Monthly Archives: May 2011

How Well Do You Know The Topic? An End of Year Quiz

After researching U.S. military presence for the last year, how well do you know the topic? Students have undoubtedly learned a great deal during the course of the season, but how much do they actually know about U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the topic countries? I thought it would be interesting to create a quiz and see where students stood. While some of the answers are more trivial than essential, the resulting quiz hopefully provides a good baseline for assessing how much you learned and how much you retained while researching the topic.

Two caveats:

  1. This quiz is divided into two parts, one about Afghanistan and the other about the other five topic countries. Since our team read an Afghanistan affirmative for the vast majority of the season, this was the area they were most familiar with.

  2. All of the answers are Googleable. I put together an answer key but this is more geared toward self-assessment than it is something to be formally graded.

So, how much do you know about the topic? Find out below the fold.

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New Free OCR Tool

Daniel Gaskell has recently released ScreenOCR, a front-end for the Tesseract engine that lets you instantly OCR anything visible on your screen with a single click. After playing around with it, ScreenOCR gets my official stamp of approval: it’s the easiest way yet to OCR text so that it can be copied into your debate template. The download is available online for free along with some suggestions for using the software. One hint that I’ll echo: make sure you zoom in so that the text is very large before using ScreenOCR. Once I figured this out, OCRing text from Google Books became a snap. Thanks to Daniel for making this software available to the debate community.

TOC Releases List Of 2011-2012 Qualifying Tournaments

The Tournament of Champions has released the list of approved qualifying tournaments in policy debate for the 2011-2012 season. Changes reflected in this year’s list include:

  • Meadows (NV) moved up from semifinals to quarterfinals
  • Scranton (PA) moved up from finals to semifinals
  • Stanford (CA) moved down from quarterfinals to semifinals
  • Capitol Classic (MD) added to finals
  • Heritage Hall (OK) added to finals
  • Georgetown (DC) replaces Georgetown Day School
  • Crestian/Pine Crest (FL) replaces Florida Blue Key
  • Marquette (WI) removed

The complete list of approved qualifying tournaments for policy debate is below the fold.

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2011 Disclosure Award

There hasn’t been the lead in discussion of the disclosure award this year that there was last year, which to me is ironic because I believe the graduating class last year did a much more thorough job of updating their wikis than several schools this year. Part of that may be that I found this year’s wiki to be more cluttered/disorganized than last years which was more bare bones imo.

So this year for the disclosure award I will be throwing in a twist. This year the award will go to a team who shows not only that they were committed to disclosure by putting up their arguments but also to the team who best comes up with a way to organize their wiki to make it easy to use.

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More TOC History: Octafinals Bid Tournaments Since 1996-1997

In order to qualify for the Tournament of Champions, debaters must earn bids at invitational tournaments by reaching the designated elimination round. The most competitive TOC qualifying tournaments award bids to all teams in the octafinals. Since the 1996-1997 season, the number of octafinals bid tournaments has remained between seven and ten: Greenhill, St. Mark’s, Glenbrooks, MBA, Emory, Harvard, and Berkeley have been mainstays while Wake Forest, Redlands, Stanford, Blake, and Michigan have spent at least one year on the list. Since that season, 37 schools have won at least one octafinals bid tournament with 20 schools winning more than one tournament and 16 schools winning at least one tournament in multiple seasons.

What school has won the most octafinals bid tournaments? How many teams have won multiple octafinals bid tournaments in the same season? Who holds the record for most octafinals bid wins in a career by a debater? The answers—as well as a complete listing of the winners and runners-up at every octafinals bid tournament held in the last 15 seasons—are below the fold.

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New Podcast Episode Covers TOC, Summer Institute Preparation

The 3NR Podcast is back with a new hour-long episode that is divided between two conversations: one looking back on this year’s Tournament of Champions and the other looking forward to summer institutes. Our TOC debriefing covers a lot of ground from the schedule to the judging pool to the class of 2011. The student-centered portion of the episode then puts the focus on preparing for summer institutes. What can students do to improve between now and the beginning of camp? How can students make a good impression on their lab leaders? Many tips (as well as a few warnings) are provided.

Interested? Head over to and download the new episode. If you haven’t done so already, you can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Announcing The 2011 Women's Debate Institute

There are too few women in debate. There is no shortage of potential explanations for this phenomenon-lack of female role models, difficulty in a confrontational learning environment, sexism in society, lower speaker points or even male students in the activity. While many have attempted to pinpoint the causes, there is a group I’ve been working with for several years that attempts to correct the imbalance between men and women in debate.

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Making Our Voices Heard: Public Discourse and High School Debate

When going through some old materials as part of an ongoing effort to construct an institutional history of the National Debate Coaches Association, I came across the following short piece from Alan Coverstone. The longtime debate coach at Montgomery Bell Academy, Coverstone wrote this article for the NDCA Newsletter in April of 2003. It is reprinted below the fold with the permission of the author.

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Paperless Discussion: How Does Your Squad Manage Its Files?

With the exception of a few early adopters, many high school debate teams have completed or will soon complete their first season of paperless debating. From a coaching perspective, one of the most difficult parts of the transition has been managing the distribution and organization of our squad’s files. Looking forward to next year, improving file management is at the top of my “to do” list. If you’ve made the paperless transition, how have you managed your squad’s files? What worked well? What didn’t work so well? Specifically:

  1. How do you organize the team’s file set? Is there a master or shared tub? Does each team have a private tub? What happens when students switch partnerships?
  2. Who is responsible for downfiling new updates? Are assignments completed before a tournament distributed as update files (like they would have been in the days of paper) or is the person completing the assignment responsible for updating the master file?
  3. How are highlighting responsibilities shared? Does each team highlight their “copy” of each file? Or are highlighted files shared between teams?
  4. How do you distribute new files? Via a dropbox? Via email? How do you prevent students from altering/deleting “master” files?
  5. How do you organize “core” (topic-agnostic) files like impact defense and critique answers? Does each team receive a “copy” of these files to highlight and organize? Or are they shared between all teams?

Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments—they are greatly appreciated.

Even More TOC Trivia: Non-Seniors in Elimination Rounds, Part 2

Can’t get enough TOC history? “More TOC Trivia: Non-Seniors in the Elimination Rounds Since 1995” prompted several questions that merited a follow-up. How many non-seniors have reached the final round of the TOC? The semifinals? How have they done as seniors? Who has won the most elimination rounds at the TOC? The answers (again, since 1995) are below the fold.

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