VERMONT DEBATE & FORENSICS LEAGUE

NEW FOR FALL 2013 VDFL ONLINE. FOR INFORMATION & COMPETITIONS PLEASE GO TO http://WWW.VDFLONLINE.ORG
 
What is the VDFL?

The Vermont Debate and Forensics League (VDFL) is an affiliate organization of the VPA organized some thirty years ago to stimulate an interest in and expand knowledge of the opportunities available to high school students in public speaking; to encourage interscholastic debate and individual speaking contests; and to promote the civic virtues of public discourse. In pursuing these objectives, the VDFL holds workshops, school sponsored competitions, and a state tournament for both Public Forum Debate as well as the eight individual public speaking events. 

Currently sixteen high schools are members of the VDFL giving their students the opportunity to participate in debate tournaments and to engage in a variety of public speaking events (forensics) which are instructive and challenging. Normally eight such tournaments are organized from October through January and held on either a Friday evening or Saturday. Fees are minimal as most costs are absorbed by the high school hosting the tournament. Transportation is the responsibility of each school as well as providing an adult advisor or coach.

 The VDFL is governed by the advisors and coaches of the debate and forensics programs as well as the bylaws and policies of the Vermont Principals' Association. Membership is by school and required for participation in the scheduled tournaments. Participating schools can affiliate with the National Forensics League. In addition to the Vermont Principals’ Association, VDFLactivities are supported by the Vermont Bar Association, the Vermont-NEA, and the Vermont State Department of Education.

 Watch for the next article which will describe the forensic events and public forum debate. In the meantime, feel free to contact Chris O’Donnell at chriso@cvuhs.org or at cod4477@yahoo.com for more information.

The Vermont Debate and Forensics League (VDFL) is an affiliate organization of the VPA organized some thirty years ago to stimulate an interest in and expand knowledge of the opportunities available to high school students in public speaking; to encourage interscholastic debate and individual speaking contests; and to promote the civic virtues of public discourse. In pursuing these objectives, the VDFL holds workshops, school sponsored competitions, and a state tournament for both Public Forum Debate as well as the eight individual public speaking events.
 


WHY DEBATE?

Interscholastic debate in Vermont took on a new look several years ago with a switch from the traditional policy debate to public forum debate with monthly topics of national interest.  Now the resolutions are focused on current issues such as Resolved:Allowing deep water offshore oil drilling is in the best interest of the United States; Resolved: Affirmative action to promote equal opportunity in the United States is justified; and Resolved:That merit pay based on student achievement should be a significant component of K-12 teacher compensation in United States public schools.

Academic Skills– Debate teaches or refines perhaps better than any other class or activity (atleast according to many experts and former participants)

  1. oral communication skills
  2. critical thinking skills
  3. logic and argumentation skills
  4. research skills
  5. listening and verbal retention skills
  6. note taking skills
  7. writing skills
  8. organization skills – written and verbal
  9. teamwork
  10. audience adaptation skills

Other Benefits

-poise and confidence

-interactions with students from other schools and, if desired, other states

-improved understanding of current events

-an activity on a college resume that has been proven to have more influence than any other by several studies

-the skills above, especially the first two, are the ones shown by several studies to be the most valued by corporate employer.

What’s Required?

  1. Support for a co-curricular program
    1. Recruitment of students
    2. Offer a time and place to meet
  2. A coach/advisor (teacher, parent, community member)
  3. Transportation arrangements (bus, parents, vans, etc.)
  4. The Vermont Debate and Forensics League annual dues of $50
  5. Let the VDFL know of your interest by contacting Chris O’Donnell at chriso@cvuhs.org

The Activities of the Vermont Debate and Forensics League

The VDFL sponsors two major public speaking activities for Vermont high school students.

Public Forum Debate is an oral communication advocacy exercise done with a partner.  Each team of two advocate either in favor of (PRO) or against (CON) a resolution by proposing three to four arguments supporting their position.  With these arguments laid out in opening speeches, each side chooses the most important arguments to defend or attack.  Using skills in cross-examination and the introduction of evidence, the debaters clarify, extend their own points,and expose weaknesses and/or contradictions in the opposition’s arguments.  Through a series of constructive and rebuttal speeches, the PRO and CON sides will, in thirty-five minutes, seek to persuade a citizen judge of the merits of their position.  Past topics have included:  Resolved:  Commercial airline pilots should be armed in the cockpit;  Resolved:  The death penalty should be abolished in America;  Resolved:  That Congress should repeal the No Child Left Behind Act.

The forensics (public speaking) events include eight activities.  They are the interpretation of prose, poetry, drama and duo interpretation, extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, original oratory, and radio announcing.  A tournament competition includes three rounds where students present to a judge who then awards a rank as well as points to each speaker which determines the top speakers in each category as well as the top teams.

In prose, poetry and drama, the students select a piece from an established, published author to recite, generally about three to five minutes in length.  Impromptu Speaking requires the student to select a short, broad topic from everyday life and present a two to three minute speech after one minute of preparation.  Extemporaneous Speaking gives the student thirty minutes of preparation time to develop a five to seven minute speech on a topic of current national or international interest.  Original Oratory requires the student to write and memorize a six to eight minute persuasive speech directed at having the audience take action. Radio Announcing involves a three minute presentation of news, sports,weather and a thirty second student written commercial.

