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Starting the Whole Heart Debate Club
(by Kristy Lindvall)

Chapter 2 - Preparation for the Journey

I phoned and had a wonderfully encouraging, and enlightening conversation with Denise. That was probably in September, 2006. Then Ray e-mailed me with references to the CCNW website, and also put me on to the Stollar's books, "It Takes A Parent" and "Coaching Policy Debate". These tools were exactly what I needed to get our class started. The "Parent" book provided lesson plans for a beginner's group just starting to learn about debate. Ray also e-mailed me his lecture notes on the class he teaches in the Salem debate group every year. (Editors' Note: These notes have been upgraded to the "independent study" course materials described elsewhere on this site.) Another friend handed me a teacher's resource type book titled "Debate Skills", by Robert W. Paige, c. 2000, Mark Twain Media, Inc. and I had found "How To Debate" by Robert E. Dunbar at the library. Thus armed, I dove in.

Our class began in October. We had been meeting once a month for 4 months, then had an opportunity to attend a Round Robin practice debate in McMinnville as observers. I made it a "field trip" and had 5 students respond. At the debate we were warmly welcomed and encouraged to "just try it!". Everyone agreed that the first year of debate is basically a giant learning experience and we might as well just jump in and get started.

So, on our drive home I asked the kids if they'd be interested to "just try". I told them I thought they were capable, and that we should go with no other expectation than that we were going to come away knowing FAR more for having jumped in and done it.

Four kids responded, making two teams of very brave souls willing to give it a go. The four students and I met once a week for the next month or so and put together two different Affirmative cases. I let the kids pick the topics related to the resolution they were interested in. The one team of students had Teenpact experience as well. The fellow picked a topic I thought was rather harder than a first time debater should start with, but it was near and dear to his heart so his partner graciously agreed they went ahead with it.

Everyone read and researched on the internet about their topic and we outlined their speeches and divided up speaker parts. The last week before the debate round in February was given to practicing the speech, timing it, and editing out parts in order to get within the allotted 8 minutes for the constructive speeches. The kids and I were amazed that we ended up with MORE than 8 minutes' worth of speech! When you're starting out, 8 minutes sounds very daunting, but when you get right down to it the problem was staying within the 8 minute limit!