STUDENT ACADEMIC PREPARATION GUIDE
2021 Claremont Debate and Leadership Communication Institutes
The CDLI is the most comprehensive, sophisticated, and innovative instructional program of its type. It is the only officially sanctioned summer program instruction for the Middle School Public Debate Program and High School Public Debate Program. The middle school debate institutes use the Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP), a proprietary debate format developed by John Meany and Kate Shuster. The national high school institute uses the High School Public Debate Program (HSPDP) format. John Meany developed the HSPDP model.
John Meany has developed leadership and professional communication programs and conferences for educational institutions, non-profit organizations, businesses, and government agencies in the US and abroad. The leadership/professional communication program uses these instructional and practice methods, adapted for the summer institute.
More than 800,000 students and teachers in 36 countries participate in Public Debate Program middle school and high school class critical thinking activities and contest debate events.
One of the important elements of Claremont Summer is the expectation that students PREPARE to participate. There may be exceptions (students involved in other summer academic and athletic programs, family travel, etc.) But students should make their best effort to prepare. Although a student’s inability to prepare will not interfere with success in the summer program, advanced preparation gives students the opportunity to participate in the program in a more efficient manner. They will be able to maximize their opportunities, move ahead at an advanced pace.
PUBLIC SPEAKING PREPARATION
FOR MIDDLE/HIGH STUDENTS IN ALL PROGRAMS
(Appropriate for students new to summer program events)
Students should practice public speaking, about 2-3 minutes for a practice performance, initially on issues that are personally important and well known. Select the topic and deliver an extemporaneous speech (limited preparation on a research-based topic, from 1 hour to up to a day for research before speech delivery) or an impromptu delivery (from 60-90 seconds of preparation time to as much as 30 minutes of preparation time before speech delivery). Challenge yourself with different topics when you feel that you might be able to deliver a more convincing, persuasive speech than the first one.
Try to use the A-R-E method for argument development. Assertion-Reasoning-Evidence. An assertion is a brief and clearly expressed claim or opinion. The reasoning is an explanation or justification of the opinion. Reasoning explains why an opinion makes sense. Evidence is the experience, observation, or researched fact that supports one’s reasoning. Evidence proves that an opinion is more right than wrong. It is based on facts, rather than speculation or a guesstimate.
During summer programming, all debate and leadership communication students will learn the comprehensive argument method created by John Meany decades ago and subsequently refined as A-R-E-S-R, Assertion-Reasoning-Evidence-Significance-Result.
Video your practice speeches. Practice the same speech several times. After the fourth or fifth presentation, examine the first and most recent video to identify strengths and weaknesses. Communication strengths include eye contact, confidence, volume, alteration in pace (avoid a monotone), emphasis of key words, and appropriate, integrated gestures. Core weaknesses include too much reading of a text, limited or exaggerated movement (no hand/arm movement or pacing, rocking back-and-forth or side-to-side), reduced volume at the end of sentences or paragraphs, and too similar tone and pace for the entire delivery.
As practice improves, select more challenging topics, practice more impromptu than extemporaneous speeches, and reduce the amount of preparation time before delivery. In general, a student should practice public speaking about 30-90 minutes each week to ensure effective, professional, competitive performance.
It is possible to use the topics listed here or substitute your own topics.
Middle School Speech Topics
- The least favorite things about school
- My favorite thing to do on vacation
- The voting age should be lowered to the age of 16
- Soccer is the best sport
- Two things I would like to learn
- All middle schools should have school uniforms
High School Speech Topics
- The least favorite things about school
- My favorite thing to do on vacation
- Should the US military stay in Afghanistan?
- The US should elect the president by popular vote
- What is the most important issue facing the United States?
- Standardized testing does more good than harm
DEBATE PREPARATION – MIDDLE SCHOOL
If one has time, the best way to prepare is to research and discuss debates on the listed topics. During the program, students will research and prepare argument sets with staff and other students for debates. Students may use any research files, casebooks, dictionaries, and other reference materials for debates. For those new to debate, students will learn how to analyze a topic, conduct and organize research, and prepare files and casebooks. Novice debaters might have some information on topics but are not expected to have fully prepared to debate any of the topics.
Topics – Middle School Session 1
- All middle school students should wear uniforms.
- Relatives of top government officials should be ineligible for elective office.
- Facial recognition technology does more good than harm.
Topics – Middle School Session 2
- Twitter should not delete President Trump’s account.
- The US Federal Government should bailout the states.
- Viruses are alive.
Topics – Middle School Session 3 (SuperSession)
- It should be illegal to post known false information on digital and social media platforms.
- Defund the police.
- Lower the voting age to 16.
DEBATE PREPARATION – HIGH SCHOOL
The summer program uses pre-announced and impromptu debate topics.
To prepare for the institute, each student might research and organize materials for debates on the listed topics. Students will also conduct research, organize arguments, build cases and counterplans, and prepare with staff and other students for debates. Students may bring any research files, casebooks, dictionaries, and other reference materials for use for debates. For those new to debate, students will learn how to conduct and organize research and prepare files and casebooks during institute sessions. Novice debaters should have some information on topics but do not need the same preparation as experienced debaters. Students should research current events from major newspapers and other periodicals for impromptu debates.
Pre-announced Debate Topics – HSPDP Debate Session
- The US should re-write the Constitution every 25 years.
- The US should eliminate the unilateral pardon power of the President.
- The US should pay reparations for slavery.
There will be additional impromptu topics, selected from enduring ethical controversies and major current events.
HIGH SCHOOL LEADERSHIP/PROFESSIONAL COMMUNICATION & MIDDLE SCHOOL SCHOLARS PREPARATION
The CDLI provides training for effective communication in professional settings – leadership positions for student government, clubs, and organizations, participation in social and political activism, and success in interviews, internships, roundtable discussions, town hall meetings, academic conferences, and public debates.
The CDLI will offer the experience that students need to develop the required communication skills for educational and career success – the ability to identify problems, propose solutions, express vision, and motivate others. Through educational seminars, practice exercises, readings, roundtable discussions, case studies, negotiation games, decision groups, and a conference for high school students, students will learn the 3 I’sof highly effective leadership communication – Influencing, Implementing, and Innovating.
Students will research current events and organize for discussions and presentations on select topics.
Research & Resume
High school students should review daily newspapers and online news. In addition, they should read subject field documents, such as academic periodicals and online political reviews – a daily major newspaper (e.g., New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal); weekly national or international news periodicals (e.g., Time, The Washington Post Weekly, Economist, Newsweek); online current events reports (e.g., Google News), and additional specialized periodicals (e.g., Foreign Policy, Columbia Journalism Review, etc.)
Students should send a digital copy of their resume to the program at least one-week prior to arrival. Please send it to John Meany, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Middle school students should review current events, particularly about the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath.
High School Speech and Discussion Topics
- The US should substantially change its process of electing the president.
- Animals and inanimate objects should have standing to sue.
Middle School Speech and Discussion Topics
- Abolish the Electoral College.
- The US should adopt a year of mandatory national service for all students attending college.