Click the image to access a photo gallery. Photos by Taylor Lembrich
Posted May 15, 2017
Sixth-graders at Riverview Middle School recently held the fifth annual Greatest Person Speech Competition with sports-style brackets.
The competition was the culmination of a month-long unit on great people throughout history, as part of the language arts and social studies curriculum.
All 136 sixth-graders began by picking a person from history who could be considered great – that is, having some positive impact on society – and were placed into one of four brackets: Humanities, Science & Technology, Sports & Entertainment, or Leadership.
Students then read a biography or autobiography about the person and completed several reading organizers narrowing down biographical information, developing two strong arguments why that person should be considered the greatest of all time, and creating a strong counter-argument with a solid defense. Many of these “Greatest People” were found to have qualities such as outreach to education, philanthropic contributions to society on a large scale, dedication to their area of skill, determination, drive, courage, and many other positive and world changing qualities.
The research and arguments were gathered into a paper and then adapted to a persuasive speech. Students initially gave their speech in front of their language arts teacher and another judge, as well as their classmates. They were judged according to a rubric that evaluated their introduction, biographical information, strength of arguments, and conclusion, as well as factors related to the delivery of the speech.
Those with the higher average score in each bracket advanced in each round. Students did not necessarily know who they were pitted against, nor the other student's score.
“All students were given feedback after each round of speeches and were encouraged to make changes to improve,” said sixth-grade teacher Taylor Lembrich. “It was a truly amazing thing to see the students support one another whether they moved on or not in the brackets. It was not only a great language arts and speaking lesson, but one in humility and support of fellow classmates. Some students even went so far as to write each other little notes of encouragement.”
The entire class gathered May 2 to watch the final two speakers in each bracket category face off. All sixth-grade students were invited to dress like their famous person and participate in a “Parade of Greatness.”
“This year finals were so great because all the sixth-graders were able to dress up as their greatest person, walk across the stage, and introduce themselves and their person to the audience,” Ms. Lembrich said. “It was also a neat experience because they were able to see their peers present some pretty incredible speeches.”
Superintendent Carrie Dassow, Assistant Superintendent Dan Mella, Pupil Services Director Anne Gamoke, and Business Services Director Jon Miller served as the final-round judges.
Winners of the 2016 Greatest Person Speech Competition were:
Winners received a wall hanging of themselves and their greatest person donated by Board of Education member Bob Travis and InkWorks, and a trophy created by PHS students in Ken Odekirk’s technology lab.