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Forensics / Debate

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Speech and Debate
Forensics (Speech/Debate) Syllabus
Teacher: TBA
Assistant: Alyssa Lomier
Assistant: Suzanne Streeter
Assistant: Sierra teNyenhuis

Course Description:
Using a curriculum that focuses on the speaking and listening skills found in the new common core English-Language Arts standards, students will engage in communication in new ways as they compete with teams from across the city, state, and country. Within the realm of speech and debate you will have the opportunity to engage your mind by writing your own speeches in the platform events, act out your favorite story by performing an interpretative piece, speak your mind on relevant domestic and international issues in the limited prep events, or use your brain power to have a battle of the wits in the world of debate. No matter what interests you, we will find a way to bring out the exceptional speaker in you.

Earning A Grade:
Grades in the forensics class will be based upon three separate areas:
  1. Participation (60%)
  2. Productivity (20%)
  3. Performance (20%)

Each area will have separate requirements within them.

  1. Participation
    1. Students will be expected to attend a work session (during lunch or after school) for a minimum of one hour of work time per week. Each student will be responsible for personally checking in with Mr. Cummings to ensure that they receive credit for the week. Students may not make up previous weeks, or earn extra weeks by working extra hours during the week. However, extra time is a great way to get better at your event, and I’m always happy to see your smiling faces.
    2. Participation will also require students to actively recruit judges for the tournaments that we attend. Finding judges is incredibly simple. Just ask your mother, father, a sibling who is over the age of 19 and has graduated high school, friends who are over 19 and have graduated high school, a teacher, an administrator, a college student, etc… Virtually anyone over the age of 19 who has graduated high school is eligible to judge. For each tournament we attend we are responsible for attempting to bring judges, and with your help we will be able to fulfill that.
    3. The final requirement to receive a full participation credit is to be prepared to work in preparation for the state debate qualifier that will be held at Buchanan high school during the second semester. Students will be expected to help with preparation for the event, recruiting of adult volunteers to run the tournament, and finding and recruiting judges for the tournament. For this tournament students will NOT be allowed to ask teachers as I will personally be contacting them. I am hopeful that we will be able to solicit donations from the local community to help offset the cost of running the tournament. Please be prepared to help.
    4. Productivity
      1. In order to verify growth each speech student will be responsible for preparing at least two different events to compete with/perform. During the year there will be 5 checks for speech productivity. Students should be able to complete
        1. Completion of script/prep box
        2. 5 minutes of speech memorized
        3. Full speech memorized
        4. Blocking completed
        5. Full performance
  2. Debatestudents will be expected to show growth through the semester by providing multiple drafts of their case. There are many steps to effective case writing that must be completed for both the affirmative and the negative side. (If a student is competing in LD they must do both cases. Partners in public forum may split the responsibility for cases). Each month that a new topic comes out students will be expected to follow the following schedule:
    1. Two weeks after topic is released students must provide an outline of their case (either via e-mail, or in person)
    2. Three weeks after the topic is released public forum students must provide a complete rough draft of the case for both sides, and LD students must provide a completed rough draft case for either the affirmative or the negative side.
    3. Four weeks after the topic is released the Students must have complete cases that integrate coach feedback from rough drafts.
    4. Students will compete in practice rounds during which other students will provide feedback about case, and presentation.
  3. All students will be expected to perform in front of the class. This is a crucial way to get past your public speaking fears, and to better engage yourself in your performance. If you can perform in front of people you know, then performing in front of strangers you hardly know will be a snap!
  4. Performance
    1. The final part of your grade will come from performance. In order to earn full credit you will be required to compete in at least two tournaments each semester. This means you could compete at one debate tournament and one speech tournament, two speech tournaments, or two debate tournaments. However, I am sure that once you see how much fun the tournaments are, you will want to attend even more of them!
Information on the events:
There are three specific areas within Forensics/Speech, they are: Platforms, Interpretations, and Limited Preparation Events. Within each of these areas there are a number of different events; Platforms are created by the student, Interpretations are written by another and performed by the student and Limited Preparation is created by the student, off the top of their head within a limited timeframe. Debate, in any category, is an event that is initially prepared from research and current events, but blends the drama and the extemporaneous speaking. All are welcome to try!
    As you are writing your pieces, you must keep a copy of allinformation used while researching the topic, regardless of whether or not it is quoted material.  These must be included in your MLA Works Cited page.  Note that any script turned in without proper MLA format will not be allowed to compete.
    1. Original Oratory (O.O.)
      An original persuasive speech on a universal social problem. Student’s intent is to arouse a concern and to persuade the reader that there is a significant social ill that must be addressed immediately. The call to action comes from personal,community, state, national and world levels. Some example topics are:  “Apathetic Youth,” “Overmedicated Society,” “Ignorance is Bliss” or the “Blame Game.”
    2. Original Advocacy (O.A.)
      An original persuasive speech including the identification of a problem and the offer of a clear, concise legislative solution on a national or statewide problem.  Examples:  “Banning T-Shirt Slogans,” “Ending Tax Exemptions,” “Removal of the Insanity Defense,” or “Destroying the Power of Diplomatic Immunity.”
    3. Original Prose and Poetry (O.P.P)
