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My mom, a debate coach for 7 years who has started two clubs (Ambassadors for Truth in IL, and IMPACT in MD which recently took 2nd at nationals) and coached many successful debaters recently lectured to Region IX on coaching. Here are some of her notes that some may find helpful:


Class Ideas: Teach by Topics, or Teach by a Book OR BOTH!!

1.     Teach by topics:

  • Resolutional Analysis
  • How to research
  • Logical fallacies
  • 4-point refutation
  • Evidence standards
  • How to write an affirmative case
  • Stock issues
  • How to prepare for the 2AC
  • Keeping the round on affirmative ground
  • How to write a negative brief
  • Negative philosophy/Negative arguments
  • Debate protocol/Tournament etiquette
  • The debate round
  • How to conduct cross examination (CX)
  • How to write a counterplan


2.     TEACH from a book.

An Accelerated Lesson Plan 

This schedule is for a class with beginner and advanced debaters combined using Christy Shipe’s Introduction to Argumentation and Debate:Have them read the whole book before class begins. Then you could do something like this ~

Week 1 in class:  TEACHING – Summarize Chapter One in 2 minutes. Go over the Toulmin Model from Chapter Two. Focus teaching on Evidence standards/Research from Chapter Three.

Assignment: 1. Write an argument in the Toulmin Model. 2. Block 2 pieces of evidence. 3. Give students a blocked piece of evidence for them to rebut in written form.

Week 2 in class: Have 1 student read their Toulmin Model argument. Have students (at least some) read blocked evidence. Let other students rebut orally.  

TEACHING – Affirmative Issues (Chapters 4,5)

Assignment: Write a 1AC. Use experienced students to give feedback and support prior to class next time.

Week 3in class: Have one beginning and one experienced student read their 1ACs for the class. Give oral feedback for all class to hear.
TEACHING – Negative Issues. (Chapter 6) Be sure to emphasize developing a negative philosophy, not just shotgunning arguments. Show how to challenge each stock issue.

Assignment: Swap 1ACs that were due at this meeting. Write out an outline of a negative philosophy and key arguments against the 1AC. Be ready to present your negative philosophy and arguments at the next meeting.

Week 4in class: Choose a beginning and an experienced student to present their negative philosophy and arguments.
TEACHING –  Chapters 7-9. Focus on preparing them to get up and debate.

Week 5 in class: Debate!!!!   

(I recommend a newbie and an experienced presenting in class so newbies will not be discouraged, but also see a higher level for which to aim.)

More class ideas:

  • Inside expert:  Advanced debaters with a passion/expertise in an area.
  • Outside expert:  Topic experts. Indian nationals to give background.
  • Run either full or cut-time debates.
  • Run only constructives.
  • Group CX.
  • Debrief tournament.

Seven Keys To Starting a Club:

1.    Dependence on the Lord (Psalm 127:1)

2.    Focus on the Goal:  Learning to Communicate Truth

3.    Mentors

4.    Resources:  Make sure they focus on why, not just on what.

NCFCA has a resource list: http://www.ncfca.org/resources/books_and_materials

Some beginning books (not perfect resources, but can be used as tools):

Speech: As I Was Saying by Thane Rehn

Policy Debate:  Introduction to Argumentation and Debate by Christy Shipe  

Value Debate:  Philosophy in Practice: Understanding Value Debate  by R. Eric Barnes

5.     Leadership:  A. Join with others of like mind.

                             B. Be willing to grow in leadership.

6.    Parental Involvement

7.      Focus on Training Students: Don’t let administration and conflict take over the real mission of teaching students to communicate.

Miscellaneous Tips:

Enough is enough!!

I’m going to share many teaching tools and ideas.

PLEASE don’t be overwhelmed. Just pick what you want to use.

My first year’s experience: I stayed one week ahead of my students, and had no parental support. Not recommended, but we did have a great year in many ways. Do the best you can, but don’t wait to start until everything is perfect.

Primary Problems

1.    Interpersonal Conflicts


  • Humility
  • Short accounts
  • Love covers offense
  • If you can’t overlook…..lovingly confront.
  • If you can’t work it out, seek help of coach or board.
  • Remember you are teaching your children how to solve problems.

         REFOCUS: When you feel overwhelmed with interpersonal conflicts, go watch some students give a speech, or go watch a debate. Or “remember” the transformation stories.

Transformation stories:                      Nathan Claycomb, Samantha Payne

2.    Lack of parental support


  • Communicate commitments clearly up front
  • Require written commitments to serve in club and at tournaments at point of registration
  • Give clear job descriptions of both tournament and club responsibilities.
  • Create and atmosphere of burden-sharing.
  • Discern gifts/abilities/strengths/weaknesses of parents.

Partnering Factors

~Aim for compatibility in commitment to debate.

Consider a questionnaire to help families determine compatibility:

1.     How many tournaments do you plan to attend?

2.     Which tournaments in our region to you plan to attend?

3.     Which tournaments out of our region to you plan to attend?

4.     Are you available to compete at Regionals if qualified?

5.     Are you available to compete at Nationals if qualified?

6.     How much experience do you have in debate?

7.     What are your strengths in debate?

8.     What are your weaknesses in debate?

9.     How many hours a day/week do you plan to spend on debate?

10.  Is debate part of your core curriculum or an extracurricular  activity for you?

11.  What other activities are you committed to this year?

12.  Do you work on weekends?

13.  How often would you want to get together to work on debate?

Take advantage of training for you and your students:


Classes at Nationals

Communicators for Christ

Debate camps

These opportunities will be emailed to you as they come up if you are an NCFCA affiliate.

Student Leadership

  • Wisdom: Don’t overburden students, but do let them serve.
  • Titles:  Students need titles such as Club President, Club Vice-President, Debate Captain, etc. to compare to their counterparts.


Videotape the new students getting up in the first class to introduce themselves. At the end of the semester when you showcase their speeches, show there “BEFORE” film clip first, and then you all will be amazed at their “AFTER.”

Counting Speech/Debate on a Transcript

Student Sample ~

10th:   Speech   1

          Debate   1

          Biology  ½ (Agricultural resolution: GMOs, organic farming, growth hormones and antibiotics in cows and poultry, farming practices, etc.)

11th:   English Composition: Research Paper   1  (Multiple 1ACs/Neg briefs) 

          Economics   1  (Trade policy resolution: Attended economics seminars and devoured numerous economics books, including Clarence B. Carson’s text titled Basic Economics and Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. Not only did Isaiah read many books on economics, but he used what he learned to form and argue cases on economic topics. Now that is true education!)

12th: Constitutional Issues    ½

         Rhetoric     1  (Wikipedia defines rhetoric as “the art or technique of persuasion through the use of spoken language.”) 

Sample ~

Social Studies: Immigration Policies   1   (Immigration policy year.) 

Be sure to keep hard copies of all of your student’s original work in speech and debate for his portfolio. This includes 1ACs, negative briefs, platform original scripts, theory articles, etc.

Character Issues

1.      Just expect them.

2.     DEAL with the character issue:

D –  Discipline   II Tim 3:16,17

E –  Explore solutions  (Talk to other parents.)

A –  Ask God for Wisdom and Transformation

L –   Love to Godliness: Your child must know that you are more committed to their training in godliness than you are to your or their appearance before others

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