Public Speaking and Drama at the upper school
This year at the upper school, many students are taking the new elective: Public Speaking/Drama. The first half of the year focuses on public speaking skills and strategies. Students are currently exploring the different types of public speaking forums, from class presentations to interview skills, and everything in between. Through learning a wide variety of skills and strategies, students aim to improve their verbal and nonverbal skills to aid in speaking aloud in front of various audiences.
Some of the topics covered in this interactive course are volume, rate, emphasis, articulation, tone, organization, word choice, body positioning and movement, eye contact, poise, and speech anxiety. On a daily basis, students practice organizing, writing, and performing speeches, while in a safe and positive speaking environment that is supportive for all.
In addition to practicing their own speaking, students are encouraged to think critically about what makes a good speaker, and provide thoughtful and constructive feedback to others. As a result, students are working not only on speech and language skills, but also perspective taking, theory of mind, critical thinking and problem solving skills.
Each day in this class, students and speaking prompts are selected at random to practice and gain comfort in more spontaneous speaking situations. Simultaneously, students are consistently working on more practiced speeches that pinpoint one or more verbal communication strategies. In the spirit of October, students just finished presenting spooky stories in a campfire style setting. This project in particular focused on the use of volume, emphasis, and tone, as students learned to vary these elements in order to present the most effective story possible.
The Spring semester will focus on the various elements of drama. Students will learn about the different drama genres, the history of theater, terminology of drama, and various acting and directing skills. In addition, students will call on the strategies learned in Public Speaking to perform a wide variety of theatrical pieces throughout the semester.
Facilitated by a Speech Language Pathologist, the new Public Speaking/Drama elective teaches these skills and strategies through an individualized, speech and language lens. Each student’s unique strengths and weaknesses as a speaker and performer are taken into account. These important life skills aim to build comfort and confidence in all of our students’ abilities as an oral speaker.