Advice/information from current team members for new team members
Parent Information Sheet
Student Information Sheet and Tournament Schedule
Parent Information Sheet
Student Information Sheet and Tournament Schedule
What is forensics all about?
Forensics is a competitive public speaking team. We travel the state and compete against other schools. Each student chooses a category to compete in. About half the categories are acting/interpretive categories, and half the categories are speech categories. Student might act out part of a humorous or serious play, read a poem or short story, perform a piece they wrote, or give an informational, humorous, or persuasive speech on a topic they're passionate about. Students compete in categories like: solo acting (humorous and serious), storytelling, poetry reading, demonstration speaking, public address, original oratory, and play acting.
Forensics is unlike other activities in that it is both individual and team-based. Individual students can win awards for their performances, but the team as a whole is also competing against other teams.
Why should students join forensics?
Forensics is a lot of fun. You work on something you're passionate about all season. You become super-close friends with your teammates. You meet people from other schools all around the state. You compete and win awards.
Forensics will teach you how to write a killer speech--humorous, informational, or persuasive. It will teach you how to use your voice and your body to put on an engaging, moving, or hilarious performance. It will teach you how to speak in front of people. It will teach you how to have confidence in yourself and conduct yourself in a professional setting. It will give you an outlet for all of the talkative energy you have inside of you. If you've always felt like you had something to say, but weren't quite sure where you would have a place to say it, forensics is the place for you.
Aside from this, having done forensics in high school increases your chances of being admitted to college--more than most extracurriculars do. It teaches you communication, teamwork and leadership skills--the skills your future employers value most highly. It will give you the ability to speak with confidence, which will help you any time you need to talk to new people (job interviews, making new friends, etc.).
From personal experience, out of all the activities I participated in throughout high school and college, forensics taught me the most long-term. It was probably also the most fun thing I did.
What type of commitment is forensics?
Students commit to a minimum of one hour of practice at school each week during the forensics season, plus the time spent attending all tournaments they are interested in/able to attend. Most students spend time practicing outside of school too. It is what you make of it.
Even though most pieces and speeches are only 8-10 minutes in length, our team practices like we would perform at a tournament. At a tournament, a round of competition is approximately one hour. Each competitor gets a chance to perform, and the judge gives feedback on each performance. In our practices, each student gets a chance to perform, and his or her teammates give feedback (in addition to the coach's comments). Every member of our team gives feedback to others, and every member of the team receives feedback from his or her teammates. Our team owes its success not only to individual hard work, but to the help our teammates give each other in practice.
The commitment required also depends on how far you want to go in the activity and how well you do in competition. If you do well at the subdistrict tournament, you can qualify for district, and if you do well there you can go to state. The better you do, the longer your season goes.
When does practice start?
Practice starts in a few weeks, but it's never too early to start looking for a piece or begin writing your speech for the season! If you haven't joined yet, it's not too late! Contact Mr. Freitag at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by room 118!
How often are practices?
Right now, the tentative practice schedule is from 3:00-4:00 on Thursdays. Depending on how large our team grows, I may open up more official practice times.
Forensics Categories: (From WHSFA.org)
Following are 2016-17 high school topics for Moments in History, Public Address, Special Occasion and Storytelling.
Moments in History
- 1990s or 1750-1800 (choose one time period)
- What, if anything should be done to reduce costs for post-secondary education?
- To what extent, if any, should public schools recognize rights of transgendered individuals?
- What, if anything, should government do to address gun violence?
- What should be the new U.S. President’s top three priorities?
- To what extent, if any, is the Electoral College an outdated way of electing the U.S. President?
- A speech to a veteran’s organization
- A speech in response to a scandal
- A sales pitch to investors for a new product or invention
- A dedication of an art exhibit or public art installation
- A story from Scandinavia
- A story about food
- A story about overcoming obstacles
- A story about technology
Descriptions of categories follow:
- Demonstration Speech: A demonstration speech explains how to do something or how something works. The speaker(s) must demonstrate a process using objects or physical activity. Visual aids (charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, pictures, etc.) are optional, and may be used to enhance the demonstration, but are not to take the place of objects or activity. The speech must be instructive and present valuable and significant information.
- Extemporaneous Speech: The Extemporaneous Speech should provide a direct response to the question drawn. The challenge to the speaker is to phrase a clear answer to the question and support it with evidence and reasoning. The participant may use resource material from any publication, but questions - supplied by the WHSFA State Office for every level - will be based on current news events, and questions will be drawn from credible news sources published during the previous three months.
- Four-Minute Speech: The challenge to the speaker is to present well-developed material, which has the primary intent of informing, although persuasive elements may be present. The speaker should limit the topic to ideas that can be developed adequately in the time allotted. The speech is to be organized, coherent, unified, and clear. A range of support materials are to be used which can include quotations, statistics, examples, comparisons, and analogies. Correct citation of support materials should be used where appropriate.
