Academic Enrichment Activities

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Middle School Debate League

To Contact This Program

YMCA Central Maryland

Bradley Alston

20 South Charles Street‚ Suite 600
Baltimore, MD 21201



Activity Description

The purpose of the afterschool YMCA Middle School Debate League activity at the YMCA of Central Maryland is to encourage participants to use information analytically and effectively through academic debate. An environment is created that allows students to research and analyze information and data to form persuasive arguments. The arguments are used in policy debates in which students learn to argue either side of policy proposals.

Number of Students Involved in This Activity: 85

Range of Student Ages: Eleven to fourteen years old

Duration of Activity: Over the school year. In addition‚ a select group attends a summer institute.

Relevant Contextual or Demographic Information: Inner-city school is engaged.

Academic ContentWhat is the academic content of this activity? Literacy
Participants use research skills to read and analyze policies. Students formulate and write policy arguments.

Strong RelationshipsHow does this activity create strong relationships?
Participants debate policies in pairs as well as in whole teams‚ developing whole team skill building. The middle school participants also have the opportunity to interface with members of the high school debate league‚ who serve as guest coaches. Participants also work with forensics college students‚ who serve as debate judges.

Decision MakingWhat opportunities are there for authentic decision making?
The main focus of the activity is choice-driven in that participants decide what arguments to use in the debate at hand. Ultimately‚ they decide what their stance is‚ having researched both sides. Although policy topics are chosen nationally (examples include legalization of drugs and gun control)‚ as an extra activity‚ participants choose a nonpolicy topic to debate at the end of the year.

Student LeadershipWhat student leadership opportunities are there?
The activity provides a variety of ways to develop leadership skills the participants can use beyond the program‚ including analytic skills and the ability to speak articulately about an issue. Participants have pursued leadership activities in school (e.g.‚ many students have become student council members) they had not engaged in prior to participating in this program activity.


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