Want to learn how to get credit for speech club in high school as a homeschooler?
Does the idea of homeschooling a high school class in public speaking seem impossible because you don’t have a large enough class? This case can be solved by joining a Toastmasters International Gavel Club.
What is a Gavel Club?
Toastmasters International has an inexpensive option called Gavel Clubs for people who are ineligible for their regular membership – like people younger than 18 years old. Gavel clubs use the same fabulous manuals as regular clubs. This means you can get a successfully proven curriculum for public speaking as a homeschooler.
Where can I find a Gavel club?
I would recommend contacting Toastmasters International to find out if there is a club already in your area. Like this one:
- Queen City Gavel Club in North Carolina
What if there isn’t a club near me?
Can you find others who want to start one? If you don’t have a club in your area, consider starting a gavel club of your own, like we did. If you have a homeschool co-op, this could be an affordable option.
But how do I give high school credit for a speech club?
Typical Credit hours
Do you know the generic formula for figuring out high school credit? A typical full-year class that uses on a well-established text, like Algebra 1 or 10th grade Chemistry, is worth one-credit. You finish the text (or at least 75% of the text and you get the one credit.
One-credit courses are designed to be 120-180 hours of work. 150 hours is equal to 1 hour a day for 5 days a week for 30 weeks. So if your class is not based on a standard textbook, you figure out the work done based on the work done.
That’s how you can figure out this kind of public speaking course.
Sample Local Community College Public Speaking Course
In addition to our Gavel Club, one of my sons also took a one-semester public speaking class at the local community college. This college level class was 3 credits for 45 contact hours. Remember, college credits and high school credits are on a different scale. A 3-credit, one-semester college class is generally equivalent to a full year 1-credit high school class in class time.
So what does that mean?
I’m giving you these specifics to help you assess what you end up doing. Keep the “120 hours” formula in mind when you plan how you will approach giving credit for something like a Gavel Speech Club. You have a lot of flexibility here. Keep reading for some specific examples.
How much work is involved in Gavel Club?
Let’s start with the basic curriculum of Toastmasters International. The first speaking manual you work on is called “Competent Communication: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Speaker.” This manual details ten speeches that build on each other, starting with Speech 1: The Icebreaker and finishing with Speech 10: Inspire your Audience.
Here is an example of what the fourth speech in the sequence is Speechcraft: Learning to Use Words Effectively.
Do I have to do all 10?
If you are a homeschooler, you complete what you want. At your own pace. What do you want to achieve with the course? And you can give credit for however much speech club that you do. Just keep track of your hours.
Define your goals and customize your plan
Doing all 10 speeches completes the Competent Communicator award, so it wraps up a unit and feels like completion. But it is difficult to complete in one year.
At the other end of the spectrum, pacing the first 10 speeches over a longer time allows you to become a more mature speaker, and you could easily do all 10 speeches over the course of high school. But do you want to take speech every year?
Looking at the middle of the road, doing 5 speeches in one year is a very workable plan.
Maybe 5 speeches is enough for your goals if you want to get some basic skills mastered in one year. Many of the kids in our Gavel club find that giving more than two or three speeches a semester pushes them too fast.
Remember, if you are using a Gavel club, the Toastmaster model has numerous speaking roles that you work on each time you meet in addition to just giving speeches. These other roles work on impromptu speaking, such as evaluating other speakers; or other types of prepared roles, such as Toast Master, which is a type of Master of Ceremonies.
Here’s what we did
My three sons have approached the same program differently.
The youngest is on the slow pace. He started in sixth grade, which is about as young as you want to start. He did the Icebreaker the second term. Then he did his second speech the next year. About one speech per year worked well for the first few years. He’s currently doubled his pace in high school, so he’ll be on track for finishing all 10 speeches by the time he’s a senior. Meanwhile, his speaking mechanics have improved dramatically from the impromptu practice over time.
Both of my older sons have completed their Competent Communicator. One son did it in half the time of the other. He found crafting the speech easy and wanted to go faster. My other son was the one who took the public speaking course through community college so that helped him finish up his speeches in Gavel Club.
We were trying to estimate how long a speech takes to prepare. Our best approximation is 10 to 15 hours—a few hours for outlining, writing & revising it and then several practices before giving it in club, especially as you advance into giving speeches without using your notes. There’s also a bit of germination time that you need to think about it, or practice it in your head. So it’s best to take start a week or two before a speech is due.
Customize your plan
How long does it take to write one six-minute speech?
According to speechinminutes, you need to write 780 words for a six-minute speech. That’s for an average talker. If you speak faster, you’ll need more words. So how long does it take to write 780 words?
According to Wordcounter, who is an experienced writer, a 700-word essay can take 2 hours and 20 minutes to write. The article lists his longest and shortest times ever to complete a 1000 word article: from 12 hours to 1 hour. Inexperienced writers will take longer. But they get faster as they practice.
Side note: With my youngest, who was a non-writer when he started, but who was amazingly good at speaking coherently without writing out the speech first, we started by outlining his speeches on note cards and just “keywording” what he wanted to say. I helped him a lot in the beginning. He can now outline and write up a speech by himself. He still talks without notes, though.
So say 3 hours for writing a speech.
How long does it take to practice?
The more practice, the more fluent the speech becomes. Generally, my kids will read through their speech a few times. By reading it aloud a number of times, much of the memorization happens. Each person is different – my guys range from ending up memorizing word-for-word to just remembering the key words on the outline and speaking from that.
After they read through it a few times, they’ll practice it by themselves for a while. Then they ask for an audience to practice in front of – a.k.a. me. I’ll give some tips and time them. They’ll work through any sticky spots and usually give one last run-through in front of me the morning of the speech. I recommend that they visualize giving the whole speech in their heads the night before they give it.
So all together, maybe another 7 hours of practice spread out over a week.
How long will you spend in “class?”
Our Gavel Club meetings last 1 hour and 15 minutes. We have 7 or 8 meetings per semester or 16 per year. If they go to all of the meetings, that’s 20 hours per year.
How long do other roles take?
Most of the other roles in a Gavel club have much less prep time, with the exceptions of Toastmaster and Topics Master. These roles take more effort but don’t need to be practiced ahead of time.
Both roles can be like writing a speech, but without the practice time – so 3 hours for researching a theme for the Toastmaster role and almost that much for figuring what questions to ask as the Topics Master. Remember, these are both more advanced roles – you wouldn’t do them until maybe the second term in a speech club – unless, of course, you start your own club and everyone is a beginner!
The other roles done at the meetings don’t require prep time, other than maybe reading how to do the role if you haven’t done it before.
We recommend 1 speech per 2 other roles minimum. You can do 1 and 1, but that can be challenging for your time. And it really isn’t fair to the rest of the club to only do speeches and never do the other roles. Or to yourself for that matter – the club is designed to help you improve your public speaking through many various opportunities.
- 5 speeches at 10 – 15 hours each = 50 – 75 hours
- 16 meetings at 1.25 hours each = 20 hours
- Total of 70 – 95 hours.
That’s what we did. We learned a lot and they all got high school credit for taking a speech club.
Here are articles about speeches and our high school speech club.