Academics News

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Select the OAP That is Right for Your Students, Your School

By Luis Muñoz, Theater Director | Thursday, October 27, 2016 9:48 AM

Producing quality theatre begins by selecting plays of literary value and theatrical merit. The theatre teacher is responsible for choosing scripts worthy of the educational experience involved. If English students must study the best literature, so must theatre students and theatre audiences be exposed to the best dramaturgy. Theatre is a reflection of life. When students experience superior plays written by outstanding authors, they learn, through character exploration, of the physical, mental and emotional development of the human personality, of people’s motives, reactions, standards and ideals, all of which enriches the students’ lives and helps them gain poise, social understanding, self-awareness and self-esteem.

Plays worthy of presentation in secondary schools are plays which may be accorded a place in dramatic literature. Such plays are legitimate teaching tools for expanding the literary, theatrical and social horizons of the students, challenging the talents and artistic abilities of the participants and offering a vital and important message of social and redeeming value to the adolescent and adult community. Such plays help fulfill the objective of aesthetic education.

- “A Play for All Seasons”


It is important that you ask yourself a simple question when making play choices, and it’s not, “What?”  The question that really has an impact is, “Why?”  It is important to understand that the selection of material not only has an impact on your program but on theatre education as a whole. Are we doing this particular title to make a point, to satisfy a personal desire or to give our students a positive educational experience?

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Survey Details how Speech and Debate Bolsters Students’ Confidence

By Dr. J. Scott Baker, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin | Wednesday, September 21, 2016 9:37 AM

Regina Wells Jennings teaches at Jersey Village High School in Houston.  Colin Malinak teaches at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio.  Both Regina and Colin are young speech and debate coaches with a bright future leading their students in forensic competitions.  They are both exceptional coaches as well as human beings.  I know — I helped coach them in high school.

I don’t say this to take any credit in their success. Their accomplishments are about them, not anyone else.  I say this to provide two specific examples of former teens, unsure of their individuality and ability, who became leaders by finding their voice in interscholastic speech and debate activities.  Regina and Colin are not alone.

Through a 2015 national survey of speech and debate coaches, educators address multiple concepts regarding student development through participation; one of those issues is student confidence.  Texas coaches discuss benefits of confidence using terms such as “voice,” “ambition,” “self-advocacy” and “willingness to try new things.” Texas coaches reflect on how their students’ confidence grew through speech and debate experiences, just as it did for Regina and Colin.

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Journalism Round-Up: Information to Start the New School Year

By Jeanne Acton, Journalism and ILPC Director | Tuesday, August 23, 2016 11:19 AM

And just like that it’s 2016-17. It’s hard to believe how fast time flies. When I started at UIL in 2004, I was pregnant with my first child. This morning, I dropped Charlie off at middle school. Middle school. Crazy.

Time is flying, and so are journalism teachers. Your lives are crazy busy, and yet every year, you manage to inspire your students to create amazing media. I am in awe of you, and I suspect this year will be no different.

As we start the year, I wanted to make sure I give you all of the information you could possibly need or want (plus a little more).

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New School Year Starts with Changes in Speech and Debate

By Jana Riggins, Speech and Debate Director | Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:57 AM

Change. That’s often an overwhelming word teachers hear repeatedly when they reenter the school building after being gone for the summer months. Students show up for the first day of class and they feel the changes too. It’s not just the new clothes and supplies they may have purchased for school; there are new buildings, new teachers, new courses and bell schedules and always, new classroom procedures.

At UIL, you will find changes too. But rest assured, some things haven’t changed. The calendar for UIL speech competitions has not altered. Congress regional competitions are still Nov. 1-15, and the State Meet is Jan. 9-11. CX Districts still begin the first school day in January and end mid-February. CX State Meet is March 13-14, 2017 for Conference 1A-3A and March 17-18, 2017 for Conference 4A-6A at the University of Texas at Austin. Ignore superstition and book your hotel rooms now because the Capitol City is popular during spring break.

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Academic Team Gears Up for SACs

By Lauren Kelley, UIL Intern | Tuesday, August 23, 2016 10:38 AM

Each year, UIL hosts four Student Activity Conferences (SAC) to provide information to students, academic coordinators and coaches about contest preparation, demonstrations, performances and contest administration. The conferences feature lectures and presentations from UIL contest directors, college professors and high school teachers.

