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Studies show that students who take just one year of speech and debate coursework improve their test scores in classes and on standardized tests. Students increase critical reading test scores by 44%. Students increase reading comprehension test scores by 25%.
Speech and debate teaches you skills that can help raise a student's grades in all classes:
Students memorize and act a 10-minute excerpt or cutting of a play, book, or other work of literature. Selections can be dramatic or humorous, students can act alone or with a partner. (Humorous Interp, Dramatic Interp, and Duo Interp) No props or costumes are allowed. One student can act the part of one character, or portray multiple characters using different voices, postures, and gestures for each different character in the storyline.
Students write bills of legislation that pertain to economics or domestic or foreign affairs well before a tournament. At the tournament, as the student group debates the merits of a bill and refines it, that bill may or may not be passed by the body. Students use parliamentary procedure. Students can participate in the Senate or in the House.
Students write a creative 10-minute, logical, evidence-supported speech to memorize and present for a small audience. The speech can deal with a societal problem or issue and an exploration of possible solutions, or it can be a call to action for a particular cause. It can also call attention to the life of a person in history. Speeches can be serious or humorous.
Students have 7 minutes total, to prepare a brief speech and deliver it. Topics are random and varied. Speeches can draw from real information or personal opinions and experiences. This event is offered at only a few tournaments we will attend, and should not be a student's primary focus for the year.
Students work individually. Debates are one student against another. The students use random everyday debate topics that they receive just minutes before the debate is held. Students are assigned the pro side or con side. They have a few minutes to gather their thoughts and prepare their arguments. Then they present their own arguments, attack their opponent's arguments, and summarize to the judge why their side should win. This event is offered at only a few tournaments we will attend, and should not be a student's primary focus for the year.
Students have 20 minutes of prep time to familiarize themselves with a packet of news and information that they receive at the tournament before each round. Working in pairs, they deliver a 5 minute radio show before a judge, infusing the news and articles they received with personality and transitions. Themes range from sports or weather to comprehensive morning shows. This event is offered at only a few tournaments we attend, and should not be a student's primary focus for the year.
Students are confronted with a wide variety of world political problems, in a hypothetical or fictional scenario. Each student has to propose action plans related to how to solve these problems. Students also compare and contrast various plans proposed by others, speaking for or against particular plans or parts of plans. This is run in the style of congressional debate. Many top national tournaments use Scenario Debate as their final round for Congressional Debate, giving a creative challenge to the best congressional debaters in the nation.
Students create two pieces: One is a blend of excerpts of various poems, and the other is a blend of excerpts of prose. Each piece is 10 minutes long, and deals with some issue of societal importance. Students perform/deliver these 10-minute speeches in front of judges, focusing on clarity of communication, expression of meaning, and effective presentation.