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Students at an assembly.

Public Speaking at Dedham Country Day

Speaking Up and Speaking Often at DCD

Public speaking begins in pre-kindergarten, where every student has a role in the class play. In fact, every year, each grade performs a play, giving even our youngest students an opportunity to practice speaking publicly.

Delivering lines with inflection and feeling, they learn to speak up and speak out. Dramatic performances are just the beginning of public speaking for DCD students. From pre-K to grade 8, they present their ideas to their classmates daily, both formally and informally, and often play a central role in school-wide assemblies. Whether in front of a small classroom or a packed auditorium, DCD kids learn to use their voices and express their ideas with clarity and purpose.

A pre-k student presenting her project.


Pre-kindergarten students practice public speaking as they introduce their own hand-made, multicultural people to the entire school community. Beginning in early December, each member of the class spins the globe to choose a country of origin for their special friend. As these large puppets take shape from a variety of recycled materials, students choose professions, devise personalities, and research representative names and clothing. This favorite month-long project connects language arts, reading-readiness, math, art, social studies and, of course, public speaking!

A second grader speaking into a microphone.

Second Graders…

In social studies, second-graders focus on the indigenous cultures of North America and the geography of the United States. The goals of the social studies curriculum are for students to learn about the life, past and present, of different cultures of the indigenous people in North America and the English colonist and to become familiar with the fifty US states. During the all-school Thanksgiving Assembly, second graders present a recitation of the historical events leading up to the first Thanksgiving. To prepare for this event, they study the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World.

A fifth grader performing during class.

Fifth Graders…

Fifth-graders exercise their public-speaking skills in their oral storytelling production of The Odyssey. As they are wrapping up their unit on ancient Greece in social studies class, they are also learning about the tradition of oral storytelling in language arts. In a culminating year-end project, students are given a portion of the story and are required to give a dramatic rendition of Homer’s travels. Clad in chitons, students perform the story in front of an audience of parents and teachers.

An eighth grader standing at a podium getting ready to speak.

Eighth Graders…

In the fall of eighth grade, students participate in a special class called SmoothTalk, which is a component of DCD’s secondary-school-placement program. In this class, students go through many exercises that ask them to think deeply about themselves, their experiences in school, interests, passions, and challenges. They practice writing introspectively and interviewing in preparation for applying to secondary school. The culminating project for this class is to write and deliver a speech about a person or experience that has had a significant impact on them to an audience of classmates, parents, and faculty.