

Using Videos for Instruction

Video as a “rough draft” for a talk

You get rough drafts of papers, right? Get rough drafts of talks!

Every device has video recording capability. Mac devices have Photo Booth; PCs have webcams; cameras and phones can record video. Use whatever is convenient to video student performances.  You require a rough draft of essays so why not require a rough draft of speeches? Sit down with each student and show them the video and/or select some to share with the class.

Free. No sign up/no log in. Students record and email their rough drafts to you.

Google Voice

Do you have a Gmail account? You can get a Google Voice phone number for free. Students call the number and share 30 seconds or 1 minute of their talk.

Photo Booth (Mac)

It’s built into the dock of Apple devices. Record video of practice talks. Have the class evaluate the PVLEGS of the speaker. Play them at high speed and without sound for a great lesson in gestures and eye contact.

Videos as “Mentor Texts”

Now that students know what to look for in a speech–they have the building and performing framework!–use videos of talks as examples both good and bad.

An 8-year-old girl

A serious poise problem

A lifeless podcast

4th Graders’ Book Reports

Kindergarten weather presentations

Foreign language speech–we can’t evaluate the message so focus on PVLEGS

Amanda Gorman at the Inauguration

A common poise problem

Martin Luther King, Jr.

A foster care child sharing his story

Learning gestures from Sarah Kay’s TED talk

An undocumented immigrant delivers her valedictorian speech

Hao Zhang’s “Last Word” project from Hebron Acacemy

Can a child with a speech impediment give a talk?

A student’s poetry recititation


Watch Erik speaking about digital communication

What people are saying

“Perfect!  So glad I didn’t miss this… Great & accurate & usable.”

Comment from the Louisville, KY workshop