More information is available about these activities from Chris O’Donnell at chriso@cvuhs.org or cod4477@yahoo.com

General Information about Debate and Public Speaking

            The interscholastic debate and public speaking program for high schools in Vermont is handled by the Vermont Debate and Forensics League (VDFL).  This group created in 1978 to promote interscholastic speech competition.  The VDFL conducts a full schedule of debate and public speaking tournaments hosted by participating schools throughout Vermont during the fall and winter as a co-curricular activity.   Currently most secondary schools in Vermont treat forensics and debate as co-curricular activities.

VDFLActivities

            Each fall, the VDFL hosts an introductory workshop where interested students and teachers can see the events demonstrated by experienced students.  The forensics (public discussion/rhetoric) program begins in November with weekly tournaments held on either Friday afternoon/evening or Saturday morning.  Starting in December, high school debates are held regularly with students formally debating the national topic for that month.  Both the debate and forensics seasons conclude with the Vermont Principals' Association sanctioned tournaments at the State House in Montpelier where the top speakers and teams are crowned Vermont State champions.  Vermont is now in the process of forming a National Forensic League District, which will allow member schools to qualify students for the national competitions

Forensics Event Description

Public Forum Debate Outline

Frequently Asked Questions

VDFL Constitution

What is Public Forum Debate?

Public Forum Debate is essentially an oral communication advocacy exercise done with a partner.  Each team of two advocate either in favor of (PRO) or against (CON) a resolution by proposing three to four arguments supporting their position. With those arguments laid out in opening speeches, each side chooses the most important arguments to defend or attack.  Using skills in cross-examination and the introduction of evidence, the debaters clarify, extend their own points, and expose weaknesses and/or contradictions in the oppositions’ arguments.  Through a series of constructive and rebuttal speeches, the PRO and CON sides will, in thirty-five minutes, seek to persuade a citizen judge of the merits of their position.

Sample topics:

            Resolved:  Commercial airline pilots should be armed in the cockpit

            Resolved:  The death penalty should be abolished in America

            Resolved:  That Congress should repeal the No Child Left Behind Act

The benefits of debate are numerous. Some of the more important ones are:  1) the opportunity to demonstrate and improve oral and non-verbal communication skills; 2) to engage in controversy and learn to argue effectively; 3) to research current issues and expand one’s knowledge base; 4)to work collaboratively and learn to support a partner; 5) to think on one’s feet and learn to adapt with quick effective responses.

The citizen judges are drawn from a large talent pool including educators,legislators, people in the media, parents, non governmental staff, retirees,and policy makers.  Judges are asked to make their decisions on the basis of the analysis of the resolution,the evidence presented, the expansion of the arguments, and the debaters’ delivery and rebuttal skills.

Public Forum Debate does not seek solutions to problems.  It is not designed to replace policy debate.  Rather it is an exercise in competitive argumentation that offers students an opportunity to discuss current issues in a structured format.  This style of debate strives for a general audience who want to be entertained as well as to learn.

Forensics(public speaking)

The forensics program includes eight events. They are the interpretation of prose, poetry, drama and duo interpretation, extemporaneous and impromptu speaking, original oratory, and radio announcing.  A meet or tournament includes three rounds where students present to a judge, or in some cases judges.  Judges then award both a rank as well as points to each speaker thereby determining the top speakers in each category as well as the top teams.

In prose, poetry and drama, the students select a piece from an established and published author to recite, generally about three to five minutes in length.   Students are allowed to do selective cutting from their piece.   Impromptu Speaking requires the student to select a short, broad topic from everyday life and present a two to three minute speech after one minute of preparation. Topics might include learning to drive, my first dance, or buying clothes.  Extemporaneous Speaking gives the student thirty minutes of preparation time to develop a five-seven minute speech on a topic of current national or international interest.  The selection could include a ceiling on athletic salaries, gun control, or solving the Middle East dilemma.  Original Oratory requires the student to write and memorize a six to eight minute persuasive speech directed at having the audience take action. Abolishing grades or lowering the drinking age are good examples.  Radio Announcing involves a three minute presentation of news, sports, weather and a thirty second student written commercial.

TheVDFL Organization

The VDFL is governed by the advisors and coaches of the debate and forensics programs as well as the bylaws and policies of the Vermont Principals' Association. As the VDFL Constitution states, the group's purpose is to stimulate an interest in and expand knowledge of interscholastic speech competition,encourage the same, support workshop activities, promote school debate and forensics activities, and foster good sportsmanship among the members.

Membership is by school and required for participation in the scheduled tournaments.  The annual fee is fifty dollars.  Participating schools can affiliate with the National Forensics League, and coaches are encouraged to join the National High School Federation Interscholastic Speech, Debate and Theater Association.

VDFL activities are supported by the Vermont Bar Association, the Vermont-NEA, and the Vermont State Department of Education.

VDFL Officers

President  Chris O’Donnell, Champlain Valley Union H.S.

Vice President for Debate James Dixon, Hartford High School

Vice President for Forensics  Bill Klein, Lyndon Institute

Secretary  Bill Klein, Lyndon Institute

Treasurer  Megan Dixon

VPA Liaison Bob Johnson