Speech and Debate

12 Historical Speeches Nobody Ever Heard
What if the Apollo 11 astronauts had been stranded in space? What if the invasion at Normandy during WWII had failed? Texts of speeches that were never delivered. These would make a good pre-writing activity to accompany reading: what might Juliet Capulet have said had she awakened 5 minutes sooner? What might Jim have said to Huck had they found Cairo as they had planned?

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
No matter how good a written speech is, the delivery is what the audience remembers. Learning about and practicing volume, stress, pacing, and pronunciation helps students to deliver an oral presentation effectively.

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
Text of the speech in both web and MS Word formats.

American Rhetoric
This extensive resource includes an online speech bank, a "Top 100 Speeches" list, a database of figures of speech, and more. Many of these resources are available as audio files.

Battling for Liberty: Tecumseh's and Patrick Henry's Language of Resistance
Students compare and contrast Patrick Henry's famous speech with two by Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee to develop an appreciation of powerful language.

"Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat"
Complete text of Churchill's speech to the House of Commons in May 1940.

Circle of Stories
Documentary film, photography, artwork and music exploring Native American storytelling. Lessons available at the site are designed for grades 6-12.

Links for using debate in the classroom and for the national high school debate topic.

Demonstration Speech
An annotated outline for a model demonstration speech.

Dr. King's Dream
Part of this lesson focuses on Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. It is designed for grades K-2.

Effective Speech Writing
Suggestions for working with a theme, including examples from other speeches.

Express Yourself: Crafting Social Location Maps and Identity Monologues
Students map their social locations (definition and model included), reflect on their identity and the dramatic purpose of monologue, and craft speeches that explore defining aspects of their lives.

"Four Freedoms"
Audio file and text of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's State of the Union address in 1941. Also available in PDF and Flash versions.

Free Speech: Reading Closely by Preparing a Hypertext Version of a Political Speech
Students share opinions and feedback about the speech on race delivered by Barack Obama on March 18, 2008. They then create a hypertext-annotated version of the speech that explains its historical and contemporary references and offers personal commentary. This lesson includes a copy of the speech; other speeches would also work with this strategy.

Gifts of Speech: Women's Speeches from Around the World
Searchable and browsable, this site includes speeches from Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Emma Goldman, Margaret Chase Smith, and others.

Has the Cat Got Your Tongue?
Students work to improve their enunciation skills by taking part in a tongue-twister speaking competition and writing tongue twisters of their own! This lesson is designed for grades 3-5.

Hello, America! Radio Broadcasting in the Years before Television
Students write and create radio programs. A 10-age handout includes background information and teaching suggestions. Adobe Reader or compatible application required for access.

How to Speak to that People Want to Listen
In this TED talk (9:58), Julian Treasure demonstrates the how-to's of powerful speaking — from some handy vocal exercises to tips on how to speak with empathy.

I Have a Metaphor
A lesson in identifying the literary devices used in Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" Speech: analogy, symbolism, use of chronology, personification, metaphor, figurative language and the effective use of repetition.

Impromptu Public Speaking Topics
This page has a list of 50 topics.

It's All About Me
Designed for third grade, this thorough unit plan includes 11 lessons and a culminating activity. Students explore biography and autobiography, review parts of speech, conduct interviews, and give a speech. This 37-page document includes lesson plans and handouts. It requires Adobe Reader or compatible application for access. Consider downloading the file and printing only those pages you need.

Monologue Archive
Comic, dramatic, and classical monologues for men, women, children, and seniors. It is also possible to browse for monologues by playwright.

Narrative Speech
Students give a narrative speech using visual aids. The student must bring in three things that represent them in some way and explain why these things are significant. The 2-4 minute speech will be given with no notes. Adobe Reader required for access.

Narrative Speech Assignment
This assignment includes suggestions for organization and evaluation.

National Speech and Debate Association/National Forensic League
Links to debate topic, Stennis Student Congress resolution, National Junior Forensic League, and NFL services including Rostrum magazine.

Out Loud
Students assess the experience of reading and being read to aloud, both in person and on audio, and then practice and perform their own oral readings.

Persuasive Speech
Everything you need to prepare a persuasive speech: an outline, step-by-step analysis, and examples.

The Power of Speech
Students explore equal rights issues as they practice the skills necessary for public speaking.

Preparing Students to Present
This infographic lists 27 ways to help prepare students for successful presentations.

Robert's Rules of Order
The official web site, with Frequently Asked Questions and other resources.

Say It Plain: A Century of Great African American Speeches
Reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and critical thinking activities using audio clips and transcripts of moving and powerful speeches.

Speaking Up: Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking
One part infographic, one part tips for speakers, this page analyzes our common fears and suggests ways to overcome fear of speaking in public.

State of the Union Creative Assignment
Introduction and 5 activities supporting study of the State of the Union Address: edit the speech, support or defend one statement from the speech, evaluate the topics chosen, write a critical response, write a catch phrase.

Storytelling Activities & Lesson Ideas
A wide variety of activities for all grade levels.

Ten Simple Rules for Making Good Oral Presentations
From "Talk to the Audience" to "Provide Appropriate Acknowledgments," good advice for speakers of all ages.