Welcome to first-ever Bridges Debate Class.
Are you nervous?
I haven’t taught debate before in this kind of setting.
What to Expect From Debate Class
If you’ve been in my speech class, you know I have a syllabus all laid out and several years experience teaching. This is going to be new to me too.
Therefore, I’m making no promises except to do my best to introduce you to two forms of Debate:
- Morality Debate (aka Lincoln Douglas Debate)
- Current Events Debate (aka Public Forum Debate)
Both of these are standard events that are shaped by the National Speech and Debate Association for high school debate in the United States. In fact, I’ve chosen two debate topics from their files for us to use in our classroom.
Why Debate Is Different From Speech
Speech class was based on a couple of premises:
- To introduce the student to their personal stage fright symptoms and to learn to recognize and overcome them.
- To instruct the student on the basics of speech construction and presentation.
I think we’ve done that very well, and certainly knowing what your body is likely to do to you when you step up in your first debate is important. But speaking skills are less prized in Debate. In fact, several things that I’ve taught – slow down, use vocal variety and stage skills – are utterly useless in Debate. We don’t perform in Debate. Almost half of the speaking time is technically reading aloud. Eye contact is prized only with the judge, not the rest of the audience.
Debate class is going to be focused on
- The creation of coherent, logical, reasoned, factual contentions into a constructive argument.
- The ability to follow the opposing argument with flowing.
- The recognition of the opposing debater’s arguments’ flaws and weaknesses and how to exploit them.
- Developing cross-examination skills.
- Presenting a persuasive conclusion to the judge.
And we have 15 weeks to do this.
Debate Class is EXTRA
When I’ve coached debate in the past, I had things going for me that I don’t have here.
First, I had an experienced coach who mentored me and coached the team. This coach, Jim Kellams, is still coaching Hoover High School’s debate teams and has taken numerous students to the Ohio state debate tournaments and to the National Debate tournaments. His website Everyday Debate gets thousands of hits per month. It’s one of the longest run and best debate websites out there. You’ll be visiting there.
Second, I had experienced debaters already in place when I joined the team. They coached me as much as I coached them. You’ll be meeting two of them as visiting professors.
Third, I had a lot more time with my debaters. We have 15 hours in this class over the semester: I had more than 15 hours of practice in my first month per school year.
This means you’re going to have to expect a significant amount of outside class assignments, including watching videos and likely staying longer after class. At least once, I’ll have a guest to help us out – but she can’t come on Mondays. Therefore, there will be online instruction that will be required. I hope to be able to record it and post it on Youtube or another website. Technology is a problem I’m going to face and you’ll be facing it with me.
In a recent discussion with some retired teachers, they both counseled me to consider flipping the classroom. I can produce videos, podcasts, assign Youtube videos, and generally do my instruction online. Then our time in the classroom will be spent with more actual debate time.
We’re going to give this try.
I need you as students and as parents to let me know how this is working. What doesn’t work. What’s great and what isn’t. I’m focused on making this class as productive as possible and I want to hear the negative as well as the positive comments.
Writing Class has been set as the prerequisite to this class. I expect students to be able to write a coherent 5 paragraph essay. If you or your student feels a bit under-prepared in those skills, they’re going to find this class a real challenge. I suggest that parents take time with their students to be confident in those skills before next week.
Every student will need
- 1 legal size pad of paper. Color is not important.
- 4 different color pens 0r 1 multi-color pen.
- Notebook for glossary and notes from debates. Pocket/binder is fine.
- Access to the internet, especially Google Drive and Youtube videos.
- Access to a printer.
- The usual equipment for note-taking in class.
There is no syllabus for this debate class.
There will be assignments every week posted here on RockSpeechClass.net.
All assignments will be done on Google Docs and submitted through that channel. I will post the links here for each assignment. The work can be completed offline and copied/pasted into the Google Form. It will be up to the student to be sure that the material has been properly submitted. Some of them will be images – taken with your cell-phone or tablet and uploaded – and others will be papers or outlines in a doc format.
The assignments, unless noted otherwise, are always due on the FRIDAY of the week of the assignment. That gives me the weekend to read the work and assign the grades. I have 10 students. I’m not going to be able to accept late work and deal with your work fairly. If this becomes an issue, I will take down the link to the assignment form on Friday nights so the work cannot be submitted late.
We are fortunate that this year’s State Tournament is in our backyard – at Jackson High School on March 1 and March 2. This event is open to the public and all events must permit visitors. You and your student should plan to attend at least a half day on March 1 afternoon or March 2 morning. I will provide more details at that time.
That same week, there will be a special Lincoln Douglas Debate hosted by the City Club of Cleveland. Two of the best Cuyahoga County debaters will be on the stage. If you’re willing to make the drive and pay the money, you can attend this event. I will be out of town at a conference, so go have fun without me and buy your tickets early. This event sells out early every year. Alternatively, WCPN (91.3) live streams the event.
I won’t make attending this event a required class activity. As it’s during our break, I can’t assign it. But it will be available online for later listening – I’ll post the link and give extra credit to any student who submits a flow of the debate.
We Want to Have Fun
Of course we do. Impromptu speaking has been the best part of public speaking class. We do have some fun games to help build skills, but weekly games/speaking opportunities are not going to happen in the fun way we’ve had in the past. Wait for cross X training – you’re going to LOVE that.
Mrs. Krajci’s Annual Trip to Florida (yes, I cap all of those words because it’s an EVENT for me) starts on March 3. That’s our Spring Break week and I expect to be back in plenty of time… but I said that last year and was stuck in Florida due to a blizzard in the northeast US. If I am stranded again, our class will be canceled that day unless I have access to technology, which I can’t guarantee. You’ll know in plenty of time.
Contacting me is easy:
Home phone: 234-678-7589
Cell phone 330-232-1839
Texts are not ideal. I don’t check them often enough and will likely miss them.