Speech, Debate, and Drama are integral parts of the curriculum at Millhopper Montessori School for all 1st through 8th grade students. The 1st through 5th grade are given thirty minutes of instruction each week, while middle school students receive an hour of instruction each week.
Speech & Public Speaking are taught to ease the students into speaking in front of groups. In 1st through 3rd grades they learn delivery techniques by reading from their journals and presenting poems or stories. The 4th and 5th graders begin to write their own speeches and deliver them. In 6th through 8th grades, the students learn to write various speeches and deliver them in various styles. By 8th grade, the students deliver their speeches extemporaneously using a keyword outline and also deliver a five minute impromptu speech. Lessons of voice projection, varying tones, and proper body language, as well as not fidgeting and being prepared, begin in the 1st grade and continue through 8th grade.
Debate teaches formal discussion of various opinions. The 1st through 3rd graders learn to make informed opinions by discussing the differences between gathering information before the opinion is formed and making an opinion without knowing all the facts. 4th and 5th graders, in opposing teams, research a simple issue, formulate an opinion, and write an introduction, talking points with backing research, and a conclusion before presenting a debate. The middle school students spend weeks researching a current event, environmental issue, or historical issue and present a formal debate to the 1st through 5th grade students every other year.
Drama teaches students the creative process of acting, auditioning, script-writing, and presenting a show. Every other year the students in 1st through 5th grades learn and recite Shakespeare using the “Shakespeare Can Be Fun” series that retells the stories in rhyme. The middle school creates a theatrical portfolio that includes: a re-written scene, cultural overview, props, characterization, and costumes. Their hard work and re-written scenes are presented at the Shakespeare Festival at the historic Thomas Center. In 2010, a twenty minute rendition of the Third Annual Shakespeare Festival earned an Excellent rating at the National Performing Arts Festival in Disney World. Two of the students earned Outstanding Performance medals. The judges were so impressed with the re-written scenes that the students were awarded a “Judges Choice” trophy for their efforts. The culmination of the Drama Unit is an End of the Year Show presented annually at a community theater, such as PK Yonge Performing Arts Center or Eastside High School’s Theater.
Millhopper Montessori offers two afterschool drama studios and a vocal ensemble studio:
The Spotlight Kids Thespians: A competitive drama troupe for students in 6th-8th grades
The Spotlight Kids Junior: Students in 3rd-5th grades
The Spotlight Singers: Students in 1st-8th grades
During Summer Camp, many acting workshops are offered to keep up with the skills taught throughout the year.
Every other year, Millhopper Montessori School’s middle school students “Rocks The Bard” with their Shakespeare Unit in Literature. They read several of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets, study cultural aspects of the time, and learn about the life of William Shakespeare.
Creating a Theatrical Portfolio, the students rewrite their own scene from one the playwright’s tales. This portfolio includes a cultural overview of the scene and play, a re-written script, character analysis and description, a props list, and a costume sketch. In Drama class, they bring their scripts to life and prepare to perform their scenes in a Shakespeare Festival at the Thomas Center, Spanish Court. The festival is performed for elementary students and is designed to teach the younger students all about The Bard.
All students in 1st-8th grades learn how to formally present an argument that includes research and persuasive writing. Every other year, Middle School students prepare a formal debate and present for the 1st-5th grades.