8 9 Fifth graders identify and communicate a lesson learned from personal experience. They read from behind a podium with a smooth pace and frequently make eye contact with the audience. Organization and a clear explanation of ideas are key as sixth graders deliver advocacy-themed speeches. They frequently refer to notes, but no longer read verbatim. Seventh graders enhance their speeches with visual aids, use the full presentation area in front of the podium, and rarely refer to their notes. A TED Talk structure begins to emerge. Eighth graders are storytellers and use their voices and gestures to convey passion for their topics. They read the audience and adjust their speaking to maximize engagement. 5th 6th 7th 8th Speeches & Sweets presentations increase in sophistication through the grades. The room is crowded with peers and parents as Isabelle steps forward to begin her seventh grade Speeches & Sweets presentation. Although the thought of having to deliver a speech strikes fear in many adults, public speaking, both formally and informally, is something Isabelle has been doing now for eight years. There are still some nerves, of course, but she’s relaxed and confident. Her words are powerful and they are delivered in the polished style of a person well beyond her 13 years. Public speaking at ACDS begins in Kindergarten, where students become comfortable sharing thoughts with their classmates during morning meeting, and might even be found making an announcement about their food drive for Blessings in a Backpack to the whole school at an assembly. Starting in first grade with the Authors’ Tea, students begin reading their written work in front of peers, parents, and, in the case of the third grade poetry reading, St. Elmo’s Coffee House patrons. In fourth grade, students find themselves on the stage, preparing to deliver lines with confidence and expression in their class play. Students in all grades, K-8, regularly present work completed in a small group to the rest of their class. Beginning in fifth grade, students participate in our annual Speeches & Sweets program. Each year, students get up in front of their parents and classmates to deliver a formal speech. By the time they deliver their eighth grade speech, it resembles a TED Talk in style and quality. Watch Isabelle's speech at bit.ly/acds_speech Isabelle EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR