Alternative Conflict Resolution and Public Speaking Skills

This post covers Kids’ Court sessions from the past two weeks.  These sessions were both about the art of communication and the role that communication plays in a lawyer’s life.  In several weeks, Kids’ Court will conduct a second mock trial in which the students will have an active role in creating some aspects.  Thus, it was important for the students to learn how to present a speech with confidence and skill.  However, an integral part of being a good speaker is being a good listener and therefore we started these lessons with learning about Alternative Conflict Resolution.

The first exercise was the Bitten Dog/Beaten Dog scenario in which students were put in pairs and each was given information about the same conflict.  However, the students were on opposite sides of the conflict and were instructed to talk at the other student–preventing communication.  The classroom got very loud and no one could hear anything but a general rumble.  Following that exercise, we had a discussion about communication and how the students resolve conflict in their lives.  Next, I explained the different methods that lawyers use to resolve conflict.  These included: Mediation, Arbitration, Litigation, Communication, and Legislation.  The students were given a vocabulary sheet and a scenarios worksheet to help reinforce the definitions.

The second week of this series began with a Mock Mediation.  I chose two students to prepare a mediation based on the Bitten Dog/Beaten Dog scenario from the previous week.  I asked the students to write down the steps to a mediation before the demonstration so they could follow along and prepare to be the mediator in the next exercise.  The “guinea pig” students did a great job in front of the class and everyone was excited to try to be the mediator.  This exercise was really fun and all of the students had a great time!

Next we shifted gears and discussed the importance of public speaking.  The law student volunteers performed a Public Speaking Rap (see below).

Lyrics

Chorus
Public speaking, don’t be freaking
Just listen to the RRR technique in… (×3)
Public speaking, don’t be freaking
Just listen to the RRR technique in public speaking

Verse I
Have you ever seen a hip hop show
Where the emcee’s completely locked into the flow?
His words are clear, his voice is loud
And she really knows how to interact with the crowd
In public speaking you need the same types of things
It’s important to keep the audience engaged
So use eye contact, make sure you look around
Don’t just stare at the page or the sky or the ground

Keep a steady pace, make sure you don’t rush
Project your voice, don’t let it be hushed
‘Cause you could have some great points to convey
But they mean nothing if we can’t hear what you say
Humor is a great way to break the ice
And to emphasize your points, hand gestures are nice
And you can make your talk stronger with visual aids
Like a PowerPoint®, photo, or a graph that you made

Chorus

Verse II
Public speaking’s easier when you feel refreshed
So the night before, make sure you get plenty of rest
And it’s always critical that you know your audience
When it comes to this, just use some common sense
If you’re talking to a panel for college admissions
Use vocab. that shows intellect and ambition
But if you’re talking is a group of third graders instead
All those big words would go over their heads

Be sure to use voice inflection when you speak
‘Cause if you talk in monotone you’ll put the people to sleep
And the best way to master all of these tactics?
Practice, practice, practice!
Practice with your family, practice in front of a mirror
Practice so that every word is clearer
Practice builds confidence and makes you less nervous

Chorus

Credit: http://www.educationalrap.com/song/public-speaking.html

Following the rap, we played the “A, B, C Game.”  This game is a public speaking lesson in disguise.  The students were asked to incorporate the do’s and don’ts that they learned through the Public Speaking Rap, and recite the “A, B, C’s” as if it was a speech.  The students had so much fun with this exercise!  Many of them added questions and pauses as they recited the “A. B, C’s” through their intonation.  Some of the students got into character and recited emotionally stirring “A, B, C’s” as a Call to Action for some unknown cause.  All of the students made eye-contact with their classmates and paced around the room to keep their audience engaged.

Lastly, there was a Kids’ Court debate!  The students were split into two teams and asked to send one teammate from each team to the front of the class.  The individuals were given a topic, such as, “Recess should be extended to three hours per day,” and asked to debate the pro’s and con’s.  The teachers chose which side of the issue that the students had to argue for and this forced the students to think on their feet and create a well-spoken argument regardless of their personal point of view.  This was difficult for some of the students, but they asked their teammates for ideas and worked together to create the best argument.  The students enjoyed the debate and because we ran out of time, I think we’ll try to have another debate in the coming weeks.

BG