Speech and Debate


Speech and Debate Curriculum written with 5th through 8th graders in mind.

  • There are 14 lessons total; 7 for speech and 7 for debate.
  • At one lesson a week, the curriculum could be completed in one semester.
  • The course could instead be completed over the course of a year if each assignment is done in-class between each teacher-led lesson. This would then stretch the curriculum to last 28 weeks.

This Speech and Debate Curriculum consists of five color PDFs, including 1) an Introduction with Lesson Plans, 2) Handouts including a vocabulary quiz and glossary, 3) Pages for a Speech Class Student Notebook, 4) Pages for a Debate Class Student Notebook, and 5) a Debate Flow Chart.

The only additional requirements are a writing utensil and Internet access to view online speeches.

For more information, scroll down below.

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These Speech and Debate Lesson Plans were created and first used by Marie MacPherson. Below is her introduction, along with a) objectives, b) material list (no additional books required), c) timeline, d) teaching tips, e) Speech and Debate Independent Study Option, and f) an overview of topics.


Public speaking and formal debate are as important now in our modern society as they were in ancient Greece and Rome. Excellent orators and critical thinkers will guide us into the future, influencing our government, communities, and families. How can today’s educators prepare students for these lofty tasks? This two-unit Speech and Debate curriculum, written with 5th-8th graders in mind, aims to do just that.

While personal experience is useful, you don’t need to be an expert speaker or debater to teach these lessons. Walk through the lessons with the students and engage them in conversation along the way.

While these lessons were written for use in a public school setting, Lutheran educators can discuss the spiritual and moral dimensions of the speeches and videos, rooted in God’s truth, implementing law and and letting the Gospel dominate, as needed.

Overall Speech and Debate Objectives:

The student will

  • learn and use vocabulary words associated with public speaking and formal debate.
  • grow in personal comfort speaking in public.
  • recognize and implement a wide-variety of vocal tools.
  • recognize and integrate rhetoric in writing and speech.
  • appreciate the impact that important speeches have had in shaping history.
  • write, sculpt, and share their own speeches in a variety styles.
  • develop the ability to recognize and avoid logically fallacies.
  • analyze public debates.
  • discover the importance of a variety of debating techniques.
  • stretch their thinking to consider both sides of an argument.
  • participate in several classroom debates.


  • handouts developed for this curriculum, labeled in each lesson
  • pencils
  • technology which allows internet videos


  • There are 14 lessons total; 7 for speech and 7 for debate.
  • At one lesson a week, the curriculum could be completed in one semester.
  • The course could instead be completed over the course of a year if each assignment is done in-class between each teacher-led lesson. This would then stretch the curriculum to last 28 weeks.

Teaching tips:

  • All the necessary handouts are provided in a separate PDF document. Print one master copy for your binder and remove pages to photocopy for students as necessary.
  • Some handouts are two per page so you can save paper when printing. Simply use a paper cutter to slice in half.
  • If you choose to do the assignments at the end of each lesson, as well as assess the final speech, a rubric is provided in the handouts. I suggest giving students the rubric for assessment at lesson two in the speech unit so they have plenty of time to craft their speech with your standards in mind. Note that since student speeches are only 1 paragraph long, be generous and encouraging as you assess.
  • Other options for assessment include grading student notebooks or having students keep a separate journal on speeches and debate they see or hear around them. You may also consider using the vocabulary quiz provided based on the vocabulary words in the curriculum. A glossary is provided with the handouts.
  • A course evaluation from students’ perspective is offered in the handouts. Use this as you plan for the future.
  • If your students are already very strong with paragraph building, work toward a five-paragraph speech for the final informational speech, rather than just one-paragraph.

Speech and Debate Independent Study Option:

Ideally, these lessons are taught by an instructor with at least a rudimentary knowledge of public speaking. However, if an instructor is not available to teach the student directly, many ideas can still be gleaned from the lesson plans and activities by a gifted student working independently.

Tips for a student-led unit without an instructor:

  • Unit 1, Lesson 1: Student should not interview another student, but rather practice crafting a speech of introduction about himself or herself. Student could give this speech at a future time or for the class or family later in the day.
  • Unit 1, Lessons 2-6: Student should practice reading the Aesop fable with the vocal tip. (Normally, the teacher would open with this activity. If the student is unsure of what the vocal tip means, check the Vocabulary Glossary.)
  • Student should clarify if the instructor would like the student to do the enrichment assignments, and if so, if the rubric will be used for assessment during Unit 1, Lesson 7.
  • Student should read the lesson plans and fill out the Student Notebook with the information. The lesson plans give answers for the questions in the Student Notebook within the lesson.
  • Student should watch the speeches online and do their best to identify the given vocal and rhetorical tools of the day.
  • Unit 2: Student should plan to read through the debate lessons and identify both the pros and cons of each argument, checking the Vocabulary Glossary, if needed.) The student should watch the debate videos and analyze as his or her ability permits. The student should discuss debate prompts with an adult later in the day.

Unit I: Speech– Unit Overview (7 weeks)

A. Vocal Tips:

  • Week 2. Volume
  • Week 3. Pause
  • Week 4. Articulation
  • Week 5. Pitch/Inflection
  • Week 6. Rate

B. Rhetorical Tools:

  • Week 2. Pathos
  • Week 3. Logos
  • Week 4. Ethos
  • Week 5. Structure: Repetition and Parallels
  • Week 6. Rules of Three and Allusions

C. Famous Speech in Context

D. Writing and Delivering Different Kinds of Speeches

  • Week 1. Informative
  • Week 2. Story
  • Week 3. Demonstration
  • Week 4. Persuasive
  • Week 5. Impromptu
  • Week 6. Dramatic Reading

E. Assignment

  • Week 1- choose topic
  • Week 2- research
  • Week 3-write
  • Week 4- edit
  • Week 5- rehearse
  • Week 6- memorize

Unit II: Debate– Unit Overview (7 weeks)

A. Logical Fallacies:

  • Week 2. Ad Hominem
  • Week 3. Red Herring
  • Week 4. Equivocation
  • Week 5. False Dichotomy/Bifurcation
  • Week 6. Straw Man

B. Debate In-Depth:

  • Week 2. Resolution and Definition
  • Week 3. Clash
  • Week 4. Value Cases
  • Week 5. Policy Cases
  • Week 6. Effective Questions

C. Debate in Context:

D. Crafting a Debate: Be it Resolved

  • Week 2. Resolved- Dogs are the best kind of pet.
  • Week 3. Resolved- Children’s bedtimes should be earlier.
  • Week 4. Resolved- Schools should educate during the entire year.
  • Week 5. Resolved- All museums should have free entrance./Graded on handwriting
  • Week 6. Resolved- The driving age should be changed.

E. Assignment: Seeing Both Sides of an Argument: Define first.

  • Week 1- All children should play a sport.
  • Week 2- Schools should have a dress code.
  • Week 3- The voting age should be increased.
  • Week 4- Children should not own cell phones.
  • Week 5- Schools should not require formal tests.
  • Week 6- Our family should go skiing during winter break.


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