Competitive Debate

6th grade & up


In this course, students will learn the skills and tools to persuade an audience of a novel concept or position on an existing issue. Students will discover new ways of researching and utilizing evidence to either prove or bolster a point with the end goal of changing an audience’s member’s opinion. This course will focus on teaching students not only how to effectively communicate, but also the necessary skills to maintain a high level of audience engagement through increasing their personability, clarity, and critical reasoning. Additionally, the latter half of this course will teach students how to defend a position from opposition. Students will critically analyze an opposing argument for weaknesses and compare the defended strengths of their position against the comparative weaknesses of an opposing position. Students will learn not only how to provide a convincing and persuasive argument, but also how to defend it from critical analysis while launching a critique of their own. Through these skills, students will hone their critical thinking, leadership, and persuasive speaking skills to become accomplish public speakers, influencers, and critical thinkers.



Syllabus and Schedule

First session on 11/13 Sat.

School year class: 12 weekly lessons in total. 1 lesson per week. 2 hours per lesson.

Summertime class: 10 consecutive lessons in total. 1 lesson per week. 2 hours per lesson.

Lesson 1

Thesis Selection – We will explore how a speaker’s passion can motivate audience engagement, and utilize our own passions to select an appropriate topic for our speeches, as well as a thematic thesis for our argumentation.

Lesson 2

Research and Evidence – We will explore what makes for the best source of evidence, in addition to the various types of rhetorical evidence styles. We will also learn how to identify the cause-and-effect relationships present in our topics.

Lesson 3

Building the narrative – We will focus on using what we’ve learned about our topics to drive the narrative we will construct for our audience.

Lesson 4

Solutions – No that we have better established the narrative of our argument and its internal cause and effect relationships, we can finally begin exploring and introducing potential solutions. We will learn the difference between direct action and indirect action and how to motivate an audience.

Lesson 5

Finishing Touches – We’ll explore ways in which we can solidify our speeches and make them more effective at communicating our ideas to our audience through the use of repetition, transitional phrases, visual aides, and established consistent themes.

Lesson 6

Presentations – Every member of the class will be afforded the opportunity to present their completed speeches for the whole class.

Lesson 7

Values and Value Criterions – In this class we will switch gears and begin exploring persuasive speaking as it applies to debate. We will explore the similarities between the structures of a debate case and the structures of a persuasive speech.

Lesson 8

Argumentation – We will explore the basic “claim, warrant, impact” structure of a debate argument and learn about the main forms that debate arguments take and how they can support or diminish a thesis.

Lesson 9

Cross-Examination – We will learn about the concept of Cross-Examination, in which we will utilize effective lines of questioning to destabilize and defeat our opponent’s arguments.

Lesson 10

Rebuttal – We will learn about the differences between a rebuttal and a counter-rebuttal, and how to defend our own arguments from attacks by our opponents, as well as how to attack an opponent’s arguments.

Lesson 11

Crystallization – We will discover ways to weigh the values of our cases against those of our opponents, and how to decide the victor in a debate. Additionally, we will learn how to utilize these weighing mechanisms to our advantage to ensure that we come out victorious.

Lesson 12

Practice Debates – We will conclude the course by holding practice debates in which we will combine and utilize the concepts we have learned about persuasive speaking and debate by holding class debates in which everyone will have the opportunity to write, defend, and argue a case that they have prepared.

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6th grade & up

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