We’ve all had those lovely, mature classes who sit at their tables for the last 10 minutes of class politely engaged in reflective chats about socially relevant reading material or how they can use their recent learning to help others . . . no? . . . Oh yeah, that was my description of the first few chapters of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. SO. We are all friends here, and we know that debate classes are different. They are filled with gifted and inquisitive kids who love to push the boundaries and strain against the structures that bind them. We are their coaches, and we (mostly) love it when they challenge the status quo and push the boundaries of traditional thought, but we also know that in order keep these beautiful minds engaged in our classes, we need to inject lots of challenging and competitive activities into our daily/weekly plans to keep them happy and busy so they don’t grab our gavels and use them to tap each other on the head. (Yeah, I said it, you know it’s true.) Having some quick little competitive games in mind (or possibly in that bottom drawer of your desk) can help keep you running “bell to bell” and meet the learning style of those competitive kids that you most want to attract to your debate team. Here are a few items that can prevent that rowdy cluster of backpackers from gathering at your door waiting like hounds to be released by the bell.
Finally, may you have many happy hours playing games with your kiddos. So often, I’ve found that even a few minutes of sitting down among my students engaged with them in constructive play pays many dividends. It helps me remember to see them as human beings in my care, it helps them see me as a gracious winner or loser. I’m reminded of a quote from my favorite sweater-wearing pedagogue, Fred Rogers, who said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Game: Debate Taboo
Game: Debate Would You Rather
Game: Pictionary for 2017-18 Policy Topic
Pro Tip: This is an unsolicited product recommendation for The Metagame. It is good for throwing in your bag and playing at a tournament while you’re waiting for results. History Buffs will enjoy it and it will enhance cultural literacy for your kids who need it (like all of them.)