Debate is a powerful way to train your public speaking and argumentation skills. This class will teach the fundamentals of Lincoln-Douglass debate, which can be applied to other forms of debate as well. This class is for 7th and 8th grade students who want to learn how to speak well and present persuasive arguments and rebuttals.

Dates: Saturdays March 11, March 25, April 1, April 15, April 22, May 6, May 13

Time: 6:00–7:30pm

Location: Room N103, Gunn High School, 780 Arastradero Rd, Palo Alto, CA 94306

This class is for 7th and 8th grade students. Sign up here.


Frances Zhuang

Frances Zhuang is a junior at Palo Alto High School. She has competed in various forms of debate, including Congressional, Public Forum, and Lincoln-Douglas debate throughout high school. In Lincoln-Douglas, Frances is ranked in the top 30 among all debaters across the country. She has qualified to the Tournament of Champions, a competition between the nation’s best debaters, and was declared the champion of the University of Puget Sound tournament. She is a finalist at the Golden Desert Debate Tournament. Frances also has ample teaching experience, including three years instructing students in the art of speech and debate and two years of tutoring.

Course Outline

Lesson 1

  • Introduction to debate: what is it, and why should you do it?
  • Basics of Lincoln-Douglas: format (resolutions, speech times, case structuring, including value/value criterion), “flowing” 101, basics of argumentation, speaking style
  • Practice with the Basics of LD
  • Introduce the resolution and begin brainstorming arguments

Lesson 2

  • Research 101: Why it’s important and how to find the best evidence
  • How to use Verbatim
  • Examples of great and not-so-great research
  • Research time

Lesson 3

  • Case-writing workshop: Review case structure from lesson 1 and put the arguments from lesson 2 into a case.
  • Peer and teacher editing cases

Lesson 4

  • Quick refresher on the structure of LD Debate
  • Rebuttals and cross-examination: How to use them effectively
  • The importance of blocks
  • Argument generation and research drill: creating a classroom blockfile
  • (if time) Practice: group cross-ex drill

Lesson 5

  • Brief overview to judge adaptation
  • Rounds (truncated times)
  • Post-round discussion: what was good, and what could be improved for next time?

Lesson 6–7

  • More rounds and feedback

Note: there will be homework for each class

Class Photos