Environmental Health Impromptu Talk

Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman
Editor: Stephanie Nardei

Time: 5 classes/1 week
30 minutes to read lesson plan and to reserve time in the computer lab
Materials: Use of computer lab


Students will learn the criteria for and create the framework of an impromptu speech about an environmental health issue that is especially important to them.

Purpose – This is the apply lesson.  Students will write a speech about an environmental health problem based on the material learned in this quarter’s science and social studies classes and the research conducted in the last language arts class.

Students will be able to:

  1. Create the outline for a speech that can be delivered in an impromptu manner on an environmental health issue that is of importance to the student;
  2. Identify how different audiences would have different emotional ties to the same issue;
  3. Incorporate facts, figures, and information gathered in the previous lesson into appropriate areas of a speech.

National Language Arts Education Standards
Standard #4

            Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences for a variety of purposes.

Standard #7 

            Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems.  They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Standard #8
            Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, videos) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Arizona State Standards:
LS-P2.  Deliver an impromptu speech that is organized, addresses a particular subject, and is tailored to the audience.

Teacher Background
It is important to know what has been studied in the science and social studies classes for this unit.

Resource Websites
Environmental Health Resources
PULSE Resource Index Page: http://pulse.pharmacy.arizona.edu/resources/index.html

Speech Making Resources
Principles of writing a great persuasive speech: http://timpview.provo.edu/~jeanar/rock_files/persuasive%20begin.htm
English Language Institute on Persuasive Speeches: http://learningresources.eli.ubc.ca/speakingandlistening/500sl/persuasion.html


1. As the students put together the framework of a speech that they can deliver in a spontaneous manner there are skills that you should review (or may to teach) with the students in the areas of how to reach your target audience and the various types of appeals one can make to that audience.  Please consult Target Audience and The Three Appeals.  You may need to incorporate some on the activities from these two lessons in this week’s work depending on the knowledge base of your students and how much practice they have had in making speeches.

Once you have established how important it is to know your audience, determine which type of appeal would be best to reach the target audience.  In this case, the students are being asked to rely heavily on emotional appeals for their speeches to reach the heart of their audience.  The students want their audience to care about the environmental health issue of the speech beyond the intellectual understanding of the problem and the moral incentive to do something about it.  Both of these aspects are important, but will play a lesser part in the students approach to delivering the speech.

3. So the first three questions students need to answer are:

    1. What is the environmental health problem?
    2. Who is the target audience?
    3. What emotional bridge(s) can be used to reach this audience?

4. In answering the third question of “What emotional bridges can be used?” ask the students to make a list of cultural concerns that would tie into the EH problem.

  • Are there any connections to food or traditions or community activities for the special group of people who will be addressed?  Perhaps a certain ingredient in their cuisine or a certain manner of food preparation is making this group especially vulnerable to the EH problem.  For example, if a food such as rice needs to be soaked in water and that water is contaminated then the people eating the rice would receive a higher dose of the toxin found in the water. 
  • Are there any descriptions of personal experiences that the student found in their research that could humanize the EH situation? 
  • Is there one subset of the population much more vulnerable to this EH problem such as children, the elderly, pregnant women, or people who spend a lot of time outdoors?  On an emotional level we may feel a need to take care of this smaller group and be willing to make changes for the entire population just to protect them, for example to protect children.

5. After the student has his or her facts from the last lesson and has established the emotional bridges that might be most compelling to the target audience it is time to create a basic framework for the speech.  The student needs:

    1. An introduction in which the problem is presented with some type of emotional hook that is so strong for the target audience they will want to hear the speech
    2. A body in which the majority of the facts and information about the EH problem are presented in a context of emotional appeals with ways to alleviate or lessen the problem.  This section should both inform and empower the audience.
    3. A conclusion that repeats the reason(s) why the audience should want to care about this EH problem and reiterate the possible solution(s).

This would be a good time to share with the students the criteria on which their speeches will be evaluated.  A criteria checklist follows this lesson.
6. After you have decided how much time will be allotted to the speeches in the major project you will need to set a time minimum and maximum for the individual speeches based on the amount of time you have to present.  Leave at least one day in the lesson for the students to practice giving their speeches in a small group setting and evaluating each other.

The purpose of this speech is to both inform the audience and to call them to action.  It is to make them care about the EH problem and to see they can do something about it.  Remind the students scaring people about a problem will often result in hopelessness and inaction.  Students need to be serious about the problem and respectful of their audience so that they do not fall into sensationalism and exploitation of either the problem or the audience.

If a student has not finished preparing the speech in the time given some work will need to be done for homework to finish up.

Embedded Assessment
Student learning may be assessed by how on-task each student is in preparing the speech, how seriously he or she is in practicing and evaluating others’ speeches, and the criteria found in the speech evaluation form at the end of this lesson.



PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

1996-2007, The University of Arizona
Last update: March 7, 2007
  Page Content: Rachel Hughes
Web Master: Travis Biazo