After two weeks of wresting, my students have selected their historic speeches. They will research them this quarter and them work on them as orators in the next. On the way to their selection, something interesting happened. My rule was that no speech could be repeated each hour, which left the possibility that some of the speeches would be delivered three times; one for each hour. This year, no student is preparing the same speech.
None. Nada. Zip.
One of the things I've learned through the Ford's process is how long real professional development can take. During the first year of the program, I was just holding on for dear life. I am proud of the work we did that year, but most of its success was the Teaching Artist, Jojo. Last year was more of a partnership with our new Teaching Artist, Victoria. I took more leadership and we added sonnets. This year, this semester, I have taken more of the helm and Victoria is more a champion for me as a teacher of oratory than a teacher of oratory of herself. Her real work will be in the second semester as we partner together as coaches for our young charges. After two years of doing this, one thing which I thought I needed to change was how much time students had picking speeches, as well as trying to match the DNA of the speaker to the DNA of the speech. I have to admit to being a little surprised to how smoothly that went. These speeches ar both good fits for the individual kid as well as ones they are genuinely excited to work on.
Another surprise has been my exploration of slam poetry. I'm fifty and an old dog in so many ways, but spoken word performance has me smitten. The clips above and below are some of what I've found. I am looking forward to pairing spoken word with sonnets next semester. Could be either a big hot mess or brilliant.
Either way, we'll learn something. That's the point, isn't it?
BTW-I have been triple double dog dared to write my Ford's speech as a spoken word poem. I'm not sure if I can do it, but I keep you posted.
What speeches did my charges select, you ask? If you have a chance, google a few of the ones you don't recognize. I am so excited to see where my kids take these.
RFK, “On the Assassination of MLK, Jr.”
Daniel Webster, “Bunker Hill Oration”
Emma Watson, “Gender Equality is Your Issue, Too”
Michael Jordon, “Hall of Fame Enshrinement” Speech
Hillary Clinton, “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”
FDR, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”
Patrick Henry, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”
Michelle Kwan, “Worldly Wisdom to Grads” Speech
Malala Yousafzai, “Address to the UN”
Lou Gehrig, ”Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth”
Neil Gaiman, “Commencement Speech to University of the Arts Philadelphia”
Savannah Brown, “What a Guy Looks for in Girls—A Response”
JFK, “Ask What you Can Do For Your Country”
Hellen Keller, “Strike Against War”
Ronald Reagan, “First Inaugural”
Ronald Reagan, “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall”
Cal Ripken Jr., “Farewell to Baseball”
Lily Myers, “If I Should Have a Daughter”
MLK, Jr., “There Comes a Time When People Get Tired”
Severn Suzuki, “1992 UN Earth Summit Speech”
Ron Paul, “Farewell to Congress” Speech
Charles B. Morgan Jr., “Four Little Girls Were Killed”
Sarah Kay, “Tshotsholoza”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “The Solitude of Self”
Harvey Milk, “You’ve Gotta Have Hope”
JFK, “Let Them Come to Berlin”
Lily Myer, “Shrinking Woman”
Aung San Suu Kyi, “Freedom From Fear”
Fredrick Douglass, “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July”
Lucy Stone, “A Disappointed Woman”
Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?”
Abraham Lincoln, "Second Inaugural"