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Um....A Little Advice??

I'm used to giving talks and even enjoy it.  On the other hand, Rachel is pretrified of public speaking. Heck she gets nervous talking on the phone.  But, me?  A natural-born ham.  You can plop me in front of a room full of 200 people and I'd far rather give a talk than to them than go outside and mow my lawn. Rachel is the exact opposite.  So I don't mind and even enjoy giving talks.  But I'm usually talking about the Amish Cook and Amish culture in front of a group of 50-something year-old ladies .  But not this time, not this Friday.  I was roped into giving a talk about the Amish to a couple of sixth-grade classes.   The idea of talking to a group of fifth and sixth graders on a Friday afternoon in the spring seems to me to be akin to being thrown to a pack of hungry wolves.    Sixth-graders, that is like, age 12, right?  These are "little people" but not quite in the same way as TLC'S show Little People, Big World?  Anyone reading this can see the extent of my experience with children.  Um, does anyone have any advice to keep me from being chewed up and spit out by a bunch of sixth-graders on Friday???  What is the best way to "reach" these people??

Re: Um....A Little Advice??

Depends on the 6th graders and many of them are not too little by the way. Kids were smaller when I was a kid but I'm way off topic.

I know that younger people nowadays are very into touching things because a lot of what they do is visual and interactive. If they could touch those bonnets and things like that they will respond more positively. If you don't have pics large enough to see you could pass them around. Again they touch everything.

Watch them closely though, there is always one in the bunch that steals. Not that I'm bashing kids but I used to partake in cultural demonstrations where we had 1000 kids a day from ages 5 to high school.

Food is a dangerous thing to get involved with because of food allergies and cultural restrictions. If the school allows it then label everything clearly. In addition the numerous peanut allergies there are a lot of kids allergic to gluten/wheat products now as well.

Is that a rural, suburban, or urban school? Suburban kids are the picky eaters in my opinion whereas rural and urban kids tend to come from poorer families and are less prone to having a million restrictions.

I think you will have fun and it will be interesting. Talk with them not at them and they will respond in a carefree manner.  If you openly admit to not being in the know about what goes on in their world they'll fill you in and in turn they will be receptive to hearing your speech. Like one of the things I have said was like "hey before I get started does anyone have an xbox or playstation?" Then I make up something like I'm having a problem with my controller what should I do to fix that?  After they tell me how to fix it I start my speech on my culture, by then they are cool with me because I treated them like an adult and not a baby.

 P.S. I don't have a playstation or anything like that but I know they like them and I have to find a way to connect.

Re: Um....A Little Advice??

Hi its me, KJunebug on the road!

Well I have two amazing 12 tr old boys who would have loved to hear your talk! On the other hand. It all depends on how they are being raised by their parents, some can be quite annoying.

We have covered quite a number on miles and are about to cross the Mighty Mississippi! This is where are trip really begins. Luv, we found a Hy Vee in Nebraska yesterday, loved it, and we did get a gas discount too. Tomorrow we will be out in Amish country, today its John Deere and Amercian Girl Place. America is beautiful! A highlight is that we stumbled across the "Golden Spike NHS" in Utah by luck, we were there on May 10, the anniversary of the driving of the spike. They charge no admission on the anniversary, and they do a full reinactment, it was so-so cool! One of my sons loves trains - so real steam engines were pretty darn cool! The bummer was that we lost a couple hours travel time, which we made up yesterday, in a very long 11 hour drive. We are looking forward to seeing the mid atlantic states!

Have a great week, I will give you another update when I get the chance!


Gas prices have been fairly average across American up to this point.

LuvMaerz's picture
Re: Um....A Little Advice??

"Aspire to inspire before you expire"

There is DEFINITELY a reason I didn't become a teacher... much love to you all who did, though!

When my kids were at daycare in Quincy, the only treats that were allowed were unopened, store bought.  I think here in our smaller town homemade stuff is still allowed, but I am not sure about the whole allergy thing.  A lot of schools are going peanut-free, etc.  I truly feel for people/parents who have to deal with severe food allergy precautions.  I did notice that Wal-Mart's "Great Value" brand is now carrying a jarred soynut butter by the peanut butter, so maybe people will start having more alternatives more readily available. 

Re: Um....A Little Advice??

Oh yum, a soynut butter & jelly sandwich........

Re: Um....A Little Advice??

