Announcing the First-Ever CDL Speech Performance Competition

I. What It Is

The 2012 CDL Citywide Speech Performance Competition is our league’s first tournament in what is known as forensics – individually performed speech events, also called “I.E.” or merely “speech.” Forensic events, like policy debate, are part of competitive speech and debate across the country; the National Forensic League, for example, provides its honor society recognition, and a national championship tournament, to high school students who compete in forensics events.

The 2012 CDL Citywide Speech Performance Competition will be a one-day forensics competition held this spring for about 100 students from 12 CDL schools. It will include two speech events: oratory and extemporaneous speaking (“extemp”). There will be three rounds in each event, in which all speakers compete, followed by a final round for each event, in which the top six speakers compete. Awards will be given to the top 10 speakers in each event (or the top 50%, whichever is fewer) and all speakers participating will receive a certificate.

II. Why We Are Doing It

Competitive academic debate is a tremendously powerful and academically rigorous activity. It develops literacy, research, communications, and critical thinking skills with a forcefulness and effectiveness that very few if any other programs can match in the middle and high school grades.

But the emphasis of competitive policy debate is not in the exercise and refinement of students’ public speaking style and oratorical skills. Our speech performance program is designed to help fill that gap in the CDL’s programming offerings.

We recognize that there are many students who would benefit from developing some of the skills of debate but who are not likely to commit to the academic rigor of debate. With the additional programming option of competitive speech, we hope to broaden our scope and reach more Chicago public school students.

III. Date, Schedule, and Site

The date for the competition is Saturday, May 19th.

The site is George Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd., Chicago, IL 60624.

As the competition schedule indicates, registration and breakfast begin at 8:00am and the Awards Ceremony ends at 3:30pm. All participants, coaches, and judges will need to arrive by 8:15am and will stay through the end of the Awards Ceremony.

IV. Brief Explanation of the Format of the Two Events

Oratory is an event in which the speaker delivers an original, self-written speech, on any topic of special interest, up to eight minutes in length. Usually the speech identifies a problem and a proposed solution, often about a social issue the student finds compelling. Speeches in oratory though can interpret this “structure” loosely – any topic of interest and importance to the speaker can be addressed and developed in the speech. Speakers may use quotations, researched facts and information, and personal stories and experiences – but evidence as it is deployed in policy debate is not required and is not used with nearly that level of frequency. Speakers in oratory write, practice, and refine a single speech in advance of a competition, and use that one speech in all rounds at the competition. Generally the speech is memorized; students who recite speeches from memory almost invariably receive higher ranks, though the speaker can use note cards if needed.

Extemporaneous speaking is an event in which the speaker is given a topic, formulated as a question, 30 minutes before each round. The speaker has this “prep time” to prepare the outline of a speech (of up to 6 minutes) in which she answers the question. It is customary for the speaker to use the outline while she is delivering her extemporaneous speech. Here is a sample of “extemp questions” currently recommended by the National Forensic League for extemp competitions being held around the country in February:

1. Will Republicans rally around Romney once he has the nomination secured?
2. Why has the GOP nomination race fluctuated so dramatically the past few months?
3. How much of a priority should federal deficit reduction be in 2012?
4. Was President Obama justified in rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline?
5. Will home prices stabilize in 2012?
6. What steps, if any, should Congress take to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US?

Extemp questions are typically divided into U.S. and international topics, but we will only be using U.S. topics. We will post the three topics (but not the questions) about 3 – 4 weeks prior to the competition (toward the end of April), so that extemp speakers can read and research the topics and gather a file of basic articles on the topics, for possible use during the “prep time” before a round. Extemporaneous speaking uses textual evidence a little more than does oratory, typically, and the use of evidence appears on the judging rubric in extemp.

V. How Speech Rounds Are Judged

In each speech round, six speakers are assigned to a room, until all speakers have been assigned. One judge is also assigned to each room. (All judges will have taken part in a judge training workshop.) Each judge will have a ballot for each speaker and a judging rubric, which will suggest to the judge what to look for and how to evaluate the speeches. After each speech the judge will make written notes on the speaker’s ballot, providing feedback to the speaker, but not evaluating the speaker with points or a number. Ironically (perhaps), there are no “speaker points” in forensics activities. Instead, after each of the six speakers has given his or her speech, the judge uses a separate ballot to rank the speakers 1 through 6.

At the end of three rounds, the top six speakers in each event (oratory or extemp) will advance to the Final Round in that event. If at the end of the first three rounds there is a tie for sixth place, all the speakers tied for sixth place advance to the Final Round. The top speakers are those with the lowest ranks (a rank total of 3 would be the best possible score, indicating that the speaker received the first-place rank in each of his or her three rounds). The Final Round will be judged by a panel of three or five judges. The six speakers will be placed in final order by their total number of ranks among the three or five ballots (where a rank total of 3 or 5, depending on the number of judges, would be the best possible score).

Each of the twelve participating schools will be required to bring one judge for every six speakers registered, rounding up. So, if a school registers nine speakers it is required to bring two judges.

VI. Rules of Registration

Each of the twelve participating schools must register and have compete eight or more speakers. Registration will be due by April 30. At least two speakers must be registered from each school in each event (e.g., Brooks, if it chose to participate, could register seven speakers in oratory, but would also have to register at least two speakers in extemp). Some speech tournaments (in the Chicago suburbs, for example) allow students to “double-enter,” meaning they enter in two events. But given our schedule for the 2012 CDL Citywide Speech Performance Competition, we will not allow double-entry.

Perhaps the most important registration rule is this: no more than half of any school’s registration can be made up of CDL debaters. In other words, at least half of any school’s speakers must be students who have not debated at any 2011/12 CDL debate tournaments. This rule is in effect in order to ensure that CDL forensics does indeed function to reach a substantial group of new students, not currently involved in CDL debate programming.

VII. Resources and Trainings

The CDL will send teaching and coaching resources on the two events (oratory and extemp) to coaches at the twelve participating schools. Coaches will also be encouraged to explore resources on their own, including those to be found at these sites:

National Forensics League

Forensics on Line

Speech Geek

We will conduct one training workshop on Saturday, April 14th, 9am – 11am at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, 25 E. Pearson St. In one section, the students will be trained on the event formats, competition structure and recommended evaluation criteria (i.e. the judging rubrics). They will also see and hear examples of speeches. In the other section, all coaches and judges will be trained on the round structure, ballot, and judging rubrics, and will also experience speech examples. This one training is required for all coaches and highly recommended for all speakers and non-coach additional judges.

The CDC will also visit participating schools in May, and work with coaches on their students’ original speeches (for oratory) and preparation materials and practice outlines (for extemp).

VIII. Practice Recommendation

We recommend that coaches practice with their forensics team at least an hour per week, after the Chicago Debate Championship (so for about seven weeks).

IX. School Selection Process

In order to be selected as one of the twelve schools to participate in the 2012 CDL Citywide Speech Performance Competition a coach must declare the school’s interest by contacting the CDC by Friday, February 24th. Send an email or call Les – leslynn@resources.chicagodebates.org or 312-427-0524, ext.4102.

After that, the coach will need to submit a roster of at least 8 students who have expressed interest in forensics, with at least half of the list being non-debaters, along with a statement (no more than one page) describing how a speech division would fit into the coach’s educational vision for his or her debate (and speech) program. That should be sent to Les no later than March 2nd. The participating schools will be announced March 7th.

Each selected school will receive a coach incentive of $275, provided by the CDC, thanks to the generosity of Allstate. Payment of this incentive will be made by CDC check on the day of the competition, May 19th.

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