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  • Bill Wu

Day Two - Argument Structure and Impact Tournament!

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

Hi everyone and welcome back for day two! We started off the day by focusing on improving improvisational speaking and fluidity by having students select a noun to talk about for one minute. We tallied up the amount of filler words such as "like," "um," or "uh," and whoever used the least we declared the winner! After the warm-up activity, we dove straight into a lecture about argument structure. We introduced the concept of an argument map, which built upon the structure of a claim, warrant, and impact that was taught yesterday. Students learned how to further reinforce their ideas by using evidence and reasoning in addition to visualizing the argument as a whole by physically "mapping" out their ideas.


Before we took a break for lunch, we introduced the practice of "weighing," or comparing arguments. To do this, we first started out with a round of "Would You Rather," where students were presented with two scenarios and had to choose which one they preferred, along with a justification why. By doing so, students learned how to compare two similar ideas yet differentiate and decide which one was better, diving into the nuances of making choices. This led into our introduction of impact calculus, the way in which debaters compare which impact is of greater consequence, using three metrics: magnitude, time frame, and probability.


After an action-filled lunch, complete with short games of Ninja and Mafia, we started the Impact Calculus Tournament. Students were given an impact, from global warming to a pandemic outbreak, and given time to do some research on their topics as well as give practice speeches to the instructors. After breaking into small groups in a single elimination tournament, students debated one another, eventually culminating in a semifinal and final round of debates that were presented in front of the class. After each round, students voted for who they thought were more persuasive and had a more perilous impact along with a justification of their decision. The final sets of debates were incredibly nuanced and educational, and eventually a winner emerged victorious.


Tomorrow, students will be introduced to the topic for the upcoming camp-wide tournament, as well as taught the structure of Public Forum debate. We hope everyone learned a lot, and will apply these newly-acquired skills in the many debates to come!

The finalists of the Impact Calculus Tournament shaking hands after a great debate!

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