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Debate has changed my life. A kid's perspective.  |  By Maggie Wyman
Gue st Writer Maggie Wyman is a debater and current  sixth grader who partici pated in DebateAble Clubs in 2015-2017, when she won a Tournament Team Award. Maggie wrote about her debate experience in a memoir assignment and we're honored that she's allowed us to share an excerpt of that piece with you.
There are all different kinds of tournaments; basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, spelling, hockey, football, running, slalom, ping pong, ballet or gymnastics. But when I hear the word "tournament" I think of debate.
When I am debating, I learn so much about the topic and how to look from a different side of an argument. I believe that my teammates are always counting on me and that I am really part of a team. I now realize that debate has changed my life.
I know that without debate I would not look at the world around me like I do now.  Debate has so many benefits: it helps you to speak in front of a group of people, learn how to look at two sides of an argument, it shows how to really grab what other people are talking about, think on your feet, keep your emotions in check, and will (surprising) increase your self confidence.
Debate is more about the team than the win, although debate is very competitive. In debate your team is like your family, you have this special bond with them that makes you a perfect team. I believe that my teammates are always counting on me and that I am part of that team. Everyone has their ups and downs. You know it, I know it. In debate, I feel that your team is there for you even when it gets really hard for you. This is why I love debate. Although in debate you need a lot of focus, your team will always encourage you to keep going.
Experiences can teach people different things. Debate taught me a lot. I am very thankful for my debate teacher Melanie and my dad for helping me debate. I also am very thankful for my wonderful teammates for making this happen. Debate has changed my life.
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Coach Corner
By DebateAble Coach  Melanie

Mutual respect is crucial to debate. Without it, there's no way to have a listening-learning conversation, and things can quickly devolve into an outright fight. But even for the most kind and well mannered person, discussing a difficult or controversial topic can cause tensions to rise and tempers to flare. That's why I provide ample opportunities for my debaters to do self assessments reflecting on ways in which they are listening well, not interrupting, and being a supportive teammate.

Throughout each debate session, I frequently ask the students to stop and think about if they are doing their best to behave respectfully, invite the students to provide feedback on how we are doing as a club, and offer positive feedback to one another. Additionally, all throughout the season, we play a variety games that help build camaraderie and trust which makes it easier to work with one another knowing that everyone is respected even when we disagree.

By working together as we do our club and self assessments, we can check our behavior frequently and catch ourselves long before our tempers can flare, and in this way we can continue to have some amazing listening and learning debates!

ZOOM.... ZIP.... ZAM. A Game.
By DebateAble Coach Xena
Debate teaches students to multitask by focusing on their own presentations while paying attention to what others are saying and doing at the same time! Coach Xena uses Zoom...Zip...Zam at her club meetings as a fun way to practice those skills, and warm up and energize her debaters!

1. Everyone stands in a circle, shoulders nearly touching.  Bodies calm, feet planted firmly.
2.  Start the ZOOM: One person starts by turning their head towards the person on their right or left, and saying "Zoom." Each person turns their head and says "Zoom" to the next one, passing the impulse like an electric current around the circle. 
3.  Do a practice run of ZOOM once around to make sure everyone understands how it's passed along.
4. Next, add ZIP: If the ZOOM comes to a student, they can stay facing that person and say "Zip" to change the direction of the current. When a debater is ZIPPED, they continue the ZOOM by turning their head and saying "Zoom." The ZOOM continues to be passed around, only changing directions when someone says "Zip." We only allow each person one ZIP per round to keep the current flowing.
5.  Finally, add ZAM: We don't start ZAM until after everyone shows that they can keep control of their bodies and stay silent when it's not their turn, focus on the ZOOM and not use weird voices or otherwise make their "Zoom" creative. To ZAM, we pass the current across the circle by making eye contact and pointing towards the person it is being passed to, and saying, "Zam!"  The person "catching" the ZAM then sends the ZOOM in either direction. We only allow one ZAM send per person.
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