We first begin by teaching the fundamentals of debate to the students, utilizing techniques such as Jeopardy and trivia. Furthermore, everyday controversial topics the students are familiar with will be used as a way to stimulate the intellectual nature we believe is found within each student. As the year progresses, tournaments will be held between the students in order to allow them to showcase the skills and argumentative thoughts that they have fostered based on previous sessions. Experienced debaters within the Urban Debate League will oversee this competitive arena, ensuring the most education and skills are garnered from these debates.
Within the Tampa Debate League, students will be provided expert coaching in the basics of policy debate. Our staff is made up of Top 50 national debate teams that have all succeeded on the policy debate circuit. We will begin to introduce the students to the basics of argumentation, going over the key components of making a complete argument, stemming from the teachings of Aristotle.
In addition, we believe in the process of student interaction, not solely devoting the teaching to lectures and other traditional techniques implemented in the classroom. Debate is a hands-on activity, something that every student can engage in at the start. We will begin to introduce common topics that students have a stance in one way or another. Below is an example list of introductory questions that students and coaches will discuss:
Which sport is better: football or soccer?
Should cell phones be allowed in schools?
What is the best renewable energy source that the US should partake in?
Should all states legalize marijuana?
Should students be required to wear a school uniform?
Should Fast Food be Banned in the United States?
Using these questions as a springboard, students will then compete against one another, engaging in a substantive debate at the start. It is our belief that the best way to learn is through first-hand experience, allowing students to continually refine their skills.
Subsequently, the Tampa Debate League will introduce the basic tenants of effective research, a critical skill that also helps students with research papers and other assignments given in school. Research is another essential strength fostered by policy debate. While we do this, we will introduce the foundation of policy debate: a specific activity and format that is utilized by thousands of schools across the country. To maintain an interactive tenant we minimize lecturing, instead we will use various activities and games to keep the students engaged. For example, here is a sample Jeopardy game that will be implemented within our program: https://jeopardylabs.com/play/off-case-jeopardy.
Lessons will be no more than an hour, hosted weekly using Zoom or on a school campus. A typical lesson plan is as follows:
10:00 – discuss current events and the news from the previous day
10:05 – introduce the lesson topic of the day, such as the basic off-case positions found within policy debate
10:20 – break
10:25 – display the practice debate topics/questions of the day
10:30 – students prepare and research their speech
10:40 – mini-debates regarding the topics with judging and feedback from the whole group
11:00 – ending/closing remarks
WHAT IS POLICY DEBATE?
Policy debate is a competitive speech and argumentative activity that involves the proposal of a policy action that the government should take. Every year, debaters research and argue about the new topic that is proposed by the National Speech and Debate Association. For example, this year, the topic is "Resolved: The United States federal government should enact substantial criminal justice reform int he United States in one or more of the following: forensic science, policing, sentencing."
Students take turns arguing for the "Affirmative" side and the "Negative" side, switching sides and expanding on their intellectual horizons. A typical policy debate will last about 1.5 hours. Throughout the Tampa Debate League, we will teach the ideas and concepts that are needed to become a successful policy debater.
Our organization takes inspiration from national programs called “Urban Debate Leagues”. These are non-profit organizations that seek to help students succeed in college and their future careers by organizing and supporting competitive debate teams in schools across the country. To learn more about them, please visit https://urbandebate.org/.