Speech Boot Camp is a video-based course for students to learn the skills of public speaking. The term “boot camp” implies an intensive process, and the original course upon which this video-course is based was definitely intensive. Students on the recorded sessions met for three-hour sessions, twice a week for two weeks─12 hours total. However, this video course spreads those sessions out over 11 sessions and recommends class sessions once a week. So the experience with the video course should be much less intensive than for the original group of students.
The video footage of the original class sessions has been edited to tighten it up, so the videos require much less than 12 hours to watch. You will add your own time for student presentations, so the 11 class sessions should run about an hour each.
The course consists of a set of four DVDs plus PDF files for Trainee Materials and Teacher’s Notes. Trainee Materials serve as handouts that will go in a binder for each student while Teacher’s Notes provide information for presenting the course. Purchasers of the course are given permission to print Trainee Materials for a family or class group. While you can use the course within your family, it is likely to work best in a group class situation where students can interact with each other and have an audience for their speeches.
Students learn the fundamental skills of public speaking, and they have opportunities to practice what they have learned as they present four particular speeches: self-introduction, narrative, descriptive, and persuasive. For each speech, the course teaches about that type of speech, provides video of students presenting speeches, and gives students time to present their own speeches and evaluate one another. In the filmed course, students had only one or a few days to prepare to present speeches, but using the video course lessons weekly allows students about two weeks to prepare for each speech.
Students will all complete a quarter-page size Speaker Evaluation Form for each classmate as they give their speeches. The teacher has a full-page, more-detailed Instructor’s Evaluation form to complete for each student.
The Trainee Materials include outline forms to help students create their speeches, and there are Feedback Homework forms for students to make notes based on feedback from others as well as what they have learned themselves.
Some of the students on the videos seem amazingly good at presenting from outlines as they are instructed to do in this course. I can’t help but wonder if many of them have learned that skill from Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) since both outlining and presenting from outlines are taught and used extensively in TWSS. While familiarity with TWSS should be very helpful, it is not a requirement. However, students really need to know how to organize their thoughts and create outlines. The forms included with the course will help, but Speech Boot Camp is not intended to teach outlining and basic paragraph structure.
Each student will need a three-ring binder with four tabs. In that binder, they will put their handouts (from the Trainee Materials), speeches in progress, completed speeches, and evaluation forms. In the evaluation section, you might supply four clear page protectors in which students can place the evaluations they receive from other students for each speech.
The person leading the class doesn’t need prior experience teaching public speaking since the teaching is done by Andrew Pudewa on the videos. Class sessions are self-explanatory although the Teacher’s Notes provide additional guidance. The classroom teacher primarily needs to organize and guide students through their presentations and evaluations. This makes it a fairly easy class to teach.
Students in the videos appear to range from about ages nine to fifteen, and the course seems appropriate for that wide span of ages. Older teens could use the course as well, although they might be put off by the fact that so many participants are younger. The course was created in 2010, although I’m not sure when it was actually filmed. (Some topics presented by students include what some students in 2020 or beyond will recognize as out-of-date information. For example, one student defends his preference for Apple computers rather than PCs by saying there are no viruses created that can attack Apple computers—something that is no longer true.)
Public speaking is daunting for many people, including most homeschooling parents. No matter the teacher's level of confidence, Speech Boot Camp makes it easy to provide students with well-structured opportunities to learn about public speaking and improve their skills.