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March 5: Speech and Debate Tournament for Middle School Students

The Penn State Behrend Communication Department will be hosting its second annual speech and debate tournament for your middle school students on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.  The goal of the tournament is to give your students an opportunity to develop confidence in their communication skills by speaking in front of a small audience and by interacting with other middle school students in the area.

Registration will begin at 3:15 pm, and the tournament will run from 3:45 pm to 6:15 pm.  We are planning to have two rounds of competition for the students with a brief awards ceremony (6:00-6:15) following the second round of competition. The college will provide a “pizza party” for coaches, judges, and students.  There will not be a fee for this tournament.

Students will have a choice of the following four speaking events: original oratory, oral interpretation of literature, duo interpretation, or impromptu debate.  Click on the “Description of Events” tab to read a detailed description of each event.

Registration, photo release, and medical release forms are also provided for your convenience.  The registration form must be returned by fax or mail to the address of the bottom of the form by 5:00 pm on Friday, February 21.  All other completed forms must be returned by 5:00 pm on Friday, February 28.

We hope to see you and your students in March!

Description of Events

Registration Form

Photo Release Form

Medical Treatment Authorization Form


Description of Events

Original Oratory:

The student should prepare an original oration on a chosen topic. The topic should be appropriate for the student and the audience. The general purpose of the speech should be to inform, persuade, or entertain. The presentation should be 5-7 minutes in length and should be delivered extemporaneously (with notes—not a manuscript).

The student should begin with an introduction that gains the attention of the audience and introduces the thesis or central idea. The body of the speech should include carefully selected main ideas that are thoughtfully developed with good supporting evidence. When supporting material is provided, the source must be identified. Language usage should be appropriate for a speech (not too informal or too elevated). Visual aids are not permitted.

The student should be poised, expressive, and sincere. Pitch, rate, and volume should be appropriate. The student should maintain eye contact with the audience. Movements and gestures should appear natural. The student’s delivery should support ideas rather than call attention to technique.

 

Oral Interpretation of Literature:

The student should present a reading from a published source. The art of interpretation includes the recreating of characters in the reading and making them seem real to the audience.  The presentation should be 5-7 minutes in length and may be delivered with a manuscript.  Costumes and props are not permitted.

The selection for interpretation must be from published literary work: a novel, a short story, a play, or one or more poems.   Monologues are acceptable.  More than one form of literature may be used (e.g. the reading may begin with a poem then transition to a short story or another poem).  The selection should be appropriate for the student and the audience. During the presentation, the student must identify the author and source from which the cutting was taken.  Judges will critique the literary merit of the selection.

Vocal variety (pitch, rate, and volume) should be consistent with the selection.  Diction and pronunciation must be acceptable.  Movements and gestures should be natural and should support the mood of the selection.  If the cutting includes dialogue, the dialogue should demonstrate the student’s ability to interpret characters correctly. Narrative, if included, should be expressive and more than just “filler” between portions of dialogue.

 

Duo Interpretation:

This is a two-person category in which the selection may be either humorous or dramatic in nature.  Movement should be limited and suggested rather than exaggerated.  The actors must interact and respond believably with one another but should not come in physical contact with each other.   The students may look at each other during the introduction; however, students should not make eye contact during the selection itself.  Each student may present multiple characters.

The selection for interpretation must be from a single published literary work: a novel, a short story, a play, or one or more poems.  In Duo Interpretation each of the two performers may play one or more characters—the performance responsibility for both performers should be as balanced as possible.  If the selection is prose or poetry and contains narration, either or both of the performers may present the narration.

All other rules are the same as Oral Interpretation of Literature (as described on previous page).

 

Impromptu Debate:

Two competitors will be given a list of 3 topics that are easy to debate (e.g. Cellphones should be allowed in schools).  After a coin toss, the winning student either selects the topic to debate or the side to debate (for/affirmative or against/negative).  Depending on the choice by the winner of the coin toss, the opponent will select either the topic or side to debate.

Both debaters will receive five minutes to prepare arguments in favor or against the resolution.  Students will receive a notecard to organize their ideas.  Then there will be a short debate:  affirmative opening speech (60-90 seconds), cross-examination/questions by opposing debater (60 seconds), negative opening speech (60-90 seconds), cross-examination/questions by opposing debater (60 seconds), affirmative closing speech (30-45 seconds), and negative closing speech (30-45 seconds). To keep the round moving quickly, two debaters can be preparing while another two are debating.

The student should begin the opening speech with an introduction that gains the attention of the audience and introduces the arguments in favor or against the resolution.  The body of the speech should include arguments that are thoughtfully developed with appropriate supporting material (stories, facts, examples, analogies). Language usage should be appropriate for a speech (not too informal or too elevated).  The speaker should end decisively.

The student should be poised, expressive, and sincere.  Pitch, rate, and volume should be appropriate.  The student should maintain eye contact with the audience.  Movements and gestures should appear natural.  The student’s delivery should support ideas rather than call attention to technique.

 

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