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Secondary Debate

Curriculum Maps & Standards

Participation in debate can provide an opportunity for students to enhance their critical thinking and reasoning abilities. It also provides an environment where academic development and good communication skills are promoted and rewarded.  Beginning a debate program with young children in elementary or middle school can go a long way toward removing barriers to their participation in rigorous coursework. For more information about how you can start a debate program at your elementary or middle school, please email Leslie Robinett or Dan Ashbridge

Canyons School District Tournament Date

Secondary Debate Index

Adopted Curriculum






Professional Development

What is Debate?

Middle School Debate League  

Order and Purpose of the Speeches 


Teaching Debate

No experience is required, and we will be happy to provide professional development for anyone interested.  If you would like to schedule professional development, contact Leslie Robinett

All middle school coaches should plan on an orientation in August.  Other meetings will be scheduled after each district tournament. 

To access program rules, guidelines for students, lesson plans and evidence resources see:  

Utah Elementary & Middle School Debate Resources


Students will prepare an original speech that is meant to be informative, on a topic of their choice.  Attention should be paid to language, structure, and other elements of effective informative speeches.  Students should uses sources.  Speeches should be memorized.

20 minutes prep

4 minute Speech

Students are presented with a choice of three questions related to national and international current events. The student has 20 minutes to prepare a four-minute speech answering the selected question. Students may consult articles and evidence they gather prior to the contest, but may not use the Internet during preparation.  The league will agree on topic areas prior to tournaments

To support deeper research, around 5 current event topics will be chosen.  These topics are decided by the league.  Topics may change for every tournament.

In this one-on-one format, students debate a topic decided upon by the League. Topics are generally options voted upon by the NSDA.  Topics range from individual freedom versus the collective good to economic development versus environmental protection. Students may consult evidence gathered prior to the debate but may not use the Internet in round. An entire debate is roughly 35 minutes and consists of constructive speeches, rebuttals, and cross-examination.

Round Structure and Time Limits:

  • 1st Affirmative Constructive (1AC) – 4 minutes
  • Cross-Examination (CX) – 2 minutes
  • 1st Negative Contstructive (1NC) – 5 minutes
  • Cross-Examination (CX) – 2 minutes
  • 1st Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR) – 2 minutes
  • 1st Negative Rebuttal (1NR) 3 minutes
  • 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal (2AR) – 2 minutes         

Each debater has 2 minutes of preparation time

LD topics are chosen by the league, generally from the list of possible topics for the NSDA.  Occasionally the league may write an LD topic related to the policy topic.  Topics will change at least twice a year, but may change for every tournament.

A two-on-two debate that focuses on a policy question for the duration of the academic year, this format tests a student’s research, analytical, and delivery skills. Policy debate involves the proposal of a plan by the affirmative team to enact a policy, while the negative team offers reasons to reject that proposal. Throughout the debate, students have the opportunity to cross-examine one another. A judge or panel of judges determines the winner based on the arguments presented.

 Round Structure and Time Limits:

  • 1st Affirmative Constructive (1AC) – 5 minutes
  •  Cross-Examination – 2 minutes
  • 1st Negative Constructive (1NC) – 5 minutes
  •  Cross-Examination – 2 minutes
  • 2AC – 5 minutes
  • Cross-Examination – 2 minutes
  • 2NC – 5 minutes
  • Cross-Examination – 2 minutes
  • 1st Negative Rebuttal (1NR) – 3 minutes
  • 1st Affirmative Rebuttal (1AR) – 3 minutes
  • 2NR – 3 minutes
  • 2AR – 3 minutes          

Each team has three minutes of preparation time. Policy Debate Topic

Generally, the policy debate topic will be the topic as decided by the NFHS.  Utah Debate Coaches topic limits for novices will also serve as the basis for novice competitions, if not for all middle school debates.  Debaters are not limited to the arguments outlined by the UDCA for novices, but are limited to argument types (i.e. no kritiks in middle school debate).

6 – 8 minute speech in Middle School

4 minute speech in Elementary

Students deliver a self-written, 6-8minute speech on a topic of their choosing. Limited in their ability to quote words directly (less than 10% may be quoted), competitors craft an argument using evidence, logic, and emotional appeals. Topics range widely, and are persuasive in nature. The speech is delivered from memory. Cited, written copy of speech should be available for questions.