MDTA - Minnesota Debate Teachers Association

Frequently Asked Questions

 
Are MDTA Awards given only to members, or are all teachers eligible?
 
 
Do you have to be an MDTA member to sign up for the New Teachers Workshop?
 
 
How can I get the password to change content on the site?
 
 
I am an MDTA member and can't seem to access the members only materials. What do I need to know?
 
 
I understand that the MDTA has a Foundation. What are the procedures for making a contribution or applying for a grant?
 
 
I would like to sponsor a debate invitational tournament. When would be a good date for a tournament and who should I contact with the information?
 
 
I would like to stage a debate in my classroom. What kinds of materials might I find helpful?
 
 
I would like to volunteer to serve on an MDTA committee or project. Whom do I contact?
 
 
I'd like to start a debate program in my district. Where do I begin?
 
 
Novice Case Limits: when and from whom may I get that information? Where do I get the Classic topics and the L-D topics?
 
 
What is Classic Debate?
 
 
What is Parliamentary Debate?
 

 
Are MDTA Awards given only to members, or are all teachers eligible?
There are two MDTA Awards: the Coach of the Year Award and the Distinguished Service Award. The Distinguished Service Award may be given to anyone who has provided exemplary service to debate. Although the current provisions for the Coach of the Year Award do not designate that the recipient must be an MDTA member, in practice they have been. For more information about these awards, please click on About MDTA.
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Do you have to be an MDTA member to sign up for the New Teachers Workshop?
No. The mission of the MDTA is to expand opportunities for students interested in curricular and co-curricular debate. The workshop focuses on beginning or returning teachers by providing step-by-step teaching activities for the classroom. Participants explore a variety of debate formats, interact with seasoned debate teachers, and get ideas for starting a debate team.
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How can I get the password to change content on the site?
The short answer is, you can't. Content submissions are welcomed, however. Simply send the submission as an attachment, e-mail content, or PDF file when you contact the MDTA or contact DJ Brynteson or Zach Prax for posting information.

We welcome your tournament summary information after your tournament to be posted and released to area newspapers.
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I am an MDTA member and can't seem to access the members only materials. What do I need to know?
You will need to know the login ID and password necessary to get into this portion of the site. Contact DJ Brynteson at rbrynteson@brynteson.info for this information.

Not sure if your membership is current? MDTA memberships extend from February 15th to the following February 15th. If you would like to become a member or renew your membership, please contact DJ Brynteson, MDTA Membership Chair.
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I understand that the MDTA has a Foundation. What are the procedures for making a contribution or applying for a grant?
Actually the MDTA has three funds: The MDTA Scholarship Fund, MDTA Endowment Fund, and MDTA Program Fund. All three funds are affiliated with Minnesota Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) public charity under the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions are welcomed. Specify the fund of choice, then mail your tax deductible gift to: Pat Perell, Executive Director, Minnesota Foundation, 600 Norwest Center, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.

To apply for a grant from the MDTA Funds, contact MDTA President Cort Sylvester [csylvester@halleland.com]. In preparing your application, provide a brief project description, anticipated outcomes, cost estimate, contact information for the project director, and completion date. MDTA Funds are not available for program operating expenses.
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I would like to sponsor a debate invitational tournament. When would be a good date for a tournament and who should I contact with the information?
Great! We are always looking for a variety of tournament events both on weekday evenings and on weekends. Please contact Mike Priem [mjp5@hotmail.com] at Mankato West High School.
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I would like to stage a debate in my classroom. What kinds of materials might I find helpful?
Any format that promotes a fair and organized clash of ideas, is faithful to ethical use of evidence, and communicates with the classroom audience can be used. There are many established formats available.

Publishers of classroom materials like Greenhaven Press offer ready-made booklets on significant current topics that provide opposing perspectives. Periodicals like Congressional Digest are designed in a pro-con format. Newspapers like USA Today frequently carry opposing viewpoints by prominent writers on the Opinion Page. And, there are any number of on-line sites that provide conflicting points of view on popular topics.

Consider using primary sources as well as secondary sources. Inteviews, diaries, government documents, school board proceedings, land use and zoning board deliberations, among other sources, may add interesting and authentic perspectives to the debate.

Beyond current topics, every classroom discipline provides a wealth of subjects involving values, policies, or facts that can be debated. Examples: Mathematics is the language of nature; The Greeks created order out of chaos; Christopher Columbus should be revered as a hero; There should be a bounty on wolves; Soft drinks should not be sold in schools; The Electoral College should be abolished; Our neighborhood is beautiful; We care too much; There should be mandatory drug testing of students; etc.
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I would like to volunteer to serve on an MDTA committee or project. Whom do I contact?
Wonderful! The biggest focus of the organization is clearly its outreach effort to attract and support new debate programs. Please contact MDTA President Cort Sylvester of Rosemount High School [csylvester@halleland.com].
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I'd like to start a debate program in my district. Where do I begin?
The MDTA provides many different tools to help new coaches. From our new teacher workshops in August to mentor programs throughout the year. For more infromation about either of these programs contact Cort Sylvester (current MDTA president) for more information.
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Novice Case Limits: when and from whom may I get that information? Where do I get the Classic topics and the L-D topics?
Novice Case Limits for the current national policy topic are decided annually in August and reported in The Last Rebuttal Newsletter and on this website. Gail Sarff is the chairperson for the Novice Case Limits Committee.

The Classic debate topics are also released at the end of summer and reported both in The Last Rebuttal Newsletter and on this website. For specific information about Classic Debate and topic selection, click Classroom Connect on the left side bar or contact Todd Hering at Eastview High School.

Lincoln-Douglas topics are announced throughout the year by the National Forensic League in The Rostrum. L-D topics are also reported in The Last Rebuttal Newsletter and on this website.
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What is Classic Debate?
Classic Debate is a new debate format spearheaded by Todd Hering of Eastview High School that refocuses debate on traditional skills of reasoning and persuasive speaking.

Classic Debate was designed to provide a clear alternative to the demands and excesses of policy debate. The intent is to offer an attractive opportunity for greater participation in debate.
For more information about the rationale, structure, resolutions, tournaments, teacher resources, and the Classic Debate League, click on Classroom Connect.
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What is Parliamentary Debate?
Parliamentary Debate is largely modeled after Canadian parliamentary debate. The affirmative side is called the Government and the negative side is called the Opposition. All remarks must be addressed to the Speaker of the House and not to anyone else.

Parliamentary Debate is distinguished from Policy, Lincoln-Douglas (Values) Debate, and Classic Debate by the lack of cross-examination and by a greater sense of style and reasoning over research and content.

There are three precepts of Parliamentary Debate: (1) The purpose of the debate is to convice an ordinary, neutral audience, thereby making delivery very important. (2) Parliamentary debate may involve only three or four major arguments, each with only one or two examples to support it. Further, many debates are decided by just one crucial point. (3) Finally, parliamentary debaters rely on logic rather than data to support their arguments.

For more information, access the Manitoba Speech and Debate Association website Parliamentary Debate. You may contact John Robinson at St. John's Ravenscourt School in Winnipeg (204) 477-2409. Additionally, Tom Kuster has shepherded parliamentary debate in Minnesota. Contact Tom at Bethany Lutheran College at (507) 344-7336.
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