Programming support and activities constitute the bulk of our time and resources. Currently, the SDF's focus is on the development of an Urban Debate League for the Seattle Public Schools.
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- Support debate squads in all Seattle & Tacoma Public High Schools
- Sponsor debate tournaments and summer debate camps to offer competitive debate opportunities to students
- Offer "Debate Across the Curriculum" materials and training to Seattle teachers
Teachers and administrators love debate because it:
* Enhances literacy skills
* Motivates students with a competitive format
* Provides opportunities for student-led learning
* Gives students exposure to post-secondary education and scholarships
* Enriches the in-school and after-school academic programming of the high school
Debate gives students the leg up by:
* Increasing critical and analytical thinking skills
* Promoting written and oral communication skills
* Sharpening research and computer skills
* Improving confidence in public speaking
* Teaching students to present their views effectively and resolve conflict with their intellect rather than with physical aggression
* Providing scholarship opportunities to attend four-year colleges and universities
The Debate Format
The Seattle & Tacoma Urban Debate League employ the team policy debate format.
In policy debate, students formulate specific solutions to a policy problem of national importance. Teams of two students debate the national high school topic with each tournament. Students conduct research and prepare extensively prior to tournaments, where judges render decision based on the evidence presented and the quality of argumentation. Teams argue both the affirmative and negative sides fo the same topic and must be prepared to address and refute the opposing side's evidence.
* Summer Institute scholarships at University of Washington and other national institutes
* Tournaments with trophies during school year
* Professional development workshops
* Regional, national, and international opportunities to compete
* Promotion of debate in Seattle & Tacoma, including mentoring at middle school debate programs and public demonstration debates
Curricular and Extra-curricular Support
Curricular support. In the Seattle & Tacoma Public Schools, individual schools have considerable leeway as to what types of elective classes they will offer each semester. Several principals have already chosen to use their discretion to authorize debate classes that will be taught as curricular electives under their school's language arts departments.
The SDF will provide support materials and instruction for Seattle & Tacoma Public Schools staff assisting in debate instruction and coaching, whether that instruction occurs on a curricular or extra-curricular effort. This will include:
- Recruiting a network of volunteers and mentors to support high school debate programs.
- Recruiting efforts to fill and maintain curricular and extra-curricular debate programs at target high schools.
A working textbook and curricular program, in consultation with the University of Vermont, University of Washington, University of Pittsburg, public school teachers, and ALOUD (Associated Leaders of Urban Debate) for beginning and advanced debate instruction. Provision of this working textbook and curriculum to all participating teachers, and volunteers.
- Ongoing curricular support aiding teachers and mentors to use SDF-provided materials to their maximum effect.
- Teacher training workshops to ensure that programs aided by the SDF will become self-sustaining.
- Evaluate student response to debate instruction through social scientific measuring devices modeled on surveys distributed by the Tuscaloosa Debate League (TDL).
Staff development programs and seminars. These meetings provide an opportunity for teachers, mentors and SDF staff to share ideas and suggestions. The program director will use these meetings as one mechanism to measure, monitor, and support teacher involvement to ensure that the SDF is facilitating their efforts in the best possible way. In the summer the (at the Seattle Debate Institute) teacher training seminars will be run by Dr. Shanara Reid-Brinkley and Judy Butler.
Mentor training and placement programs. The SDF benefits from an in-place network of more than 300 volunteers willing and able to mentor students and beginning debate programs. The conducts training seminars and ongoing support for these volunteers, who will be in their assigned school for at least two hours every week.
Community outreach programs. Since students benefit most when they are exposed to a wide diversity of opinions and personalities, the SDF works to supplement its debate programs with speakers from the community who will talk to students about public policy issues related specifically to their research efforts and presentation concerns. These speakers will include political figures, university professors, business professionals, educators, artists, philanthropists, and grassroots organizers.
Tournaments. Many of the competitive benefits of policy debate come from the laboratory experience of the tournament, where students from different high schools compete against each other in an experiential learning process. The SDF sponsors and conducts tournaments every semester, providing quality judging, food and transportation. Each tournament culminates in an awards ceremony, where outstanding teams, individuals and schools will be recognized appropriately.
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Since the benefits of instruction in debate and public speaking should not be limited to those students who choose to sign up for debate classes or after-school programs, the SDF plans to spearhead an effort to teach debate and public speaking across the curriculum in the Seattle & Tacoma Public Schools. Teachers in classes as diverse as history and English as a second language have already expressed interest in consulting with the SDF to supplement their existing efforts. To this end, the SDF will:
- Generate interest among teachers and school administrators in the use of debate and public speaking as teaching tools in the classroom.
- Develop a bank of curriculum items to be used by interested teachers, and make this bank available to all teachers.
- Facilitate communication between interested teachers through training seminars and an Internet-based bulletin board for the exchange of ideas.
- Support teachers who choose to use debate and public speaking by making SDF staff and volunteers available to assist their in-class efforts.
- Evaluate student response to debate and public speaking curriculum items through social scientific measuring devices.
English as a Second Language. All high schools served by the Seattle Debate Foundation have ESL programs, usually only taught by one teacher-specialist. The SDF hopes to particularly support these classes, teachers, and students with its "Debate Across the Curriculum" initiative. Already, some ESL teachers have recognized that their students could uniquely benefit from debate and speaking instruction. Traditionally, ESL students suffer because they acquire technical mastery of the language but do not feel secure using English in a public forum. This renders these students doubly disadvnataged: as immigrants, they are not thoroughly conversant with American social norms and customs; as non-native speakers, they are often disenfranchised in situations requiring oral fluency and argumentation. The SDF hopes to remedy this disparity among Seattle's most disadvantaged students by teaching oral communication skills to non-native speakers of English.
Initial pilot programs in this unexplored area have met with tremendous success. In December of 2000, the SDF conducted a workshop for 200 students at Rainier Beach High School, 100 of which were ESL students. These students were trained in the technique and vocabulary of impromptu speaking. Each student, whose diverse backgrounds included Korean, Ethiopian, and Mexican, gave a brief persuasive speech on a topic of their choosing. The ESL instructor declared the unit to be a success, and asked the SDF to participate in monthly units in her six classes.
The SDF hopes to expand this initial liason to other high school ESL programs, using debate and oral communication instruction as a way to facilitate ESL instruction and communication between ESL teachers in the Seattle & Tacoma Public Schools. The SDF further hopes to develop curriculum items and ideas for ESL classes and teacher for future instruction.
How to Get Involved
* Coach debate at one of our high schools
* Judge at Debate tournaments
* Work with students in debate classrooms
* Volunteer at tournaments
* Make a financial contribution
* Promote league activities in your community
For more information, please
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