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Board Meetings

April 21, 2009


Participation in a community public speaking contests by a school’s intermediate and/or junior division has been a common tradition in many Bluewater schools.  Over the past ten to fifteen years the nature of public speaking competitions has transitioned.  For example, the introduction of storytelling as ‘public speaking’ has opened the doors for many more students to be successful as oral communicators in a formal setting.  Some schools have chosen to have participation in public speaking competitions be voluntary for classes and/or individual students.  A wide variety of options occur in Bluewater schools as outlined below.   

Participation in formal public speaking competitions requires a great deal of time in addition to the preparation and presentation of a speech by an individual student within the classroom setting.  This extension of instructional time does not necessarily directly tie to the curriculum expectations for oral communication.  There are various ways for students to communicate their learning throughout the curriculum.  The Ontario Language Curriculum: 1-8 outlines several examples for this to occur that directly link to the specific expectations of the oral communication strand of the curriculum and are appropriate for all students.  These include, but are not limited to:  brainstorming to identify what they know about the topic of a new text they are about to read, discussing strategies for solving a problem in a writing assignment, presenting and defending ideas or debating issues, and offering critiques of work produced by their peers.

Bluewater elementary schools participate in public speaking competitions, sponsored by community groups in the following ways:

A)      Self-selected participation  (1 school)
        - open to students if they choose so
        - students may present to the whole class or just to a teacher

B)      Individual class participation (2 schools)
        - formal presentations by all students within the classroom
        - formal speeches and/or multi-media presentations and/or story telling within the
        - the topics for presentation in one class was based on the health curriculum – sneezing, hiccups, digestive system)
        - persuasive writing was the focus of one intermediate class

C)      Club (4 schools)
        - those interested went during nutrition break;
        - presentations occurred during that time;
        - went on to Legion and/or Agricultural Competitions if they wished
        - voluntary

D)       Science Fair one year, Speeches the next year  (1 school)
        - intermediate division only    
        - students may participate in the other event if they wish
        - Ideas Fair – Science Fair and Historica (ideas surrounding their experiment)

E)      Traditional Junior and/or Intermediate School-wide speaking competitions (26 schools)
                - context based on classroom; judged    
- winners from classroom speak in the school competition
                - winners from that level invited to speak in an area Legion or Agricultural Society competition

F)      Non Participation; Oral communication expectations are the curriculum focus (12 schools)        
- project presentation integral part of the curriculum within the specific classroom    
- assessment rubrics reflect expectations for oral communication as outlined in the curriculum

G)      French Public Speaking
On March 25th, 2009 40 students from twelve elementary and two secondary schools participated in the French Public Speaking Contest.

All schools surveyed said that they:

Differentiate the ways in which students can demonstrate their learning and meet the requirements of oral communication curriculum expectations
Public speaking is a valued way for students to demonstrate their oral communication skills.  There are many ways to do this aside from the traditional approach of a competition.
Provide opportunities for those who flourish in public speaking to speak to larger audiences outside the classroom.

Many Bluewater elementary schools participate in Legion sponsored poster, poetry, essay contests and have the Legion assist in Remembrance Day services.  The chart below provides a snap shot of this type of partnership.  Many schools noted their participation with other public speaking and contests sponsored by community groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimist and Federation of Agriculture.

Remembrance Day
Poetry/Essay Contests
Poster Contests

Pat Cavan, Principal of Peninsula Shores District School, joins us today to speak about curriculum expectations related to oral communication and the link to public speaking.

Submitted to:
Bluewater District School Board
April 21, 2009          
For further information please contact
Marnie Coke, Superintendent of Elementary Education


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