One More Time, with Feeling

Course Name: 
WRD 110
WRD 111
Assignment Type: 
Classroom Activity
Assignment Length: 
One Class Period
Primary Pedagogical Focus: 
Preparation Guidance and Instructor Advice: 

This is something I like to do once the class has started to talk about oral communication. I think it works well at the beginning of the semester, as sort of an ice breaker to get students used to speaking in front of the class. I like to play an example of a dramatic monologue before and review quickly what a monologue is. I find the Mary Katherine Gallagher skits from SNL work well for this.

Instructions to Students: 

First, I have students write down a single word that describes an emotion or mental state. I typically outlaw some of the more mundane examples, such as happy, sad, angry, etc.

Once all the students have written down an emotion, I have them trade papers with a partner.  The student then writes a monologue from the perspective of someone experiencing the emotion selected by their partner. This only has to be about a paragraph.

When finished writing the monologues, I have partners switch back. I then give everyone a minute or two to look over the monologue written by their partner and to consider ways they could go about acting it out.  Then I have them practice the monologues in pairs, before asking volunteers to come up front and share with the class (you may have to call on people, but there are generally at least a few hams).

When a student presents a monologue, I like to have the class try to guess what emotion inspired the piece. I then a conversation about tone and voice, and what choices people made vocally and physically to get communicate a certain feeling. This gets students thinking about how they can monitor their inflection and style in speeches and podcasts.

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