Collaborative Assignment Design – Kyueun Kim and Kahdeidra Martin

Assignment Overview

Rhetoric is an important skill and art form that is used in all disciplines and aspects of life. As educators of speech communication and English composition, we want to support our students in strengthening their abilities to craft and deliver a speech that is appropriate to one’s occasion and audience. We collaborated to design one assignment that could be used in both introductory level speech and composition courses at undergraduate institutions.

For a final assignment, students will perform a commemorative speech in class. This assignment supports the objective of using the writing process to plan, revise, and finalize written assignments for diverse audiences, that is common to both speech communication and composition courses. In composition courses, the assignment also supports close reading and literary analysis skills. For example, students will need to develop a strong understanding of  characterization and other elements of fiction in order to convincingly write from the perspective of a character. In addition, they will use close reading strategies to make realistic predictions about character behavior in imagined contexts, thereby extending the author’s narrative.


Student Facing Assignment

Final Assignment: Commemorative Speech

Have you ever attended a wedding and nearly teared up when the maid of honor and best man offered their undying support and praise for the bride and groom? Or, have you ever imagined yourself winning a coveted prize or award for your dedication and achievement in [whateveritisyoudobest]? What would you say at the award ceremony? What would others say about you?

For our final assignment, you will write and perform a commemorative speech. This speech focuses on the use of language and performance to celebrate and show gratitude to someone or something. You can pay tribute to a person close to you, a celebrity, a group of people, an institution, an event, or an idea, etc. It calls for a less didactic speech than informative and persuasive speeches.

We will prepare for our live performances by: 1) drafting and editing our written speeches, 2) viewing and evaluating sample speeches from the media, and 3) performing and assessing a rehearsal speech. By the time we begin final speeches, all students will have received ample feedback on the content, format, and oral performance of their works. It is my hope that the final speeches are a celebration of growth and learning over the semester.

Part I – Write

Composition Prompt: Write a 3-5 min. commemorative speech based on the perspective of a character in a short story, poem, or play that we have read throughout the semester. Here are a couple of options that may be useful to start your thinking:

  1. Did your character attend an event at which he or she could have recited a commemorative speech?
  2. Based on your knowledge of the character’s interests, desires, and aspirations, imagine an achievement that he or she may be lauded for in the near future. Whom would he or she thank for support along the way?
  3. Does your character know anyone who may be getting married, achieving something remarkable on the job, winning an election, or other action that would elicit a celebration? Or, could someone they love pass away? What would your character say as words of  praise or eulogy?

Speech Communication Core Prompt: Write a 3-5 min. commemorative speech based on a real or imagined situation.

Take some time to review your notes and readings. Next, review the Exemplary Commemorative Speeches From Movies and note any patterns or strategies that you think will be helpful in drafting your own speech. You can use the speech graphic organizer 7 steps to writing your commemorative speech to help with writing your first draft.

Assessment: I will assess your written speeches using the Special Occasion Speech Rubric, and I will also use the same sheet to evaluate your delivered speech. The written speech is worth 70 points total, and the delivered speech is worth 50 points.

Part II – Evaluate

Evaluate a recorded commemorative speech from a real life or fictional context. During a class session, we will choose one of the example speeches to view and analyze using the Out-of-Class Speech Observation Worksheet. This will provide a guided model for you before you embark on the individual assignment.

View at least two speeches from the list below and choose one to evaluate:

        1. Madonna’s Tribute to Michael Jackson (6:39)
        2. Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech  at the 2018 Golden Globes (9:39)
        3. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 Tonys Acceptance Speech: ‘Love is Love’ (1:34)
        4. A Beautiful Mind John Nash: 1994 Nobel Prize Acceptance Address [VIDEO + DIGITALLY ENHANCED AUDIO!]  (1:40)
        5. Mr. Holland’s Opus Governor Lang Honors Mr. Holland and his Opus [VIDEO + Digitally ENHANCED AUDIO!] (2:24)
        6. The Life of Emile Zola Eulogy for Emile Zola         [VIDEO + DIGITALLY ENHANCED AUDIO!] (2:32)

Complete the “Out of Class Observation” worksheet for your chosen clip, and be prepared to discuss your feedback during class.

Assessment: I will assess observations as Complete or Incomplete. This assignment counts towards your Informal Writing grade and will not be included as part of your final grade for the commemorative speech assignment.

Part III – Rehearse

After editing your written speech to incorporate feedback, you will rewrite it, and record a rehearsal speech. First, you will divide into pairs, and then you will record and upload your speeches to Vocat. Use the Commemorative Speech Evaluation Form to evaluate your partner’s speech and to provide written and oral feedback. In addition, you will complete the Special Occasion Speech Self-Assessment to evaluate your own speeches.

Assessment: I will assess observations as Complete or Incomplete. This assignment counts towards your Informal Writing grade and will not be included as part of your final grade for the commemorative speech assignment.

Part IV – Showtime!

As a culminating activity, you will incorporate your learning and feedback from Parts I- III to perform a live commemorative speech during class. Before delivering your speech, prepare a 4-5 sentence introduction to identify your character, the occasion, and projected audience for the speech.

Assessment: I will use the Delivery and Time limit sections of the “Special Occasion Speech Rubric.” You can earn up to an additional 50 points towards your speech. Your final grade for the speech will be based on the total points earned from Parts I and IV (70 + 50 = 120 points possible). (Note: The time limit is 3 min. on the rubric, so we would edit it to 5 min. before teaching this unit.)

Technology Use:

Students will use a range of open access technology to complete their assignments. First, they will need access to Vocat. It is an effective tool to use for annotation and for a peer review assignment such as ours. However, the loading time is excessive, and there are often glitches. Second, they will need access to an electronic device with recording capabilities because they will need to record their own speeches in order to upload them to Vocat. Third, students will need access to a reliable internet connection in order to view the six example speeches on various websites, and they will need to use word processing software to type their final speeches. Finally, they will need access to a printer in order to run off hard copies of their completed manuscripts.

Motivation: March 5th Readings by Kahdeidra

Hey! This is cool! As some of you may know, I am a former special education  teacher and coordinator of after-school programs. Thus, I have experienced a lot of trial, error, heartache, surprises, and major wins in discovering how to engage learners with diverse interests, skill sets, and goals (PROBLEM).

I have separated this provocation into three prompts, and you can feel free to respond to whichever one speaks to you the most, or try your hand at a combination of the three (CHOICE).

  1. Bean’s chapters on integrating writing and critical thinking in the classroom makes several interesting arguments about the value of writing. Bean’s central argument is that writing is both a process and a product. When the connections between writing and critical thinking are explored, the value of writing as a process can be gleaned. Once writing is imagined as packaging, he argues, devoid of thinking and creating, it loses value among learners (Bean 16). He gives examples of how different European cultures have words to express the concept of writing as a process (ie. ‘brouillon’ < French which means to scramble, to place in disarray). English does not have an equivalent concept. Another example that I can think of that the English word ‘essay’ is derived from the French essayer (to try, attempt) and essai ( a trial). Currently, we retain the meaning of essay as an attempt or endeavor in formal use, but the most common usage is for a structured composition. The dual meanings of ‘essay’ as both a verb and a noun illustrates Beans’ argument of writing as a process and a product. Why and how did we come to emphasize the product over the process in the United States? Is this related to a larger discourse on experimentation and conformity in schools? What do you think?

2. In Chapter 3, Bean addresses cultural assumptions about the centrality of writing in academia, and argument writing being the preferred “academic discourse” over other modalities in particular. Was it satisfying to you? How is his rationale in conversation with UDL principles? Do you agree with his characterization of “three cognitively immature essay structures” as “organizational problems”? Be honest. Does it vary by context, or are these structures universally flawed?

3. The three principles of Universal Design for Learning–multiple representation of content, multiple opportunities for expression and action on new content, and multiple opportunities to engage in learning–have been the most useful for me as an educator. It provides a cognitive basis for addressing diverse learners by presenting difference as the norm, not as a deficit that minoritizes learners. Because cultural and neurodiversity are facts of life, curricula must attend to this diversity. My colleague Luis Oleander, who created the UDL for Teachers website (, and I  have collaborated on topic briefs to explain how UDL can be used to support linguistically diverse students. Using the videos on his website, and the video on the SPS Faculty Community site, consider the following questions:

  • How does UDL align with the Composing practices of expert academic writers (Bean 30-31)?
  • How does UDL align with Bean’s conclusion on integrating professional and personal writing? Do you agree with these categorical distinctions in writing? Have you encountered and used expressive writing in your own academic courses? Explain.
  • Review the poster descriptions on “Do’s and Dont’s on Designing for Accessibility.” Is it possible to use the  UDL framework to consolidate the advice given? Why or why not? Are there any commonalities among the suggestions?

