Eastside Academic Studies


Competitive Team Policy Debate Class & Club

Teacher: Robin Axelberd
Date/Time: Monday - 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM
Room: Youth Room
Department: Other
DOE Number: 23.046
Grade Level: High School (9th-12th)
Maximum Enrollment: 16

Class Information

This class is for both novice and intermediate debate students and is geared toward high school students, though middle school students are welcome.  Students will learn the basics of argumentation and debate theory with the goal of competing at tournaments.

Policy debate is a style of argumentation that follows a given format with rules such as timed speeches and cross-examinations as well as a judge (either a parent or someone from the community) who decides who wins the round. The yearly resolution for discussion involves current policies, typically of the United States Federal Government, regarding domestic and/or foreign affairs.

The “team” is two students who are paired together to work on their affirmative case and compete together at tournaments. Pairings are always easiest if you grab a friend and have them join with you! Alternatively, the coach will make every effort to match compatible students, with input from parents. Ideally partnerships will be made for the year but may not always be possible.

The first half of the year will be focused on basic debate terminology, theory, and skills, including stock issues, case-writing, affirmative & negative strategies, and cross-examination techniques. Furthermore, we will explore the topic area of the resolution. Students will have access to prepared cases (extra cost) or will write their own (or their team’s) affirmative case and negative briefs.

The 2023-2024 resolution is below. The 2024-2025 resolution will be announced in late May.

Resolved: The United States Federal Government should substantially reform its energy policy.

The second half of the year will be focused on exercising the skills that have been learned, including practice rounds in class to prepare for tournaments. After tournaments, we will discuss how affirmative cases and negative briefs can be improved or updated, new negative briefs that need to be written, etc. Students (and parents) are strongly encouraged to participate in (or attend and observe for younger students) at least two Atlanta-area tournaments.

*In class, and as time will allow, I will also cover the basics of several competitive speech events. I highly encourage debate students to participate in Extemporaneous speech, at the very least, as it strengthens their debate skills by having them research a current event topic, synthesize ideas, and communicate those ideas in a short amount of time.

Club Information and Tournaments

Students in this class will be a part of Dynamis Speech & Debate Club. Class time is really only one-half of the learning process. Attending tournaments and competing is where the true growth takes place. Imagine a football team who only practices and never plays a game. They may gain some skills, but it isn't until they are put to the test and play against other teams that they truly develop. They learn their weaknesses and areas to improve; they also get to appreciate their strengths. Tournaments provide the opportunity for students to build relationships among our club members and to be a part of a community with homeschool students across the nation. Parents, too!

But, tournaments take commitment from both the students AND the parents. Tournaments typically run all day Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Saturday. Students and parents are required to be at the tournament all day, every day of the tournament. In Georgia, a tournament is held roughly once every month from November-April. Additionally, tournaments are held nearby in Nashville, Montgomery, Huntsville and across the nation. Students are NOT required to attend every tournament, and teams can pick and choose which tournament to attend. 

For additional information on competitive speech and debate as well as Dynamis Speech & Debate club, please visit DynamisATL.club.

Mandatory for Parents:

By registering for this class, parents acknowledge and agree to the following:

  • Parents must agree with the Statement of Faith provided on the Stoa website.
  • Parents must attend an information session and a “tournament training” (dates and times to be determined)
  • Parents agree to have their student(s) participate in two tournaments during the year.
  • Parents MUST attend, supervise, and be available to judge at all tournaments their students attend, OR provide an adult (20+) who will fulfill those responsibilities.
  • A parent may be asked to attend club 2-3 times a year to help judge practice rounds. 

Tuition Fees:

My number one goal is to provide as many students as possible the skills, experiences, and benefits of competitive speech and debate. Like many extracurricular activities, competitive debate (and speech) has on-going costs, especially to participate in tournaments. Registration fees for one event (team policy) can run from $40-50, plus the cost of meals. Additional events (speech) have additional fees. Therefore, I keep tuition at a minimum. 

Tuition: $350. Payment may be divided between each semester, preferably one payment each semester. Tuition is paid directly to Dynamis Speech & Debate, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Discounts: Take 5% of each sibling enrolled in the course. Previous students may take $50 off the yearly tuition. Discounts can be combined. (One sibling who is a previous student $350-50=$300, less 5% = $285) 

Course Materials:

The Code of Debater PDF (free download to be provided).

Upside Down Debate by Isaiah and Betsy McPeak. Available from Amazon and other booksellers. 

A membership to Monument Publishing, an organization that yearly publishes materials related to the resolution. It also offers a catalog of other beneficial resources. Pricing is available at MonumentPublishing.com.  

Stoa Membership: Required to participate in tournaments. See StoaUSA.org for pricing and payment. You may wait to join until September.

Other materials: Other materials published relative to the year’s resolution will be required for novice debaters and strongly recommended for intermediate students. The price of these resources will range from $20-$100, some being shareable between family members and/or partners.

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