Middle School Debate (MSPDP)


Session 1 – June 13-18

Session 2 – July 6-11

Session 3/SuperSession – July 31-August 7

The training prepares students for Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP) and Youth Public Debate Program (5th/6th grade leagues; the YPDP is a subset of the MSPDP). The Claremont Summer program is the only official instructional program in the MSPDP format. Any rules changes in the format are implemented and practiced in the summer sessions. In previous years, this included format changes regarding the length of rebuttal speeches, POI and heckling practices, and judging guides. Students attending Claremont Summer sessions learn and practice the new rules and argument techniques first.

The Claremont Summer program uses program/summer institute certification for all instructors. It is the only summer debate program to ensure quality instruction through certification.

The middle school sessions offer comprehensive instruction in public speaking, critical listening and note taking, speech organization and narrative structure, argumentation and refutation, and analytical reasoning. Eligible students are those entering the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades in Fall 2019.

DSCN0229The MSPDP program is an integrated part of the Public Debate Program. The PDP includes youth, middle school, high school (national and international), college, and community debating. In addition, the features of PDP debating were designed to enhance student critical thinking, oral communication, and argumentation skills necessary for outstanding academic achievement and career success. Students learn to apply their MSPDP debate training for professional communication opportunities – classroom discussion, interviewing, roundtable discussion, shared inquiry and focused brainstorming, and team management. In other words, PDP programming is designed to maximize student skills and achievement in the best professional communication practices for lifelong learning – it is not organized to teach a set of disposable tricks and tactics for temporary success in a specialized debate format. PDP debate training includes the most sophisticated argumentation techniques – the same used by undergraduate and graduate students in elite competition but explained with an age-appropriate vocabulary for ready adoption by younger students. The experience of thousands of successful Claremont Summer students is convincing testimony of the method.

“This was amazing. I loved it!”

“I learned more in a week that I did in a year of debating. Thanks!”

“I can’t believe how much I learned. Can’t wait for tournaments to start. Thanks and I will be back for all the sessions next summer.”

“I won a top speaker award at the national tournament because of what I learned during the summer.”

“This was so fun. Thank you Claremont Summer!”


General information about the middle school debate sessions

There are 3 middle school debate sessions.

Claremont Sumer is administered by the founders and directors of the Middle School Public Debate Program (MSPDP).

It is the only official instruction in the MSPDP model. All sessions use the MSPDP format.

It is a program of the Claremont Colleges Debate Union, centered at Claremont McKenna College. It is not administered by an outside group using the college as a summer conference site.

Each middle school session is appropriate for new and experienced middle school debaters. Each year, there are novice and advanced competitors at each of the middle school sessions.

Students may attend any or all sessions.

If a student attends more than one session, the student is placed in an accelerated track to build on learning from the earlier summer experience.

There is core instruction for students of all experience levels at all three middle school sessions but there are special features for each session.

Special features of the First Session

The first session will include more specialized exercises and training for new and less experienced debaters in a novice track. This involves additional public speaking, note taking, research, organization, and format training. New students still have the opportunity to participate in learning and debates with more experienced students but there is an additional primary debate work for them. The session is appropriate for advanced students and there are many included features for experienced debaters.

Special features of the Second Session

The second session offers comprehensive programming for new and advanced students. There are additional opportunities for elective courses for experienced students. Advanced debaters may choose from a set of small group instructional courses for more detailed and applied learning on sophisticated debate and argumentation/refutation techniques.

Special features of the Third Session

This is the summer Supersession. It offers comprehensive instruction for all students – it is appropriate for new and experienced debaters. What makes it a Supersession? It is a longer program, with additional instruction days. There are more practice debates. The session also includes a full summer debate championship tournament with team and individual awards.



Students learn the advanced public speaking, argumentation, and refutation tactics from the Speak Up! and Speak Out! textbooks by John Meany and Kate Shuster. Students will learn the rules, guidelines, best practices, and judging rubrics for MSPDP debating from the program founders and administrators. Students learn and practice any MSPDP new rules, rules changes, and rules clarifications first.

The summer program provides comprehensive debate training. Students receive small group instruction (4-1 student-faculty ratio) in public speaking, argumentation, refutation, dynamic format elements (Points of Information and argumentative heckling), and topic-based research and applied strategy and tactics. In addition, they participate in MSPDP-format debates critiqued by program/institute certified judges. There is optional/elective time for student-directed learning. Debaters have the opportunity to have all their questions answered at the end of each day in open forum sessions. They can also get a jump-start on the following day’s debate activities. The schedule for 2018 summer middle school debate programming will include the following:

Middle School Session 1 & 2

  • 18 hours of small group instruction
  • 8 rounds of debate
  • 12 hours of open forum/elective sessions

Pre-announced Topics for Middle School Session 1

  • All middle school students should wear uniforms.
  • Twitter should delete President Trump’s account.
  • The US should abolish the death penalty.
  • The US should abolish the Senate.

Pre-announced Topics for Middle School Session 2

  • The US should adopt a living wage for all workers.
  • Sports authorities should legalize performance-enhancing drugs.
  • The atomic bombing of Hiroshima was justified.
  • Boycott the Olympic Games!

Middle School Session 3 (SuperSession)

  • 28 hours of small group instruction
  • 12 rounds of debate (8 debates and a 4-round Summer Championship Tournament)
  • 16 hours of open forum/elective sessions

Pre-announced Topics for Middle School Session 3

  •  The US should support political assassination as a foreign policy tool.
  • The US Federal Government should not fund the arts.
  • Public college education should be free.
  • The US should adopt a national ID card.
  • The US should abolish the Senate.

Additional Benefits

All staff are MSPDP certified instructors and judges; the Claremont Summer programs are the only summer debate workshops with exclusive instruction from trained and certified staff/judges

• Students will be able to discuss opportunities for international debating, leadership training, school and community service projects, essay contests, and other Claremont educational outreach initiatives for middle school and high school students

• Study skills sessions are available during optional evening open forums, including essay writing, effective classroom discussion, and student club and organization leadership