Collaborative Assignment Design – Kyueun Kim and Kahdeidra Martin

Assignment Overview

Rhetoric is an important skill and art form that is used in all disciplines and aspects of life. As educators of speech communication and English composition, we want to support our students in strengthening their abilities to craft and deliver a speech that is appropriate to one’s occasion and audience. We collaborated to design one assignment that could be used in both introductory level speech and composition courses at undergraduate institutions.

For a final assignment, students will perform a commemorative speech in class. This assignment supports the objective of using the writing process to plan, revise, and finalize written assignments for diverse audiences, that is common to both speech communication and composition courses. In composition courses, the assignment also supports close reading and literary analysis skills. For example, students will need to develop a strong understanding of  characterization and other elements of fiction in order to convincingly write from the perspective of a character. In addition, they will use close reading strategies to make realistic predictions about character behavior in imagined contexts, thereby extending the author’s narrative.


Student Facing Assignment

Final Assignment: Commemorative Speech

Have you ever attended a wedding and nearly teared up when the maid of honor and best man offered their undying support and praise for the bride and groom? Or, have you ever imagined yourself winning a coveted prize or award for your dedication and achievement in [whateveritisyoudobest]? What would you say at the award ceremony? What would others say about you?

For our final assignment, you will write and perform a commemorative speech. This speech focuses on the use of language and performance to celebrate and show gratitude to someone or something. You can pay tribute to a person close to you, a celebrity, a group of people, an institution, an event, or an idea, etc. It calls for a less didactic speech than informative and persuasive speeches.

We will prepare for our live performances by: 1) drafting and editing our written speeches, 2) viewing and evaluating sample speeches from the media, and 3) performing and assessing a rehearsal speech. By the time we begin final speeches, all students will have received ample feedback on the content, format, and oral performance of their works. It is my hope that the final speeches are a celebration of growth and learning over the semester.

Part I – Write

Composition Prompt: Write a 3-5 min. commemorative speech based on the perspective of a character in a short story, poem, or play that we have read throughout the semester. Here are a couple of options that may be useful to start your thinking:

  1. Did your character attend an event at which he or she could have recited a commemorative speech?
  2. Based on your knowledge of the character’s interests, desires, and aspirations, imagine an achievement that he or she may be lauded for in the near future. Whom would he or she thank for support along the way?
  3. Does your character know anyone who may be getting married, achieving something remarkable on the job, winning an election, or other action that would elicit a celebration? Or, could someone they love pass away? What would your character say as words of  praise or eulogy?

Speech Communication Core Prompt: Write a 3-5 min. commemorative speech based on a real or imagined situation.

Take some time to review your notes and readings. Next, review the Exemplary Commemorative Speeches From Movies and note any patterns or strategies that you think will be helpful in drafting your own speech. You can use the speech graphic organizer 7 steps to writing your commemorative speech to help with writing your first draft.

Assessment: I will assess your written speeches using the Special Occasion Speech Rubric, and I will also use the same sheet to evaluate your delivered speech. The written speech is worth 70 points total, and the delivered speech is worth 50 points.

Part II – Evaluate

Evaluate a recorded commemorative speech from a real life or fictional context. During a class session, we will choose one of the example speeches to view and analyze using the Out-of-Class Speech Observation Worksheet. This will provide a guided model for you before you embark on the individual assignment.

View at least two speeches from the list below and choose one to evaluate:

        1. Madonna’s Tribute to Michael Jackson (6:39)
        2. Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance speech  at the 2018 Golden Globes (9:39)
        3. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2016 Tonys Acceptance Speech: ‘Love is Love’ (1:34)
        4. A Beautiful Mind John Nash: 1994 Nobel Prize Acceptance Address [VIDEO + DIGITALLY ENHANCED AUDIO!]  (1:40)
        5. Mr. Holland’s Opus Governor Lang Honors Mr. Holland and his Opus [VIDEO + Digitally ENHANCED AUDIO!] (2:24)
        6. The Life of Emile Zola Eulogy for Emile Zola         [VIDEO + DIGITALLY ENHANCED AUDIO!] (2:32)

Complete the “Out of Class Observation” worksheet for your chosen clip, and be prepared to discuss your feedback during class.

Assessment: I will assess observations as Complete or Incomplete. This assignment counts towards your Informal Writing grade and will not be included as part of your final grade for the commemorative speech assignment.

Part III – Rehearse

After editing your written speech to incorporate feedback, you will rewrite it, and record a rehearsal speech. First, you will divide into pairs, and then you will record and upload your speeches to Vocat. Use the Commemorative Speech Evaluation Form to evaluate your partner’s speech and to provide written and oral feedback. In addition, you will complete the Special Occasion Speech Self-Assessment to evaluate your own speeches.

Assessment: I will assess observations as Complete or Incomplete. This assignment counts towards your Informal Writing grade and will not be included as part of your final grade for the commemorative speech assignment.

Part IV – Showtime!

As a culminating activity, you will incorporate your learning and feedback from Parts I- III to perform a live commemorative speech during class. Before delivering your speech, prepare a 4-5 sentence introduction to identify your character, the occasion, and projected audience for the speech.

Assessment: I will use the Delivery and Time limit sections of the “Special Occasion Speech Rubric.” You can earn up to an additional 50 points towards your speech. Your final grade for the speech will be based on the total points earned from Parts I and IV (70 + 50 = 120 points possible). (Note: The time limit is 3 min. on the rubric, so we would edit it to 5 min. before teaching this unit.)

Technology Use:

Students will use a range of open access technology to complete their assignments. First, they will need access to Vocat. It is an effective tool to use for annotation and for a peer review assignment such as ours. However, the loading time is excessive, and there are often glitches. Second, they will need access to an electronic device with recording capabilities because they will need to record their own speeches in order to upload them to Vocat. Third, students will need access to a reliable internet connection in order to view the six example speeches on various websites, and they will need to use word processing software to type their final speeches. Finally, they will need access to a printer in order to run off hard copies of their completed manuscripts.

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