Menlo News November 09, 2022

Sixth Graders Give TED-Talk Inspired Presentations

Students present on topics ranging from the History of Clocks to Climate Change as part of the Human Skills Curriculum

The Middle School Human Skills curriculum is designed, in part, to create a strong sense of community among students in grades six through eight while developing their personal, social, and emotional skills. In sixth grade, one area of the curriculum’s focus is helping students hone their active listening and communications skills. Both were on display at the Middle School TED-talk inspired showcase that featured more than 60 students speaking to their peers on topics ranging from fear of the dark, In N Out Burgers, and “Why Fashion Is Overrated.”

“While the presentations themselves are an opportunity to practice the skills they have learned in the classroom,” said Middle School Counselor and Human Skills Teacher Kaila Uniacke “The intention for these presentations was to especially highlight the sense of belonging they have fostered during Human Skills.”

“I always like to think that genuine belonging is not simply feeling comfortable around our peers, but feeling comfortable enough to be brave and try new things around our peers,” she added. “Like getting up on stage, knowing they may have stage fright, knowing they may forget their lines, but feeling empowered enough to try anyway because they know they have support from their fellow students.”

With encouragement from classmates, including laughter and applause, the student presenters courageously took to the stage to talk about things they are passionate about. One student even presented on her own stage fright, exploring the topic itself while conquering it at the same time. Some students even integrated a peer’s insight on a similar topic from an earlier presentation (tennis, for example, was a popular topic) showing their ability to listen, include others, and adapt their own presentations on-the-spot.

“In choosing their topics,” Kaila added. “I told them it can be anything! It can be silly, educational, or comical, as long as it was something that they felt they could passionately and proudly talk about. Doing so allowed their most authentic selves to take the stage and share their values, hobbies, and interests. And with their presentations, they saw that together, they can do brave things. And they can continue to do new and brave things even if they don’t go right the first time.”