Coach Cheat Sheet

Evidence Packets and Speech Templates: How to use

 COACH CHEAT SHEET: Preparing for a Debate Competition

Understanding DebateAble Debate Format

 Debate Teams {Coach Manual CH 4}

  • Every team is optimally composed of three debaters
  • If the number of kids in your group/club is not divisible by three, you may split kids into teams of two or four. This will not impact your debaters’ experience or scores.
  • Affirmative teams include 1A, 2A and 3A (and 4A). Negative teams include 1N, 2N and 3N (and 4N).

 Speech Order and Timing {Coach Manual CH 4 and 13}

Times listed show the maximum time allowed. There’s no direct scoring penalty for shorter presentations, although using the entire time allotted allows debaters to make fuller and more detailed arguments.




1A Affirmative Constructive*

1.30 or 2 minutes*

First Affirmative Speaker

1N Negative Constructive

2 minutes**

First Negative Speaker

2A Affirmative Constructive

2 minutes**

Second Affirmative Speaker

2N Negative Constructive

2 minutes**

Second Negative Speaker

3A. Affirmative Constructive

2 minutes**

Third Affirmative Speaker

3N Negative Constructive

2 minutes**

Third Negative Speaker

*OPTIONAL: 1A Refutation

30 seconds**

First Affirmative Speaker

*The 1A may reserve 30 seconds of speaking time to be used after the 3N to refute any of the preceding opposing arguments. If the time is reserved, there is no requirement that it be used.

**Speech timing for any competition may be modified based on the debate topic or time restrictions.

  • Speech Orders when two teams have different numbers of debaters can be found in Coach Manual CH 13.

Speaker Roles {Coach Manual CH 5}

  • Every debater creates and presents their own constructive argument addressing one or more of the claims.
    • The DebateAble format is aimed at upper elementary students and tailored to expand their argumentation, reasoning and speaking skills, while demonstrating a thorough understanding of the topic by presenting unique arguments for each claim.
  • Every debater on a team addresses the same claims but uses different pieces of evidence and reasoning to support those claims (which are laid out in the Evidence Packets/Speech Templates).
  • The role of the 1A (First Affirmative) is somewhat unique from the others in that the 1A:
  • Announces the resolution (the topic being argued).
  • Defines words within the resolution, when necessary.
  • May reserve 30 seconds to refute any opponent after the 3N’s argument.


Preparing Arguments

Argument organization {Coach Manual CH 6}

  • All DebateAble arguments start with a resolution (topic), followed by two or more claims on both sides of the resolution. For example, the resolution “All upper elementary students should be required to do homework” is supported on both sides by claims that refer to the impact of homework on “academic benefits,” “family life” and “non-academic benefits.”
  • Evidence Packets and Speech Templates are arranged to reflect that organization.

 Brainstorm the resolution {Debate Lesson 6}

Before reviewing the Evidence Packet, brainstorm the topic with debaters by asking them to come up with evidence for both sides, writing the ideas on a board so they can see how much they already know. Save this list! It will inspire your debaters and it may even contain evidence not in the packet that a debater wants to use.

 Evidence Packets: Review Contents {Coach Manual CH 6}

  • Each Evidence Packet contains all evidence needed to begin creating arguments. Debaters may also research, refer to the brainstorm or use personal experiences/observations for their evidence.
  • Distribute an Evidence Packet to each person and review as a group. Coach Manual CH 6 offers a few suggestions. Your goal is to make sure debaters understand and can explain each piece of evidence. If there are words they don’t know, use a dictionary or ask other students to define.
  • Suggest that debaters put their initials by any piece of evidence that they might like to argue to make sure more than one person doesn’t use the same piece of evidence.


Evidence Packets: Selecting Evidence {Coach Manual CH 8}

  • Distribute an Evidence Packet to each team for the evidence selection process.
  • If debaters are preparing both affirmative and negative arguments, have them start with affirmative. Otherwise, each team will prepare only the side they are arguing.
  • Use corresponding Speech Template as a guide to determine the number of pieces of evidence that each debater will select for each argument.
  • No two debaters on a single team should use the same piece of evidence.
  • Get started splitting the evidence up!
    • Beginning with the first claim, have the 1A (or 1N if only preparing one side) select a piece of evidence on the team Evidence Packet and put their initials next to it. Next, the 2A/2N will select a piece of evidence from that same claim and so on.
    • Moving to the second claim, use the same system but have the 2A/2N go first.
    • Continue throughout the Evidence Packet until evidence is distributed

 Speech Templates {Coach Manual CH 7 and 8}

  • Once debaters have selected evidence for their speeches, they may write, cut and paste or have someone else write each piece of evidence into the spaces labeled “Evidence.” Debaters may also modify evidence by putting all or part of it into their own words.
  • Next, debaters write their “Reasoning” following each piece of evidence in space provided. Remind them:
    • Reasoning does not simply restate evidence but should explain what it means, how it supports the claim and why it matters.
    • Use different reasoning sentence starters {Debate Lesson 3} to help to focus every argument.
    • Using examples from personal experience or observations to support your reasoning strengthen your arguments and demonstrate the you understand your argument.
  • Last, create an Attention Grabber. This is the hook meant to engage the judge and audience. An Attention Grabber can be pulled from one of the stronger arguments in a speech or from left field! It’s often most powerful when using a conversational tone, using the debater’s own words.
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