Speech and Debate Course Introduced in Upper School

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Speech and Debate Course Introduced in Upper School

What happens when you put a musician, a writer, and a computer geek together?  They develop a new course of study for their students!

Thanks to the widespread use of computers and cell phones, today’s students have access to easy communication and readily available information.  Messages are shortened, conversations condensed, and research questions are answered with just a few keystrokes. Communication may be easy, but educators at Hilltop Country Day School in Sparta wanted to invest in helping students be more effective and efficient communicators as they prepare for the demands of higher education.

This year, Hilltop is offering a course in public speaking and debate aimed at refining the skills needed for sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students to develop, support, and present ideas in a variety of situations from extemporaneous speeches to product pitches, interviews, humorous dialogues, and formal debates.  Taught jointly by Hilltop’s music, technology, and English teachers, this course gives students exposure, lessons, and practice in all areas of public speaking with the advice of teachers with expertise in the performing arts, formal writing instruction, and computer expertise. This approach provides coaching in all areas of effective communication.

Armed with lists of ‘either/or’ topics, students in one class debate vigorously about the merits of sports and video games.  Another class has students designing a sticker to tag and locate one’s phones and presenting their ideas to potential investors.  A list of famous quotes inspires motivational speeches, and excerpts from young adult novels become the scripts for humorous monologues and dialogues. Mock interviews, commercials, formal debates, and poetry recitations are all valuable experiences that are explored in this new course. After each experience, students also practice the delicate art of peer review to support each other in their learning.  Videos and professional samples are invaluable as models, as well.

The byproducts of all of this practice go far beyond just communication.  Students are learning analytical thinking, research skills, organization, persuasion, poise, and elocution, as well as collaboration and teamwork. 

Hilltop knows the importance of effective and confident public speaking for all of our students, and our staff is excited to offer this new course by a team of teachers dedicated to promoting the arts of debate and communication skills.  

Be on the look-out for Hilltop’s first Speech and Debate Team!