      A memorized acting exercise written and performed by the performer.  This event is the culmination of both writing and acting; the student can create any story, one from personal experience, the next movie plot line … literally anything and then tell it to an audience within a ten minute timeline.
    4. Expository (EXPOS)
      An original speech that provides information to, rather than persuading, the audience, it is enhanced by the ability to use visual aids as well.  These speeches describe, clarify, illustrate, or define an object, idea, concept, or process.  Examples:  “Pez Dispensers,” “Cannibalism,” “Money,” “Time,” “Trash,” “Left-Handed People,” or “Kissing.”
    Once you have chosen your script, you must provide two copies for the coach.  The first copy is to be left completely blank; however, you must attach your introduction.  On the second copy, you must highlight all spoken words (no stage directions, no character cues, etc.) as well at attach a highlighted introduction. 
    1. DUO Interpretation (DUO)
      A ten- minute memorized acting exercise performed by two students, from a play, novel, or any piece of literature.  The event presents a single selection where each student may present one or more characters. There is no eye contact or touching allowed for any reason during the performance. Examples:  “My Sisters Keeper,” “Dud Wars,” or “Tundra Games.”
    2. Humorous Interpretation (H.I.)
      A ten- minute memorized presentation of a comic or entertaining selection of literature conveyed through character voices, movement, and facial expressions presented by the student.  Author’s intent may be manipulated within reason.  The purpose is to make people laugh.  Examples:  “Snow Sort of White,”  “Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss,”  “I Hate My Sister,” or “No More Mr. Funny Guy.”
    3. Dramatic Interpretation (D.I.)
      A ten- minute memorized presentation of a serious or contemplative selection of literature conveyed through character voices, movement, and facial expressions from the student.
      Examples:  “The Skin Game,” “For Colored Girls…Rainbow Is Enough by N. Shange” or “Bein’
    There is a (7) minutes maximum for the student to speak, but speakers will be allotted 30 minutes to prepare their speech. Speakers should analyze the topic adequately, after having been given a choice of three different topics, they are to choose one and then prepare to present.
    1. National Extemporaneous (N.X.)
      Everything deals with National issues.*Some areas or current events may overlap.  Example:  War with Iraq(FX:  How are the people of Iraqdealing with the invasion of American Troops?) or (NX:  How does the American Public view the war with Iraq?)
    2. International Extemporaneous (I.X.) or (F.X.)
      Everything deals with International issues.
    The debate events are separated in a way that provides all students the opportunity to participate in an event that makes the most sense for them. Whether you want to fly solo in the philosophical world of Lincoln-Douglas Debate, or partner up to battle through the Public Forum or Parliamentary Debate ranks, there’s definitely a debate event for you.
    1. Lincoln-Douglas Debate
      With a heavy focus on philosophical quandaries, Lincoln-Douglas is the sole style of debate that allows competitors to work independently. Cases focus on upholding a value within a debate (i.e. justice, morality, equality). Competitors will use evidence to support their claims, and ultimately achieve their value within the round in order to receive the win.
    2. Public Forum Debate
      Public Forum Debate was designed as a more casual style of debate in light of the overwhelmingly evidence-based world of policy. In Public Forum speaking time is minimal, but the opportunity to have an impact is high. Students write new cases each month on current event topics. Using a weighing mechanism, students prove how they better fulfill their case within the round.
Tournament Expectations
  1. Arrive on time to all tournaments. For local tournaments this will almost always be 7:00am. If you are running late you MUST contact me (prior to 7:00am), failure to do so will result in being dropped from the tournament.
    1. Non-local tournaments requiring the use of buses or vans may leave earlier or later.
    2. Dress appropriately and professionally.
      1. Gentlemen, a basic traditional suit is best, but dress slacks with a dress shirt and tie are also “ok”. Pants should not be baggy or hang low on the hips. Shoes should also be appropriate to the outfit.
      2. Ladies, appropriate means a skirt or dress (knee length!) or nice pair of dress slacks, with a blouse or button up dress shirt. A blazer or cardigan must be worn if your blouse does not have sleeves. Dress shoes should be worn. Heels are acceptable as long as you can walk in them.
      3. We will discuss outfits more before the first tournament.
      4. Bring all necessary materials
      5. Compete in every scheduled round
      6. DO NOT leave campus until you have been given permission at the end of the tournament
Voluntary Donations
  1. Entry fees for local tournaments add up to thousands of dollars each year. In order to help pay for these fees, each student is asked to make a one-time donation of $50.00 to offset competition cost.  Donations would be appreciated at the beginning of the year (prior to the first tournament). This money is used to pay for entry into local tournaments for the school year and membership in the National Speech and Debate Association. 
  2. There may be an opportunity to attend invitation tournaments outside of our league. These tournaments are not required. Invitational tournaments are expensive and students wishing to attend may be asked to pay part of or the entire cost of the tournament. Cost for these tournaments in the past has ranged from $150-$300.
  3. The state and national tournaments are also non-required tournaments. Should a student qualify for these tournaments the cost to attend will be disbursed amongst all qualifying students. In the past the state tournament has cost $350-$500, and the national tournament has cost $1,200-$2,000 (plane ticket, hotels for a week, entry fees, transportation, etc.)
You should never let money be a reason for not attending a tournament; we can always work something out. If you have difficulty in paying any of the fees, please let me know.

Fundraising is necessary in order to cover tournament expenses. Each member will participate in fundraising events. Should students wish to “buy out” of participating in fundraisers, an option will be provided. We are always looking for sponsors for the team. If you know anyone that would like to be involved in bettering your education please let Mr. Cummings know.
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