First graders have a lot to say and the Huntington School District is encouraging them to speak out and let the world know what’s on their mind.
The youngsters are currently participating in monthly Speaking Up workshops in their respective classroom. The major areas of focus include personal presence, vocal tone and voice projection.
Each first grade class is being treated to four 30-minute long Speaking Up workshops, which center on the themes of character education and becoming a productive member of the school community. The initiative kicked off in November and runs through February.
The workshops are being conducted by teaching artist Heather Thorgersen, who has led Huntington SEARCH (Scholastic Enrichment and Resource for the Children in Huntington) program workshops for the past 15 years, including everything from Reader’s Theater to Shakespeare.
The sessions were originally made possible by a Huntington Foundation Star grant submitted by Maryann Daly, SEARCH program chairperson-teacher. Mrs. Daly has funded the more than five dozen individual workshops out of her program’s budget for many years “because of their value to the children,” she said.
“At my request, Heather developed a series of workshops concentrating on teaching young children the tools they will need to successfully present themselves in a public speaking setting,” Mrs. Daly said. “I focused on this particular area with the younger children because I have consistently experienced older students not knowing how to correctly present information, as well as themselves, when asked to speak before an audience. It is my hope and belief that early intervention and exposure in this important area will leave our children with the skills they will need as they mature.”
The program’s introductory class in November included a demonstration of how the voice works and an explanation and overview of essential body mechanisms. The session included the use of articulation, projection and breathing exercises along with games to learn proper stance, body position and personal presence and taught students how to find the power in their voice.
Workshop sessions two and three unpack in more detail the concepts of personal presence, vocal tone and voice projection. The fourth and final class will involve a culmination of the previous three sessions.
“During the fourth workshop students will fine tune their skills with Heather side coaching the children during mini-presentations,” Mrs. Daly said. “Class presentations will be performed in small group settings with the students utilizing the skills they have learned and addressing the theme of character education and what it means to be a productive member of the classroom and larger school community.”
Contact Mrs. Daly at [email protected] for more information.