Middle Level Categories/Topics

Scroll down for descriptions of public speaking and performance of literature categories.

2023-24 Topics #

Extemporaneous Speech #

This year’s questions focus on technology and society.

  1. How has artificial intelligence changed assistive technology for people with disabilities?
  2. In what ways does artificial intelligence endanger our society?
  3. How should students responsibly use generative artificial intelligence in the classroom?
  4. What are the biggest problems with social media, and what should be done to fix them?
  5. Who gains the most from generative artificial intelligence?
  6. wWhat should the U.S. government do to protect against cyber threats?
  7. How has access to technology increased during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
  8. What should be done to counter “deepfake” disinformation? 
  9. What can be done to better promote rural access to the Internet? 
  10. How can the U.S. improve upon the skills gap in technology?
  11. Are U.S. privacy laws strong enough to protect technology users?
  12. What are the advantages and disadvantages of augmented reality?

Moments in History #

Choose one or both time periods:

  • 1900-1919
  • 1970s (1970-1979)

Examples of areas students might consider: politics, military action, historic sites, monuments, natural disasters, ethnology, legends, folklore, science, inventions, medicine, arts,  entertainment, geography, transportation, sports, religion, heroes, villains, personalities, significant speeches, fashion, and fads.

Pro-Con #

Select one question and develop two contrasting speeches of up to four minutes apiece:

  1. To what degree, if any, should generative artificial intelligence be regulated and by whom?
  2. To what extent, if any, should schools require community service as a graduation requirement?
  3. What actions, if any, should be taken by the government to ensure an individual’s right to privacy? 
  4. What standards and processes, if any, should be used in determining appropriate content/books/texts in classrooms and school libraries?
  5. What, if anything, should the government do to address economic inequality (e.g., minimum wage, jobs programs, food/housing security)?

Special Occasion #

Choose one occasion:

  1. A public apology
  2. Address to Board of Education
  3. Speech delivered to a school assembly of current students
  4. Wedding toast

Category Descriptions #

Public Speaking #

Students write original speeches, and may use one 4″ x 6″ note card, where students are encouraged to outline or include speaking points, rather than word-for-word manuscripts (so they can engage better with audiences).

Max. Time Max. Time Visuals Description
Expository Speech 4 min. Present a speech with a narrow enough topic to be developed adequately in the time provided to share knowledge, educate and/or raise awareness.
Extemporaneous Speech 6 min. 30 minutes prior to speaking, the contestant will select a question from which to phrase a direct and clear answer and support it with evidence and reasoning.
Informative/Demonstration Speech 10 min. 1-2 speakers offer new information, fresh perspective, and/or instruction to allow an audience to gain knowledge and understanding of a topic and/or process.
Moments in History 6 min. Explore an historical topic within prescribed topics, using such sources as archival records, diaries, personal interviews, letters, newspapers, etc.
News Reporting 10 min. 1-3 students develop a newscast surrounding current events, suitable for TV or radio, reading from a manuscript.
Persuasive Speech 8 min. Persuade with compelling language by offering a solution to a problem; to take action in response to a situation; or potentially reinforce and strengthen attitudes.
Pro-Con (Pilot) Two X 4 min. Present two speeches of up to 4. min. with contrasting viewpoints on one of the prescribed annual questions provided by WISDAA.
Special Occasion 4 min. Responding to a prescribed topic area, deliver a speech appropriate to a specific occasion and its probable audience by entertaining, persuading, or informing.

Performance of Literature #

Contestants interpret literature to convey the human existence, exploring psychology of characters, to mine the artistry of language, and/or cultivate arguments surrounding themes/issues. Key: Book = performed from manuscript; Brain = memorized.

Category Max. Time Mode Genres Description
Non-Original Oratory 8 min. / Speech The contestant presents a speech originally delivered by someone else.
Play Acting 10 min. Single play (dramatic literature) 2-7 performers act a scene or cutting from a single play with emphasis on character development, ensemble, and appropriate physical movement.
Poetry Reading 8 min. Poetry, verse, song lyrics One or more poems center on a theme or emotion; delivery mines the artistry of language.
Prose Reading 8 min. Short stories, cuttings from novels, drama, essays, nonfiction One or more works of prose — including short stories, cutting from novels, drama, essays, or other non-fiction work — center on a specific theme or emotion.
Readers Theatre 10 min. Any genre 2-7 readers compile and present a script with symbolic interpretation such that the audience imagines action being described rather than witnessing it being performed.
Solo Acting 8 min. Any genre The contestant convincingly acts characterization(s) to transport the audience to the world of the material peformed.
Storytelling 8 min. / Any genre; most often, narrative prose Chronicle and perform events in a coherent, unified, clear, and interesting manner, while seated and conveying a sense of audience for one of the prescribed topic areas.
Updated on 01/02/2024
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