Our most important curriculum resource with the most information available is our Debate in a Box curriculum folder. Please start there!


Our evidence for the year that students will read and use during each debate and at each debate tournament can be found in our Core Files.



Ten Steps to Tournament One: Get your debaters ready for a tournament in four weeks with this detailed, step-by-step handout.

Checklist for Tournament One – all the steps you need to take to be ready for the first tournament in October.

This is a set of First Meeting Activities that have proven to be effective in interesting students in, and introducing them to, debate.

Here is a sample calendar with activities and lesson plans for your first 20 practices of the season. Feel free to use and adapt as a starting point.

Recruitment Documents

Squad Objectives

Successful CDL debate squads often establish Squad Objectives, to help plan, guide, and measure their success. We strongly encourage you to adapt this template, creating your own squad objectives, starting with the first meeting.

This great article on coaching confidence is recommended reading for coaches at all levels as they understand their role as coaches in an academic sport.


Coach Stipend Allocation System: District Schools

CDL Coach Stipend Allocation System explains the amount and timing of coach stipend loading into payroll for district high school coaches funded by CPS central office.

Coach Compensation and Incentives

The Chicago Debate Commission provides thousands of dollars in performance incentives and additional compensation to CDL coaches. Because CDL debate coaches are such a crucial factor in achieving the academic and social benefits that competitive academic debate brings to Chicago Public School students, the CDC and its sponsors devote significant resources to rewarding high-performing debate coaches. For more information about the FY2017 Coach Incentive Forms, click here.

Coach Tax Information Form

All CDL coaches — district, charter, guest school — are required to submit aW9 to the Chicago Debate Commission each season in order to receive coach incentive payments and compensation for special tournaments.

Please complete the W9 and return it to so you are eligible to receive payments.


CDL Guidelines


The Qualitative Assessment Project (QAP) measures urban debaters’ understanding and performance of key elements of competitive academic debate, connecting urban debate more closely to academic learning objectives. The QAP assesses students’ performance against the Debater Development Benchmarks. Below are the assessment rubrics designated by experience level.

In Round Rubrics

Year One In-Round Rubric
Year Two In-Round Rubric
Year Three or Four In-Round Rubric

Out of Round Rubrics
Out of Round Assessment Year 1
Out of Round Assessment Year 2
Out of Round Assessment Year 3/4


Demo Debate

The Atlanta Urban Debate League has produced a demo debate on this year’s education topic. Please note that these speech times are far shorter than in a normal debate, but this should help you get an idea for the feel of a debate.

Flowing & Refutation

There’s no real improvement in competitive academic debate that doesn’t start with the High School Flow Sheet & Middle School Flow Sheet. Teach your debaters the basics of flowing with this Powerpoint Presentation.

The basics of refutation are laid out in this Basic Refutation presentation. Teaching debaters refutation — direct response, clash, refutation when answering their opponents’ arguments — is perhaps the most important skill taught to debaters. 

  • Hold a mini-debate practice with this this document.
  • Hold a SPAR (SPontaneous ARgument) debate practice with this document.
  • Sometimes you need an activity to generate interaction, have fun and practice speaking. You always have the Hot Air Balloon Game.
  • The Blow Up Drill has debaters prepare negative block argumentation on an off-case issue, in response to a set of 2AC arguments that they have not seen before but that you provide.

Counter Plans

Prezi on Counterplans 

Topicality and Theory

Advanced Topicality Debating is a presentation outlining how effective topicality debating is done.

Thoroughbred Theory Blocks has a set of blocks on both sides of many of the key debate theory issues, and can be used as a round-ready resource, or a kind of text book on key theory issues.

Alternative Debate Styles

This powerpoint on Alternative Debate Styles explains how performative debate arguments are run and answered.

Debating Framework Arguments introduces the theory argument of the “framework” and explains how it is used in contemporary debate.

Paperless Debate Resources

Paperless Debate Templates are an intuitive way for debaters to digitize the debating process. Templates also allow for an efficient way to cut cards and organize files on a computer for in-round access.

Emory University Debate Camp  did a lecture on Paperless Debating.  

More information about paperless debate can be found here. 


Learning to Debate is a very concise manual for use in learning about policy debate.

Debate 101 is an instructional guide to everything you need to know about Policy Debate

Finding Your Voice, produced by the acclaimed Pittsburgh University Debate Union, is an excellent policy debate textbook, one that combines the fundamentals with currency and a high degree of practical usability.

Emory University’s Policy Debate Manual has been well-regarded for years as a beginning debate textbook.

Below are useful chapters from The National Association for Urban Debate Leagues’ manual Introduction to Debate Coaching.

The National Debate Coaches Association released some amazing materials! These are extremely helpful for growing a beginning team, making interactive lessons for your students, and becoming more familiar with debate overall.

NDCA resources include:

  • Textbooks
  • Lectures
  • Lessons and activities
  • Evidence on this year’s topic

The Bay Area Urban Debate League produced a textbook in 2010 – still relevant, other than topic discussion.