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Day 9 - A Communication Foundation

Jul 19, 2016 10:08:00 PM

The Experimentory is all about innovation, but innovation is fruitless without the ability to share your ideas with other people. That is why all Experimentors take Communications classes: to set that essential foundation. Program Proctor Valentina Connell has been assisting our Communications Teacher, Ms. Speed, in class – an experience she reports to us about in our Day 9 post.

It’s a Monday afternoon and the Theatre & Electronics Cluster 2 students assemble in the Acting Lab for Communications Class. Each Experimentor takes two forty-five minute Communications Classes each week: one with their morning cluster and one with their afternoon cluster. I’ve had the unique opportunity to assist teacher Ms. Speed as she helps students learn interpersonal and public speaking skills.

During the first week of Communications, Experimentors participated in some interesting activities. One day, they walked around the room silently as they looked into each others’ eyes – sometimes quite awkwardly – to practice holding eye contact. Another day they lined themselves up chronologically by birthday, without talking, writing or mouthing words, or gesturing numbers with fingers on their hands. (Most students solved this by indicating the number of months and days by clapping their hands or tapping their feet. Though this never worked out perfectly, they came very close!) Students also wrote detailed instructions on how to tie a shoe, as if they were directing someone who had never tied shoes before. Communications has been lively – a class packed with challenging but fun activities.

Jennifer takes notes preparing to speak in Communications class
Jennifer takes notes about her partner

The students are working on the “Sell Your Partner” activity, which is a favorite. Last week,the students were assigned partners who they then interviewed to get to know them. They used that information to write pitches on why their partner would make a great friend. This week, they are delivering them to the full class.

Students pull up chairs and Bella and Amethyst, the first group, step on to the platform. Each “sells” the other with much enthusiasm. Amethyst is cool, Bella says, because she wants to be an astronaut or scientist when she grows up, and she’s from Barbados. Amethyst promises that Bella knows where all the best pizza is since she’s from Long Island, and that she knows America “like the back of her hand” because she’s been to ten states. Each successive group delivers their pitches, and the room is filled with laughter, applause, and great energy.

After the “Sell Your Partner” activity, the class in a circle, and each student shares what qualities they learned should be included in good presentations: enthusiasm, positivity, good energy, confidence, volume, gestures, and eye contact.

Two students rehearse their lines for their Communications "Sell Your Friend" Project.
Amethyst and Bella rehearsing

The goal of Communications Class is to “give the students the skills to communicate [the ideas they learn] effectively in small or large settings,” according to Ms. Speed. This is her second year teaching Communications at the Experimentory after serving as a Communications Teaching Fellow with Ms. Sherburne last summer.

Experimentors recognize the value of Communications Class as well.

“I think that Communications will help us… for the rest of our lives really, because if you can’t communicate something the right way, then no one will take you seriously with all the ideas that you have,” says Bella.

Brandon enthusiastically presents Joshua to his Communications Class.
Brandon enthusiastically sells Joshua as a friend.

Noah, another student, shares, “I think Communications will help me in the Experimentory and beyond when it comes to me speaking, because I’m not that strong of a public speaker, because sometimes I stutter or forget what I’m going to say. So I’m hoping that it will help me use my voice.”

The value of Communications extends beyond just speaking: students learn that it’s ok to make mistakes and grow from them, especially in the supportive environment of the Experimentory.

– Valentina C.

The Exp Summer Daily provides news and updates while we are in session in July and August. The rest of the year, check out the Experimentory Blog for posts feature our students, teachers, classes, values, goals, and plans for the coming year.