June 09, 2022
RCDS Grade 4 Student Recognizes the Power of Public Speaking Skills Outside of the Classroom
When Rumson Country Day School fourth-grade student Grant Chin won a race at the Orange Bowl Youth International Regatta in South Florida this year, he didn’t shy away from being interviewed on camera by the press box. When asked where his stage presence came from, he simply replied, “I used my Book Talk points.”
The Book Talk is a process that Chin’s teacher, Sarah Ahmadi, created to make the classic book report more meaningful and interactive. Rather than just logging hours of reading, fourth graders in Ahmadi’s class are tasked with analyzing, writing and presenting book discussions in front of their peers. Homework encompasses more than just reading comprehension. Students focus on public speaking skills – stand up straight, remember to make eye contact, be aware of your volume, expressions, pace, gestures and tone of your voice. These are the guidelines Chin said he kept in mind during his interview.
“I know that I struggle mostly with eye contact,” he explained. “So I really wanted to look at the camera. I tried using my voice volume, but didn’t really have to try too hard just because I’ve done it before. I was already comfortable enough to speak.
The Book Talk begins as a simple mission in the fall and becomes more challenging and independent as the year progresses.
“Students have different strengths and weaknesses, but each student is challenged and nurtured throughout the process,” Ahmadi said. “Kids who are confident in front of an audience may need to brush up on their writing skills, and those who may be shy on stage have a safe space to practice presenting. Students are so supportive of each other and because the experience is recurring, constant practice builds confidence, it also stimulates peer discussions and encourages students to explore new genres of reading.
A strong emphasis on life skills like public speaking is an important part of RCDS’ mission and program. The ability to articulate a message confidently in front of an audience is something students begin to practice at an early age. In addition to classroom performance opportunities, all elementary school classes – from beginner (kindergarten) through fourth grade – produce a play. As children progress through high school, after-school programs such as Model UN, Debate, and Drama reinforce the fundamentals of public speaking and give students the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities under pressure. RCDS graduates are regularly recognized for their poise and public speaking as they progress through high school and beyond.