TEDTalks: Using SOAPSTone Note Taking Method for Speeches

“TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader…TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less).” 

-“About TED,”  TED wesbite

TEDTalks are an engaging way to examine elements of speeches, but also elements of non-fiction, information-based texts.  The speech to text conversion is easy because on the TED website, there is a place to “show transcript” for many of the popular speeches (they even offer them in different languages).  Then, the speech can be copied into a Word document.  It might have to be reformatted a little, which I was able to do in five or so minutes.  Once this is done, the speech can be looked at in a number of formats and more easily “read closely.”

This is what Melanie Begley and I did with the Kelly McGonical speech “How to Make Stress your Friend” referenced in a previous post.  We combined this TEDTalk with the SOAPSTone method of note taking.  In the method, students are asked to identify and provide textual evidence for the following: Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject and Tone.  There is a Power Point and handout (“notes sheet”) for introducing this concept attached at the end of this post.  Here are the learning targets for the lesson:

  • I can define and identify speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject, and tone in the context of text analysis.
  • I can analyze texts (in this case speeches) to better understand the author’s message and intention.
  • I can evaluate the effectiveness of a piece of writing (or speech) based upon these factors.

Students had already watched the speech and been given a transcript the previous day, so I introduced the parts of SOAPSTone to them and then gave them time to work in groups on identifying the elements.  Here is the lesson plan we used:

SOAPStone Lesson Plan

  1. Pass out the “SOAPSTone Notes” handout with terms to students and review the learning targets with them, connecting learning to the long-term goal of evaluating sources and using persuasion in their own writing
  2. Using the Power Point, review all elements of the SOAPSTone method with students
  3. Pass out the large SOAPSTone papers to the groups and read the “Activity: In Groups” slide in the Power Point
    1. At this time, let them know they will need the SOAPSTone information and they should either plan to take a picture of it with their phone or copy the group’s work to the graphic organizer provided as they work
    2. Allow students 15-20 minutes to work in groups (depending upon time left in class); While students work, circulate and assist, focusing on the groups identified as needing help from the formative assessment
    3. Stop groups and read the “Rotate” slide
    4. Have students move to the next group’s work and evaluate the analysis using the prompting questions on the slide
    5. In the last five minutes, pass out and explain the exit ticket- due tomorrow

*On an  additional note, we added some time for reflection at the end of the class period, prompting students to consider what they had learned from examining another group’s work.  This was very successful.

While both Melanie and I liked the lesson, activity and materials quite a lot, we both agreed that more time would be needed to really flesh out the details of the process with students.  For example, we only filled out three sections of the SOAPSTone instead of the whole thing.  In addition, they only rotated once to see another group’s work.

Ideally, they would comment on two group’s work and fill out the whole SOAPStone.  Then, we would have them go back to their own paper and revise the notes sheet to reflect what they had learned.

On a sub-note, we did try grouping homogeneously by ability level based upon a formative assessment.  We were not sure how well it worked for this particular activity.

Here are the resources for the lesson:

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