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Lesson No.6 I Have a Beef!

This has been a staple in my teaching for years.

This is a presentation project. Students will negotiate a topic with the teacher, then on a given class meeting the student will deliver the speech.

Sounds kinda like standard fare.

Read on.

Students must pick a topic that reveals something that has gone on or is going on in their lives that makes them angry. They need to complain. They need to share what's been bothering them for a while. They need to share a beef about something or someone with the rest of the class.

A topic and speech delivery date needs to be determined and approved by the teacher-which is done in secret from the rest of the class.

The date of the speech should be determined in the first week of class. The presentations should be marked down on a calendar. Make sure they are spread throughout the rest of the term. Try not to get too many in one week. Since the date of the Beef is known only by the teacher and the presenting student, when that day comes for a student, he or she must interrupt the lesson, and announce that they have a beef today. In fact, they must say, "I have a Beef!". Interruption is of course not really interruption because the teacher already knows it's coming, BUT the other students don't now, and they are genuinely surprised. This is part f the drama and fun of the assignment. It could happen anytime, any day of the class, and the students relish this.

Of course, the teacher's lesson is interrupted, but that's OK. The teacher then promptly sits down and gives the student with the beef the floor.

The student then delivers his or her beef.

That's basically it.

Grading is a bit different as well. The student with the beef has 5-6 minutes to state their case. If after that time, the other classmates conclude that the beef speech was not good enough to continue on, they-by secret ballot, vote whether to give the speaker more time. The more the speaker gets to speak, the better the grade is. For example, a speaker speaks for 5 minutes, but hasn't really told their story yet and there's some genuine interest from the audience to the speaker to continue. Then, the speaker continues. However, if the beef is not well planned out, prepared for, or the delivery is not passionate and genuine enough, then they are voted to stop speaking. Grading is up to you according to the syllabus/curricular demands that have been placed on you.

In my 10 years of doing this assignment, I have never once had a student be voted not to speak anymore. It is truly the best speech my students ever give. I have never been disappointed. In fact, this has usually been the highlight assignment of the term. Plus, I and the class get to really know what's going on with their classmates. I have had some really breakthrough moments with the students with this assignment. Part of this is giving the students a forum to vent. To share what's really going on in their lives. Topics I have witnessed have ranged from AIDS, war, abuse, starvation, relationship issues to more mundane things like parking tickets, dealing with traffic, or the noisy eating habits of their roommate.