- Moments in History: The challenge to the speaker is to select an historical topic within the limits presented each year by WHSFA. The general focus for a speech in this category is an exploration of history. Students may consider (but are not limited to) using the following areas of research: archival records, diaries, personal interviews, letters, newspapers, etc. The speaker is to use this researched information to compose and present a well-organized, informative speech. Speakers may use visual materials, but such materials must support, not dominate, the presentation. This category calls for a speech, not a visual media show or an acting performance.
- Oratory: The oration is expected to be a thoroughly prepared, well composed, and well expressed speech of persuasion on a significant topic. As such, the oration must be unequivocally persuasive in its purpose. It may fulfill its persuasive challenge in one of three ways: 1) by alerting the audience to existence of a problem; 2) by affirming existence of a problem and offering a solution; or 3) by urging adoption of a policy. While the topic of the oration should be of significance to general society, it should be adapted to an audience composed of the speaker's peers. An effective oration is characterized by clear, vivid, and forceful language and appropriate stylistic devices such as metaphor, comparison/contrast, irony, allusion, analogy, etc. Quality supporting materials are a necessary part of the oration.
- Public Address Speech: The challenge to the speaker is to contribute to the public dialog on a contemporary issue by presenting a well-informed speech directly responding to a question about that issue, selected from a list provided annually by WHSFA. The speaker is to be knowledgeable and is to use quality supporting material to substantiate his/her position. The Public Address speech is to be well-organized, clear, and effectively presented.
- Special Occasion: The challenge to the speaker is to write a speech appropriate to a specific occasion and its probable audience. It is possible that a speech may pursue more than one of the standard general purposes of informing, persuading, or entertaining. Speakers may use visual materials but such materials must support – not dominate – the presentation. This category calls for a speech, not a visual media show. The situations from which the student selects are determined each year by WHSFA.
- Farrago: The challenge of Farrago is to select material from a variety of literary genres (poetry, short stories, speeches, essays, drama, songs, novels), which address a central specific theme or emotion and to interpret the material through oral presentation. Quality material is required. Quality material – that which provides insight into human values, motivations, relationships, problems, and understandings, and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings, or stereotyped characterizations.
- Group Interpretive Reading: Contrary to dramatic performance, the challenge of this category is to compile and present a literary script in such manner that the audience imagines action being described rather than witnessing it being performed. Symbolic characterization and vocal and physical action, rather than a literal dramatization or pantomime, is required. Ideas are imagined through oral reading and not through acting; therefore, the ensemble of oral readers act as a medium of expression for the audience. Group Interpretive Reading is an ensemble presentation by 2-5 readers.
- Play Acting: Participants perform a scene or cutting from a play with emphasis on character development and appropriate physical movement. Participants may play more than one character; however, extreme fragmentation of actors into multiple roles may have a severely adverse impact on the ability to develop a believable character portrayal during the limited time available. Play Acting is an ensemble presentation by 2-5 actors.
- Poetry: The participant should select one or more poems centering on a specific theme or emotion. The presentation is read from a manuscript.
- Prose: The participant should select one or more works of prose literature, including short stories, cutting from novels, drama, essays, or other non-fiction work, centering on a specific theme or emotion. The presentation is read from a manuscript.
- Radio Speaking: The challenge to the speaker is to present a well-organized, clearly communicated newscast. Source material provided by the state office of approximately 15-20 minutes in length is to be cut and edited with special efforts made to end right at 5 minutes. The host school is to provide the adjudicator with a copy of the packet of material given to each speaker. At least one commercial is to be included within the time limits of the presentation.
- Solo Acting (Humorous/Serious): The material shall be a cutting from serious or humorous drama or other literature adapted to the dramatic format with brief narrative transitions allowed that includes any number of characters. By using the self as a medium between the selection and the audience, the student shall create the character(s) and shall utilize action appropriate to the characterization(s) within the control of the setting. Students will enter either Humorous or Serious divisions at sub-district, district, and state festivals, with up to four entries per school in both divisions, collectively. Quality material is required. Quality material –that which provides insight into human values, motivations, relationships, problems, and understandings, and is not characterized by sentimentality, violence for its own sake, unmotivated endings, or stereotyped characterizations.
- Storytelling: To tell a story is to chronicle events. The storyteller’s purpose is to chronicle those events in a coherent, unified, clear, and interesting manner. While seated, the storyteller utilizes vocal variation and physical movement to suggest different characters and character relationships in order to make the story clearer and more interesting. The emphasis of the storyteller’s art is on the teller as an intermediary or narrator. The student is expected to demonstrate a sense of audience, that is, tell the chosen story in a manner suitable for the intended audience, be it young children, teenagers, or adults. Students select and rehearse a story for each of the topic areas set by the WHSFA each year.