Kevin, Check with the school that you are presenting at, many of the schools are current with modern technology.  For example, at my school, you can do a power point presentation to the whole cafeteria/gym/library/etc. where everyone can see due to the system we have, smart boards, etc.  Mutimodality is the best way to go.  Key thing I say that is important when working with any children is to remember they can tell if you are afraid and they will 'feed' on it.  Most the kids this time of year are ready for summer break, with that in mind: keep it light, keep it fun,  make it relevant to them.

Re: Um....A Little Advice??

Pace!  Pace! Pace!  Keep a quick pace.  Don't turn your back & don't be hesitant.  2nd semester 6th graders are totally different than they were last fall.  Keep it going----wait time for answers is not useful here, only when you already have a history with the group.  But really, you will have fun with them. 

This part involves a phone call or visit ahead of time:  If you can, ask the classroom teacher[s] [privately, ahead of time]  to stay in the room to keep an eye out for 'stuff,' so that the person[s] can sit with one of them or be escorted out without you having to skip a beat & risk losing the others. Also, ask the teachers whether the kids need to stay in their usual seats or sit closer [chairs/floor].  This is their call, not yours.  They will know what works with that group.  With 2 teachers, one can hope that they aren't both substitutes.  Hopefully the teachers will want to stay for the purpose of working what you say into their curriculum later.  It would help you to know just what/how they are studying the Amish, as well.  Tell them if you're going to need a student desk or table to set things on, including your notes, so you don't have to keep reaching down to get stuff from floor level. 

Plan, plan, plan-----& make your notes dark/large, so you don't have to look down at them too much.  Good to have items to show/talk about.  Passing things around can be lethal, time/behaviorwise, so just have things that can be seen.   It would be great to have 3 or 4 largish items [tools/hats/cap/bonnet], even if 1 or 2 kids have to be sent out to help carry them in.  Arrive early, so you can take care of this, & whatever else comes your way.  No pictures, unless they are large enough to be seen by the entire group.  Today's chalkboards often are magnetic, so you may be able to post things that way----or have a couple of kids do it.  This age is quite capable, just high-spirited, at times. 

If you're going to stress a few words, make a chart ahead of time that can be seen all the way to the back, rather than trying to write them on the board as you go.  Use magnets to put it up.  Take along a few magnets if you have them, as well as masking tape.  I know classrooms usually have these, but it's easier to be well supplied than to have to stop, ask, wait, etc.  Don't worry about using multi-syllable words with these kids-----they've been hearing them for a few years----just talk your regular way-----they can spot anything that smacks of talking down or phoniness a mile away.  And, they are just as likely to be helpful to you as mischievous.    They really are fun, much of the time, because they have still have one foot in childhood, while the other is into being independent/cool.  Do enjoy them! 

"In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer."                                             


TomK's picture
Re: Um....A Little Advice??

Well some other questions pop up, where are this kids located? around you? Big school system,  little school? more suburban then Urban?  Through my experience all kids are not the same even though they are all 6th grade different locations, different upbringing ,ect all play a part...

 One thing I was always successful at was doing presentions as interactive show and tell type...

Re: Um....A Little Advice??

The food is a superb idea...although, see this is where at least here in the USA I probably would ultimately nix the idea....God forbid if a kid had allergies...I mean even if I made Amish sugar cookies there's probably some kid who would get sick, I'd be sued and her or she would end up in the hospital.....Are people in Canada as obsessed about suing one another as we are here?  So probably no food...but, yes, good point about not talking down to them...that I will try to keep in mind.....thanks for the suggestions!

paulaayn's picture
Re: Um....A Little Advice??

   No, we don't sue people over silly little things.  The only lawsuit I know of is my sister's, but that's because some yahoo hit them head-on a few years ago.  But nothing mundane like over cookies  :)  Parents bring food to school for the kids all the time, but I guess you'd better skip it.  The other advice you've got has been good too.   Paula                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

paulaayn's picture
Re: Um....A Little Advice??

  Hi Kevin

Your first mistake would be to talk down to them.  Try to remember back to grade six (you're only a year younger than me so it shouldn't be too hard-haha).  It's the start of the tween years when they really start to grow up.  Also, to get their attention, especially on a Friday I'd see if you could bring in some food samples.  That way it get's the kids involved and you're not just talking at them.  Not sure what you would make, but Lovina could help you decide on something typically Amish that would be easy to share.  I would think lots of things to look at would help.  Most kids I've known are very visual, so pictures or actual things would sure help keep their attention.

Just my thoughts.  Paula                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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