Dec 07

Two Weeks On Before Two Weeks Off

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

There are only two weeks left before school closes in preparation for the holiday season - a time for family and friends to reflect on the past year, celebrate the present, and prepare for the future.The next two weeks are sure to be busy both in anticipation of the time off and in preparation for the next nine weeks.One Semester: STEM Night and Social Media​​In preparation for STEM Night, students have prepared speeches in which they explain the the benefits, impact, and dangers of social media.Students have also begun episode five of Black.…
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Nov 30

Staying Alert Through the Holiday Cheer

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

Classes are now poised between the most exciting and the most difficult time of the year - they are poised between vacations.This is by far the favorite time of the year for most students. The anticipation of the upcoming New Year (and an upcoming respite from school) is palpable.More often than not, I see too many students lose sight of their academic aspirations in the anticipation of the holiday cheer.…
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Nov 16

[A/B] The Human Condition (Part II)

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

This week your children finished working on his/her dramatic/duo interpretation.These speeches are interpretive pieces of movies, literature, or poetry. Through these pieces, each child will communicate some aspect of the human condition, and in order to do this, every student will have to use his/her vocal variety and nonverbal communication to ensure the audience both understands and experiences the piece.​As we begin the speeches, children will now be introduced to the group dynamics of speech and debate.…
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Nov 16

[P.1] TEDx (Part II)

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

Students have continued to prepare their TEDx Talks, and last week was the beginning of presentations. So far, a handful of students have shared their speeches, which have covered a variety of topics from bullying to finding your identity.The class also continues to discuss Black. White. The importance of this film cannot be overstated in the wake of the current racial tensions occurring in Ferguson, Missouri.As we continue our discussion on the film, students will now begin to prepare for the debate portion of the class, and as they become more attune to each other in group discussions, they will have more effective debates against one another in the class.…
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Nov 08

[A/B] The Human Condition: Interpreting with Everything

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

The telling of a good story takes more than astounding, descriptive details - it requires the speaker to "throw" his/her entire being into the story - heart, soul, voice, purposeful movement, essential eye contact, etcetera. Your children have are practicing and preparing in order to do just this: throw their whole being into an interpretive speech.Last week most students completed their first original oratory, and in an effort to further improve stage presence, your children have selected a fictive work - literature, poetry, or film - in order to recreate the piece through their own interpretive lens and abilities.It is worth sharing the dramatic/duo pieces that have been used in preparation for this task:​ The Help The Wizard of Hip Part I / The Wizard of Hip Part IIAn Original Masterpiece As the above examples demonstrate, these speeches provide more than merely opportunities to improve in stage presence - these speeches allow us to improve as people who tap into a deeper part of humanity in order to tell it and show it to others.…
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Nov 08

[P.1] TEDx: Real World Context

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

This week has been the ultimate "real world application" of all that your children have learned over the past eleven weeks.This is because each student is preparing a TEDx Talk for a contest sponsored by Simon Sinek. This especially significant because students were challenged to consider their purpose - their "Why" - the first week of school via Sinek's TED Talk.…
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Nov 02

[P.1 & A/B] Moving Toward the Holiday Season

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

The second nine weeks of school are always the most enjoyable - at least to me. This is because we move into a holiday season of family and tradition; as we take the time to remember and value one another, the academic calendar becomes spread out with much needed rest and reprieve. This is a wonderful time for learning, but it can also be an extremely detrimental time.…
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Oct 26

[A/B] The End of the First Quarter (Moving Toward the Second Half)

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

Your children - my students - have spent approximately twenty-two days in Speech and Debate, they have completed a minimum of three speeches, and are currently in the process of finishing their fourth. As we move into the second quarter, the question begs to be asked, "What is next?"The answer to that question is predicated on a simple objective: make students more than just great public speakers - make them great leaders in all venues of their daily lives.​In order to achieve this objective, their will be three primary goals that I will pursue throughout the school year:Improve students' capacity to engage in group discussions (and not just participate)Teach students how to persuade with words (and not fight with words)Train students to develop a business, product, and service that they will then market (and not just keep good ideas to themselves)​These three goals are extremely simple but the execution will be complex.…
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Oct 26

[P.1] The Second Half and a Nine Week Vision

By Patrick C. Ames | Classroom Updates

Your children - my students - have made tremendous growth in their public speaking skills during this nine weeks. The question therefore "begs to be asked": what is next?I want to answer that question by stating a primary concern: students need communication skills.​ The ability to communicate is not limited to speaking before an audience or debating a person on the moral attributes of a policy, practice, or position.Speech and debate our skills that must transcend the classroom and the halls of academia.…
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