Questions for the short winter days

This will be my first true winter break since I left the glorious surroundings of upstate NY for the doldrums of the rotten cadaver known as the Steel City. I plan to do a lot over the month break, and I thought of a list of questions to ask about how to re-do my syllabus for public speaking. What worked in Pittsburgh has no traction here - well, I shouldn't say "no" but definitely not "enough" traction.

As with any course design, I'm most interested about ending up asking the best questions along with the class and leaving after that. Sometimes the best questions are the right questions and sometimes they aren't. I try to write starting questions out and arrange the course activities around those questions in order to spark some further questions.

So one of the key places to start for me comes from the oh so awesome book Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Postman and Weingartner. In it they suggest asking these three questions as the starting point of being a subversive teacher:
1. What am I going to have my students do today?
2. What's it good for?
3. How do I know?

Those three questions sum up all 15 hours of educational theory I had to take from vapid mindless smiling geriatrics who make up the "Education" department at A&M. They cover goal setting and accountability in a very direct way. They make you realize the purpose of giving a quiz or a test (and it's not because you know they don't read and you are going to teach them a lesson, etc).

So I've been reading Consigny's book on Gorgias and it's fantastic. I'm fascinated by this idea of Anti-Foundationalism, and I wonder if it can be a good overarching idea from which to teach public speaking.

Here are my starting questions for this approach:
1. What is a situation?

2. How do we know what a good speech is?

3. How do we know what a well-researched speech is?

4. How do we know what an auidence is?

Activities (lined up with the questions):
1. Examination and independent trips to various venues to see if there is "public speaking" going on. Comparison to TV news programs, etc.

2. Grading Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" with Lucas's persuasive rubric.

3. Something to examine about the changing nature or role of the library and/or Google (?)

4. Secondlife and YouTube speech assignments