Speaking to the Occasion

Speaking to the Occasion

CRA Description : 
After viewing, listening to, and studying commencement speeches by notable figures, students will write and present their own graduation speeches. Speaking effectively in formal and informal settings is a critical skill for the 21st century, one that will benefit students in diverse situations such as interviews, college classrooms, and the workplace. The entire class will first listen to at least two commencement speeches to extrapolate thematic, structural, and stylistic features and will discuss how these elements function in their speech situations. Before composing their own speeches, students will work independently to locate and analyze a commencement speech, doing the research necessary to understand the interrelationship of message, speaker, audience, and occasion. Students will continue to work independently as they identify stylistic patterns and other rhetorical devices employed in the speech and then consider how these and other resources of language might be used in their own speeches.
Subjects: 
English Language Arts
Key Concepts and Terms: 
Alliteration
Anaphora
Anecdote
Audience
Body Language
Cliche
Enunciation
Eye Contact
Gesture
Hook
Opening
Pacing
Platitude
Posture
Topic Focus
Transition
Voice
Prior Knowledge: 
Students need to have prior knowledge in writing, reading, communication and presentation skills. Students should be familiar with characteristics of effective speeches (e.g., opening hooks, memorable conclusions, transitions to link topics, humorous or inspirational anecdotes) and characteristics of ineffective speeches (e.g., use of tired clichés and platitudes; generalities with no specifics). Students should be familiar with characteristics of effective and ineffective speakers (e.g., posture, eye contact, voice, enunciation, pacing, body language). Students should have a complex sense of audience. Students should have prior understanding of and practice in all parts of the writing process, including invention, drafting, revision, and proofreading. Students should be comfortable using word processing software. Students should have good search strategies for internet research.