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"I've Changed the World for the Better:" Seventh Grade Historical Figure Speeches focus on Impact

In Ms. Derry's English 7 class, students have the opportunity to be both creative and analytical. They showcase their creativity through writing short stories, writing poems, and creating collages related to the class novel, and they showcase their analysis through writing essays and discussing ideas together in class.
One project that allows students to be both creative and analytical is their speeches. In this project, students choose one person – either contemporary or historical – who has changed the world for the better. They research that person, practicing their notetaking, database use, and citation skills. Then, they write and recite a speech in the voice of their chosen changemaker, speaking in first person. This speech gives them the opportunity to practice both informational and persuasive writing. Students dress as their character and perform their speech, practicing their public speaking skills and teaching each other about important historical and contemporary figures.
Students chose particularly interesting changemakers this year. Some chose more well-known historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Jackie Robinson, and Albert Einstein. Others chose lesser-known historical figures such as Charity Adams Earley and Christopher Latham Sholes, giving other students the opportunity to learn about someone new. Several students also chose significant contemporary voices such as Ibram X. Kendi, Malala Yousafzai, LeBron James, and Misty Copeland.
This year, students also adapted to the virtual and hybrid environment by recording their speeches on Flipgrid. This allowed students to watch each other’s speeches at their own pace and provide comments about what they liked and what they learned. Overall, students created well-researched and persuasive speeches that explored the breadth of how people can change the world.
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