Categories & Topics

Middle Level Forensics

Handbook & Recent Rules Changes

Middle Level Handbook

A new Middle Level Handbook will be posted in early October, with an update by November 1 for online participation considerations.

No rules changes were made for this season, however, free online adjudicator (judge) training will be available in December! Please review changes for the past two school years, just to refresh your memory! 

Full rules can be found in the  Middle Level Handbook. Specific adjustments for online participation will be released by November 1.

No rules changes were made for this season. Please review changes for the past two school years, just to refresh your memory! laughing Full rules can be found in the  Middle Level Handbook.

2018-19 Changes

  1. matching outfitsSpecified all WHSFA events are open to the public. Interscholastic contests are open to spectators; central to the educational objective of fostering public speaking involves audiences.
  2. A general meeting with adjudicators is required before all Level 1 and 2 festivals.
  3. Clarified that note cards or paper notes may be used, but are subject to evaluation.
  4. Changed Four-Minute Speech to Informative Speech and Eight-Minute to Persuasive Speech.
  5. Added allowance for visual supporting materials in Informative and Persuasive Speech, and added evaluation question for all speeches allowing visual aids that the speaker actively used them well to illustrate.
  6. Play Acting and Readers Theatre changed to a 10-minute time limit.
  7. Specify rule with costuming for Group Interpretive Reading and Play Acting: “merely dressing alike or coordinated outfits is not considered costuming” (see photo, above and to the right)
  8. Substitution rules (p. 5, #3) clarified (allows for any eligible student to substitute for an absent group member).

2017-18 Changes

Coach note:  Middle level advisors who also coach high school should use the same email address in SpeechWire when registering for contests. Include middle and high school students on the Team roster, in Your account (denote middle level students with high school graduation years).

Festival hosts/managers:

  • SpeechWire is free for taking online registration, scheduling rounds, and for tabulating results for WHSFA Level 1 and Level 2 contests; apply through the state office.
  • All schools participating in Level 1 or 2 contests must be current in WHSFA dues before the office will reimburse contest expenses. We will provide hosts/managers with a list of membership status.
  • The post-festival participation/reimbursement form must be completed online, <-- click link, or within SpeechWire.

Online Winter-Spring Season

WHSFA has consulted the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, as well as DPI, WIAA, WSMA, NFHS, and similar organizations. All 2020-21 contests will be online, with all contests run as asynchronous, statewide options. Please see specific guidance and FAQs on the Speech Contests and/or Middle Level Contests pages.

2020-21 Middle Level Speech Topics

Moments in History

1920s and/or 1600s
(select one or both time periods)

Students may consider, but are not limited to these topic areas:  Politics or Military Action, Historical Sites/Monuments, Natural Disasters, Ethnology/Legends/Folklore, Science/Inventions/Medicine, Arts and Entertainment, Geography, Transportation, Sports, Religion, Heroes or Villains, Personalities, Significant Speech, Fashion and Fads.

Special Occasion

Select one occasion to develop a speech for:

  • New product launch announcement
  • Rally speech focused on cause/issue
  • Speech arguing against school program budget cuts
  • Eulogy for a political figure
  • Newly-elected official announcing priorities for first few months in office
  • Speech welcoming students back to face-to-face learning after being virtual
  • Speech announcing a medical advancement or breakthrough
!

Extemporaneous Speech

This year’s questions focus on systemic racism.

  • Why is the term “privilege” so controversial?
  • What are the impacts of equity versus equality?
  • How can police departments prevent brutality against individuals who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color?
  • How does implicit bias impact education?
  • What are the impacts of racism in healthcare?
  • What anti-racist reforms are needed in the U.S. criminal justice system?
  • How does racism impact mass media?
  • What impact have protests had in addressing racism in the United States?
  • What are microaggressions, and why are they a problem?
  • How do food insecurity and food deserts disproportionately impact families of Color?
  • How does redlining impact individuals and families of Color?
  • What federal laws could be passed to mitigate systemic racism?

Students may not repeat a topic from previous seasons, including 2019-20.

Contest Categories

Public Speaking

Students write original speeches, and may use notes to outline or include speaking points, but not word-for-word manuscripts (to help students engage directly with audiences).

Max. Time
Demonstration Speech
10 min.
Extemporaneous Speech
6 min.
Informative Speech
4 min.
Moments in History
6 min.
News Reporting
10 min.
Persuasive Speech
8 min.
Special Occasion Speech
4 min.
Visuals
Demonstration Speech
Extemporaneous Speech
Informative Speech
Moments in History
News Reporting
Persuasive Speech
Special Occasion Speech
Description
Demonstration Speech
1-2 speakers demonstrate how to do something or how something works.
Extemporaneous Speech
30 minutes prior to speaking each round, the contestant will select a question from which to phrase a direct and clear answer and support it with evidence and reasoning.
Informative Speech
Present a speech with a narrow enough topic to be developed adequately in the time provided to share knowledge, educate and/or raise awareness.
Moments in History
Explore an historical topic within prescribed topics, using such sources as archival records, diaries, personal interviews, letters, newspapers, etc.
News Reporting
1-3 students develop a newscast surrounding current events, suitable for TV or radio, reading from a manuscript.
Persuasive Speech
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.
Special Occasion Speech
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: = performed from manuscript; = memorized.

Max. Time
Non-Original Oratory
8 min.
Play Acting
10 min.
Poetry Reading
8 min.
Prose Reading
8 min.
Readers Theatre
10 min.
Solo Acting
8 min.
Storytelling
8 min.
Mode
Non-Original Oratory
/
Play Acting
Poetry Reading
Prose Reading
Readers Theatre
Solo Acting
Storytelling
/
Genres
Non-Original Oratory
Speech
Play Acting
Single play (dramatic literature)
Poetry Reading
Poetry, verse, song lyrics
Prose Reading
Short stories, cuttings from novels, drama, essays, nonfiction
Readers Theatre
Any except drama
Solo Acting
Any genre
Storytelling
Any genre; most often, narrative prose
Description
Non-Original Oratory
The contestant presents a speech originally delivered by someone else.
Play Acting
2-5 performers act a scene or cutting from a single play with emphasis on character development, ensemble, and appropriate physical movement.
Poetry Reading
One or more poems center on a theme or emotion; delivery mines the artistry of language.
Prose Reading
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
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
The contestant convincingly acts characterization(s) to transport the audience to the world of the material peformed.
Storytelling
Chronicle and perform events in a coherent, unified, clear, and interesting manner, while seated and conveying a sense of audience.