Judging a competition

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École Internationale de Montréal

Judges at the École Internationale de Montréal School Finals.

The 2012 Grand Finals judges

The 2012 Grand Finals judges (l. to r.) John Degen, Claudette Jaiko, Gaston Bellemare, Nicole Brossard, Karen Solie, Dionne Brand, and Dennis Lee.

École Internationale de Montréal School

Grading a poem as it is recited.

École Internationale de Montréal

Reciting in front of a microphone is good practice for the National Finals.

2011 National Finals judging panel

Estera Musiela, from R.H. King Academy in Scarborough, Ontario, recites 'Chicago' by Carl Sandburg, in front of the 2011 National Finals judging panel that included Dennis Lee, Diana Leblanc and Karen Solie.

École Internationale de Montréal School

The judging panel at the École Internationale de Montréal School Finals.

Cawthra Park Secondary School

The judging panel at the Cawthra Park Secondary School Finals.

2012 Grand Finals

2012 Grands Finals: The judges applaud. (l. to r.) John Degen, Claudette Jaiko, Gaston Bellemare, Nicole Brossard, and Pierre Nepveu.

École Internationale de Montréal

Some recitations make one really hear a poem for the first time.

 

Poetry In Voice judges assess the quality of student recitations by following the Poetry In Voice evaluation criteria.

Students perform before judges at the school contest and at the National Finals; online recitation videos are judged by panels of poets, writers, and performers.

JUDGING CLASSROOM CONTESTS

The teacher can serve as the sole judge for a classroom contest. Classroom contests must be judged according to Poetry In Voice criteria.

JUDGING SCHOOL CONTESTS

Remember that your judges must read the selected poems before the contest.

Choose Your Judges

  • 3 Performance Judges and 1 Accuracy Judge should be sufficient for school finals.
  • Appropriate judges might be area teachers, local poets, actors, professors, arts reporters, politicians, or members of the school board.
  • Judges should have some knowledge of poetry, but need not be experts.
  • Judges may not judge recitations of their own poems.
  • To avoid a possible conflict of interest, a judge should not be the teacher or coach of any of the competing students.
  • If students perform poems in French, there must also be a qualified French-language judge.
  • Don’t forget that you will also need a qualified French Accuracy Judge if students recite in French.

Prepare Your Judges for the Contest

Before the Contest:

  • Send the students’ selected poems to the judges ahead of time, printed out, so they are familiar with them and can assign consistent difficulty scores. 
  • Provide the judges with a schedule of how the contest will run. 
  • Send judges a copy of the Judge’s Guide.
  • Invite judges to ask questions or schedule an orientation session prior to the contest so all judges have consistent scoring advice.
  • Direct judges to the video examples on our website.
At the Contest:
  • Separate the judges from the rest of the audience. 
  • Seat the judges a few rows back from the stage so that they have a full view of the competition.
  • Judges may not interact with contestants or members of the audience before the end of the competition.
  • Judges may not convene to discuss their scores — they should rate recitations independently and then immediately pass their score sheets to the Tabulator(s). 
  • Judges may not revisit scores after they turn them in. 

Stay Organized with Our Checklists

1. A Checklist for Judging the Contest (for Teachers)

Make a list of judge candidates. You will need:

  • 3 Performance Judges (plus one or two francophone judges if students choose to recite in two languages)
  • 1 Accuracy Judge (plus one French Accuracy Judge if students choose to recite in two languages)
  • 1 Prompter
  • 1 or 2 Tabulators

Contact them and confirm that they will be available the day of your school contest.

At least one week before the school finals, be sure to send an information pack to your judges that includes:

Remind your judges that, before the contest, they must consider “level of difficulty” scores for each poem. 

Hold a meeting to explain how the contest works. Address the following points:

  • The responsibilities of each role (Performance Judges, Accuracy Judge(s), Prompter, Tabulators)
  • The number of rounds
  • The time allowed to mark recitations (about one minute)
  • The marking system (both for performance and for accuracy)
  • The fact that judges will not be able to review their marks, nor will they be allowed to discuss them with the other judges.

You may prefer to contact everyone by phone or by email.

Prepare a copy of all of the poems to be recited, in order of recitation, for the Prompter.

2. A Preparation Checklist for Judges

Consider if you may have a conflict of interest, which includes:

  • being the parent or relative of one of the students
  • being an alumnus of the school (Note: this only applies to the upper levels of the competition, where multiple schools are competing.)
  • having one's own poem recited at the contest.

If you have any questions about this, please ask your contest organizer.

Familiarize yourself with the evaluation criteria detailed in the scoring rubric.

Review the Teacher’s Guide to see how students are trained.

Review poems for competition (poems should be sent to you by organizer).

Consider “level of difficulty” scores for poems.

Ask organizer any questions you may have about process.

Attend any orientation the organizer may arrange.

3. A Checklist for the Accuracy Judge

Consider if you may have a conflict of interest, which include:

  • Being the relative of one of the contestants
  • Being the teacher of one of the contestants 
  • Being an alumnus of the represented school (Note: this only applies to the upper levels of the competition, where multiple schools are competing.)

If you have any questions about this, please ask your contest organizer.

Be sure to have a copy of all of the poems before the contest. The contest organizer will send them to you.

Take the time to review the Accuracy Score Sheet.

Take note of both how points are deducted and the minimum score for accuracy (1 point).

Work out a notation system that works for you.

            For example:

            X = a dropped word

            P = help from the prompter

            XX = a dropped line

            T = transposed words

Ask organizer any questions you may have about process.

Attend any orientation the organizer may arrange.

 


Please contact us at info@poetryinvoice.com if you have any questions.