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Play The Game

School: Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School

City/State: New York, NY

Grade(s): 12

Format(s): Speech, Video

Subject(s): English Language Arts

Project Overview

In an “Introduction to Rhetoric” unit, Seniors at WHEELS studied various commencement and convocation speeches and wrote rhetorical analysis essays around the essential question, “How can words compel action?”  Then, using a newly acquired rhetorical toolkit, students crafted motivational speeches for incoming ninth grade students at WHEELS.

Students drafted, revised, and rehearsed speeches and took their work through a peer critique protocol. Then, students recorded and produced their work using iMovie and other digital production software. Finally, students published their final speeches on the Vimeo digital platform and shared their work with the ninth-grade community during crew and English class.

Using a scoring tool, ninth graders viewed and rated each speech on the effectiveness of the message, persuasive appeal, and craftsmanship. The top speeches were played at a ninth grade community meeting where seniors were present to answer questions about the challenges of high school.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Useful model that encourages student reflection and analysis of her/his own high school experiences in order to offer advice to incoming freshman
  • Compelling model of engaging students through performing arts
  • Beautiful example of students perfecting their work for an authentic audience (incoming freshman at their school) and offering advice gleaned from personal experience
  • A high-quality student video (written, filmed, produced, recorded, and performed by students) with clear contribution to their community
  • Title of this well-crafted student piece sums up the artist's hard-earned advice on how to succeed in high school: play the game. This student describes high school as a board game. A game with rules: people who succeed know how to speak confidently, they have fun by joining clubs and being involved, they get organized, face their fears, and work hard.

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