Mr. Book’s SKETCH Talks

by: Matt Schmucker

Mr book

Social Studies Teacher Steven Book

Students in social studies teacher Steven Book’s classes during the week of Jan. 13 could give a talk on any topic they chose. For 4 days, students got to listen to their classmates talk about any topic they were passionate about.

Book calls them SKETCH Talks, modeled after TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks.

“As I watched more and more of these stories develop through TED Talks I realized that there are 170 brilliant, unique, and creative minds that I watch develop every single day!” Book said. “How many of my students have concepts that could transform our community? I wanted to bring these ideas to life and let my students share their ideas with whoever will listen.”

Students have given passionate SKETCH Talks with topics ranging from bullying, to self-image, to obesity, to hip-hop dancing.

Book has seen many notable SKETCH talks, but one of the most notable was the talk given by junior Kelsey Reynolds about self-image and society’s perception of it.

“[Kelsey’s] passion, preparation, and storytelling abilities gave way to an unbelievable talk,” Book said. “She held her audience for a solid nine minutes, we were waiting on baited breath to everything that she had to say. It was truly magical to see.”

Book had one more reason for assigning SKETCH Talks as well. He feels that public speaking is a very undervalued skill.

“Most students see it as pointless, nerve-racking and humiliating,” Book said. “However, as soon as students leave these hallways they are going to realize just how valuable the ability to get in front of a group and coherently speak is going to be. Adults immediately give young people more respect when we can maintain eye contact with them, hold engaging conversations and present new ideas to them.”

Despite students referring to the SKETCH Talk as a speech, Book begs to differ.

“These are called ‘talks’ for a reason,” Book said. “Our SKETCH Talks were to be creative conversations between the presenter and the audience. My hope is that through these conversations, audiences, whether in person or online, will want to change something about their lives, research more about a topic or have the itch to reach out to the author and maybe further develop the idea that was planted into their mind by the SKETCH Talk. That is not a speech.”

There are some TED Talks that Book feels are great for high school students to watch. Some that he named were Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about schools killing creativity, Jamie Oliver talking about the American food diet, and some of Sarah Kay’s and Shane Koyczan’s TED Talks.

Click here to visit Mr. Book’s website including some of these TED Talks on it.


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