Our first time, in a Forensics Tournament

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Our school the 21st State Primary School of Larissa, within the framework of innovative projects, participated in a Forensics Tournament in English, at the premises of “Ekpedeftiria Mpakogianni” school , in Larissa, in May 2019.

The Tournament, was filled with debating, acting, oral interpretations, impromptus, and a lot of excitement.

During the tournament, our School’s Forensics team presented their skills in the event:

  • Oral Interpretation of Literature

To be able to take part in the Tournament, our students learned and practiced the art and skills of competitive forensics .The preparation, lasted about two months.  First, they participated in the research and presentation of the material for oral interpretation of literature. 

The first week, included a close study of public speaking and oral interpretation, and little information about debate.   

All six students in our team,were required to participate in a forensics tournament preparation class, held outside the regularly scheduled class time. Our team met twice a week, for one hour each time. 

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Peer Feedback 

My students benefited from peer feedback in that they were able to teach others about the tournament  rules and provided feedback that they would consider relevant. In seeing that their peer feedback was relevant, students were more engaged and invested in working to complete the task successfully. Peer feedback also gave my students an opportunity to have their voices heard, and to listen to each other. It is often easier for us to understand concepts from people who are similar in age as we are.

Our selections

Our selections were from a short story, and four novels.Our selections  incorporated a mix of monologues, dialogues and narrative . Our emphasis was placed on the prose aspect of the performance and not the dramatic qualities of the performance. 

The objective

In general, the objective of a Forensics Lab and Tournament is to enable the participating students to work together and to exchange views on issues of concern to their age, and even, more general social issues and to tell beautiful stories. Also to cultivate their critical thinking, help them to become familiar within the conditions of healthy and democratic dialogue and ultimately, help them to improve their language proficiency in English. During the tournament,both teachers and parents had the opportunity to enjoy the result of the effort of all students ,which was in a high level.

One, will be surprised to find out that a Forensics Tournament, is primarily a question of listening skills.Active listening is what feeds the brain with the necessary information to manage all issues and make all kinds of decisions.At second reading, the the students’ engagement with all areas of concern to human activity and their analysis, empowers them with critical thinking skills which-in these difficult times – are the most important skills for survival.

Finally, the ability of young people to express themselves comprehensively and with clarity, on the issues that concern them, will be valuable, both in their intimate relationships and in the professional arena, in their adult life ,too.

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Useful  Info

HISTORY OF FORENSICS

In the early 1970’s, teachers of English from Anatolia College, Athens College (now known as the Hellenic American Educational Foundation), and Pinewood International Schools united to form the Forensics Society to give students from different schools the opportunity to meet to have discussions, make speeches and generally improve their speaking skills in English. 

Within a very short period thereafter, this ‘society’ grew to include another four schools: the American Community Schools (ACS), the Cairo American College, Campion School, and Pierce College (now PIERCE – The American College of Greece). Since that time, an additional nine schools have joined. These schools included the American School of Kuwait, Ekpedeftiki Anagenissi, Byron College, Costeas-Geitonas School, Geitonas School, Mantoulides Schools, The Moraitis School, St. Catherine’s British School, and St. Lawrence College. 

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There were two tournaments a year: The fall tournament was held in Athens and the spring tournament was held in Thessaloniki. In some tournaments there were up to sixteen schools participating in the various events. Students originally participated in Debate, Comic and Dramatic Oral Interpretation, Comic and Dramatic Duet Acting, Impromptu Speaking, Original Oratory, and Extemporaneous Speaking. Eventually, however, Extemporaneous Speaking was dropped from the competition due to the ‘controversial’ nature of the current events at the time, and Group Discussion was added. In the 1980s, because of the increase in the number of contestants and the demands on both students and advisors, it was unanimously decided by the coaches of the schools that the tournaments be limited to one annually, alternating between Athens and Thessaloniki each year. The tournament came to be called the Panhellenic Forensics Tournament. The number of contestants in any given tournament has approached 400 in the past few years.

In 2004, another change took place: The society became an official association and is now known as the Panhellenic Forensics Association. The Executive Board of the Association meets regularly and all schools participating in the tournament are members of the Association.

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Learning the Basics of Oral Interpretation

Oral Interpretation is the process by which words are pulled from the page and given dimension in a reader’s voice and body. Practitioners of oral interpretation bring stories to life, serving as a vehicle for the messages of the text. Some scholars argue that readers should unlock the meanings intended by the author (the vehicle should be empty) while others believe the meanings of texts inevitably transform as they filter through a reader’s voice, body, experiences, and culture (the vehicle is full of your stuff). Both ends of this dialectic are true: 1) readers should aim to honor the integrity of a text, using logic, analysis and research to investigate the concreteness and completeness literary text, and 2) readers should embrace the creative and artistic ways they effect how texts are understood, adapted, embodied, and delivered to an audience.

Guest speakers , in our ELT class!

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Bringing a guest speaker into our class is an opportunity I always seek out !

My students are exposed to a different style of spoken English, and they  also learn content  that will benefit them in their education, in general !

To make sure that my studenrs get full benefit , I don’t just bring a guest in and let him/her speak, though…. I usually guide him/her  and help them with ideas about what they can do with each one of my classes

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I always prepare my students on the topic first! That is, after presenting my  students with information about the speaker and the topic which she  will discuss, I  have each student write three to five follow up questions for our  guest. For example, before Vicky Loras visited my class last week, I asked my students to think about what they would like to know about both her and  her country . Thinking of questions for a guest speaker can be very challenging to most ESL students, especially if we  ask them to do it on the spot  .When Vicky finished talking to my students, I encouraged them to ask the questions they had written  earlier in the week, as well as the ones they wrote down as she was speaking.

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I also make sure that, I prepare my students on the speaker, too! The more I  can prepare the  students on what they will hear and experience, the less anxiety they will suffer. I encourage my students to do their best to understand our  guest speaker and to let it go when they do not.

Behavior matters! I communicate with my  students ahead of time what behavior is expected when listening to a guest speaker. I tell them that, they should listen quietly. They can ask questions, but it is most polite to wait until the end  to do so.

I have to admit that, my students were really well behaved when Vicky  arrived! I am really proud of them!

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Also, I , always prepare my guest speakers as to the language level of my  students before they coms to class to speak. Vicky for example, was well aware of the different levels of my classes before she stepped into each one  of them.

To help my  speakers, I  make  sure I  have everything they would  need for the presentation including a projector and our laptop!

Vicky was amazing at encouraging my students!  The lower the language level of the  class the more important this engagement is and Vicky was superb at this!

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After Vicky had  left and my  clasess had asked their questions, I asked my students how they felt about the experience! They were just thrilled! They loved Vicky, they came to know so much about Canada, too! Few students told me that they had struggles understanding the speaker but, I told them it was  perfectly normal for their level and age. Working with my  students before she came  and then again after she left made  this  good experience for my  students even better.

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I usually try to bring in speakers of different ages with different ethnic and geographical backgrounds. It is also helpful if the speaker is a native speaker of English ,since his or her speech patterns are more realistic even if more challenging for my  students.

I have been thinking about how my class can benefit  even more, by developing an ongoing relationship with our speakers. In Vicky’s case, it would be great if she could either visit again one day or, arrange a Skype meeting with our  classes! How cool would that be?

Our present to Vicky, was an issue of our handmade English magazine!

Our present to Vicky, was an issue of our handmade English magazine!

Thank you Vicky Loras, for the opportunity to share a lesson with you ! I am looking forward to reading your comments about your visit in  our classroom, in a future guest blog post!

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