The SACs for 2016 are:

    Sept. 17 at West Texas A&M, Canyon
    Sept  24 at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi
    Oct  22 at the University of Texas at Austin
    Nov  5 at the University of Texas at Arlington

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Robotics State Championship in July ‘Exceeds’ Expectations

By Lauren Kelley, UIL Intern | Tuesday, August 23, 2016 9:57 AM

The first Robotics State Championship was held at Austin Convention Center in July.
The first Robotics State Championship was held at Austin Convention Center in July.

Photo by Photo by Chris Schmidt, Public Affairs Representative

Robots have not taken over the world yet — but they have entered UIL competition.

UIL hosted its first pilot Robotics State Championship in July at the Austin Convention Center.

“I expected we would have a good event, but it really exceeded my expectations in terms of how smoothly everything ran and just being a great experience for the participants,” STEM Activities Director David Trussell said. “I had a number of students and coaches tell me that they really appreciated what UIL is doing with the robotics program to help put a spotlight on the activity and encourage more schools to participate.”

UIL teamed up with FIRST robotics to provide two competitions for the meet: the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) and the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC).

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75 Students Named to 2016 All-State Journalism Staff

By | Tuesday, August 23, 2016 9:51 AM

Seventy-five students have been named to the 2016 All-State Journalism Staff. To qualify for the staff, students must have earned 50 points by participating and winning different journalism contests throughout the year. Students can earn points by participating in UIL invitational contests, UIL district, regional and state contests, as well as ILPC and similar type journalism contests.

2016 All-State Journalism Staff:

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Copy Editing Pilot FAQ

By Jeanne Acton, Journalism Director | Tuesday, January 19, 2016 12:02 PM

The Copy Editing Pilot test begins with the 2016 District Meet. I have received many questions regarding the new pilot contest. Hopefully, this FAQ will be helpful.

1. At what level will the Copy Editing Contest be available? It will be available only at the district level because it is a pilot. An invitational meet can choose to write a test and offer a contest, but the UIL office will not write invitational material.

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Finding Your Happy Place: Start of School Brings New Energy and New Material

By Jana Riggins, Speech and Debate Director | Tuesday, September 15, 2015 11:50 AM

Graham grins ear-to-ear as he gets ready to start his school career.
Graham grins ear-to-ear as he gets ready to start his school career.

Following an unexpected downpour of rain last evening causing me to linger long on my back porch – my personal “happy place” – to take in the sound, smell and satisfaction of refreshing nourishment for the earth, I was reminded of how the start of each school year refreshes us. The new creative lesson plans you’ve developed over the summer to engage your students. The fresh faces you see filing into your classroom, full of expectation for your course, and the joy of seeing former students who drop in for a hug and a quick catch-up visit with you. The back-to-routine schedule that actually does feel comfortable, even if you don’t enjoy hearing that early morning alarm.

If you’re having difficultly feeling invigorated by these scenarios, just take one look at the face of this kindergartener going to school for the first time…every single day for two full weeks this little red-headed guy would tell me with great enthusiasm and a huge grin exactly how many days it was until his very first day of school. He could hardly contain his excitement!

And, although you don’t teach the youngest of students, rest assured there are middle school and high school students just as anxious to return to your classroom, and especially to your speech team. The squad is “family.” It’s where acceptance is found. It’s where kids discover who they really are and where they find self-worth. It’s your team’s “happy place.”

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Kemp HS hosts UIL Academic Rush Party

By | Thursday, September 10, 2015 3:47 PM

Kemp High School recently pulled off a clever recruitment opportunity to build their UIL Academic Team. During the annual Meet the Teacher night, students and coaches teamed up to involve students in a unique recruitment effort.

At the front entrance of the school, they posted UIL information for all the academic contests on bi-folds, built by art classes. Four former UIL participants in their UIL t-shirts staffed the table. They answered questions, signed up interested students, handed out information about contests, as well as permission slips for travel for the UIL Student Activity Conference in Tyler.

Students were also given a UIL Contract to have parents signed that explained the degree of participation and commitment that the coaches expected from participants.

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