Kahdeidra’s Preliminary Project Brief

Religion plays a central role in the lives of many New Yorkers. According to the 2014 Religious Landscape Study of the Pew Research Center, 56% of adults in New York state believe in God with absolute certainty, 45% believe that religion is very important in their lives, and 48% pray at least once daily. While religion and spirituality are important to New Yorkers, African diasporic religions (ADRs) are often marginalized, misrepresented, or left out altogether. There is a need for a unified space where people can find multimedia presentations covering a range of ADRs that are practiced in NY state, and in NYC in particular.

In doing preliminary research, I found a website devoted to NYC religions, “A Journey Through NYC Religions,” but not surprisingly, African diasporic religions are otherized. They literally fall under the category of “Other.” As an afterschool program coordinator, I attended trainings by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. They were truly inclusive of world religions. The problem is that only a small, self-selecting group of schools and youth development programs will access their trainings. What about the teacher who identifies bullying of students that is rooted in both racism and religious prejudice? What about the youth whose families practice one or more ADRs, but they are scared to mention it in school, hiding a critical aspect of their identities? We need tools that are universally accessible and that can support individuals in navigating complex conversations.

I want to create an internet space that promotes faces, voices, and geographic locations from these communities.  My target audience is teachers, adolescent youth, and college level students. It would include the following:

  • short written articles with links
  • religious songs and music videos
  • video footage of interviews with religious leaders and heads of cultural institutions in each borough
  • data visualization and mapping to illustrate where populations and places of worship are in each borough
  • Interactive educational games based on the content of the website

I envision that the website will be designed for both desktop and mobile access. Users can be at home, in school, at the library, or anywhere where internet access is available. I intend to use Commons software to design the website because WordPress is a common platform. Another alternative platform would be Wix, as it allows for a more engaging interface. I currently maintain a website my own website that was designed on Wix and am somewhat familiar with the tools. I would pay for the yearly hosting of the site through my publishing company, Dimonet Connect Publishing LLC. I would need to look into sponsorships as a possibility.

For the educational games, I am not yet sure of which software to use or websites to use as a model. I will build the basic design for the website and will need to enlist the help of a videographer to record interviews. I had originally planned to produce all of the content, but someone suggested to me that I could find a way to invite community members to submit content, as well. I will need to give this more thought.

Kahdeidra’s Project Idea

I am interested in the theoretical and applied connections between coding, game design, and literacy. In particular, I would like to design online games and apps that support critical linguistic awareness among African American youth in the United States. Linguistic diversity is often used as synonym for multilingualism, where variation within named languages is omitted. Linguists contend that the differences between languages and dialects are politically rather than scientifically determined. While the shifts from Black English to African American Vernacular to African American Language signify important ideological perspectives, naming itself does not instigate attitudinal and structural changes.

The default focus on named languages has tangible effects on education policy as the diversity of English varieties within speech communities is ignored. There are neither critical linguistic awareness professional development for teachers nor pedagogical interventions for speakers of regional and world English varieties. Because of this void, I would like to create interactive technology that uses game design to teach youth what I have termed comparative American linguistic and cultural awareness (CALACA). Calaca is a Mexican and Central American term for ‘skeleton’ or ‘death.’ As skeletons represent the ancestors, CALACA builds respect for the multicultural and multilingual inheritance of the Americas. In addition, CALACA also promotes religious pluralism by centering indigenous and African traditional religions.

Kahdeidra Martin Bio

My name is Kahdeidra Monét Martin. I am a writer, self-publisher, educator, and researcher with more than 13 years of working in education. I have worked as a tutor, club facilitator, after school site coordinator, community center assistant director, special education teacher, and lecturer of developmental English and composition.

My lifelong interests are in language, literacy, sociolinguistics, pedagogy, and Africana studies. I have a B.A. in African and African American Studies and an M.S.Ed. in Teaching Urban Adolescents with Disabilities. Currently, I am a Ph.D. student in Urban Education at the Graduate Center. In addition, I am a research assistant for Professor Melissa Schieble at Hunter College on a project examining critical conversations, and I am a Mellon Humanities Alliance Graduate Teaching Fellow at LaGuardia Community College.

My writing is divinely inspired, ancestrally edifying, and culturally conscious. I am outside of the mainstream, aligned with the Universe. I teach from my spirit, driven by the ethos of unity and justice to fan the flame of inquiry within all students. What inspires them to be their highest selves?