- Social Innovation Fellowship
The Rhode Island Urban Debate League has facilitated debate teams and competitions for local high school students for over a decade. We depend on a strong partnership between college student volunteers and teacher-coaches in the schools, many of whom have no formal debate training. While we receive some curricular support from the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, it became apparent during our time working with the league that we better resources for our instructors were essential if the League was to achieve its mission of increasing academic gains for our participants while simultaneously attracting more students to the activity. Over the past summer, Sophie Elsner and I wrote the "Teachers' Guide to Policy Debate," highlighting critical debate concepts, suggesting activities for keeping students engaged in the material throughout the year, and identifying practices that have proven to increase involvement in debate. Initial feedback from the project has been very positive, with teachers and volunteers alike indicating an increased comfort teaching debate materials and students demonstrating high-level debate skills early on in their debate careers.