Polar Bear Open
2022 — Des Moines, IA/US
Friday Speech Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
I try to follow the NSDA's judging guidelines found here: Judge Training | National Speech & Debate Association (speechanddebate.org). Please take particular note of the videos on how to judge.
Notes on specific events:
Dramatic Interpretation: While interpretive events are judged to the best of my ability on their cutting, blocking, and characterization, I believe that depictions of violence against children are inappropriate in much that same manner that scatological or pornographic depictions would be inappropriate. Please try to avoid denigrating people with mental illness by stereotyping their behavior. I would really like to see some non-negative drama.
Public Forum: I need to be able to track your arguments if I'm going to give you credit for them. Signposting is essential in verbal speech. As it says in the video, an argument is not established without at least a warrant and impact, and arguments are given more weight when opponents fail to respond to them. Effective rebuttals are as important as strong arguments.
About me: I generally judge Congress, speech, and sometimes PF. In high school, I primarily did extemp (mostly international) and congress at the local, state, and national level.
In college/graduate school I studied political science and philosophy and I currently work in editing/journalism. When they come up, I can handle more theoretical/philosophical arguments, especially if they're more in the domain of political theory or IR theory. That being said I do like debating the intricacies of policy as well. This paradigm is generally tailored to Congress (which I judge most of the time) but much of it can be applied to extemp and PF.
Things I like:
- Clash is great. Call people out! Don't be afraid to get a bit aggressive especially if someone tries to pull a stunt but don't veer over into sheer meanness. Direct refutation is especially preferred, particularly if you can point out how someone misread an article by telling me what it actually says.
- Sources sources sources. Especially interesting or underutilized sources like think tanks that aren't Brookings, AEI, CFR, etc. Or interesting news sites like The Intercept or foreign news like Rudaw. Or interesting journals. One time someone cited the American Journal of Potato Research in a round and I almost died from happiness. Doing some digging for something off the beaten path a) shows you care enough to do deep research and b) leads into my next point...
- ...interesting and unique points! Don't let debate get repetitious and show me some interesting and unique ways that a bill may affect something that is unexpected. An example: did you know that investing in infrastructure in Afghanistan like highways or public transit may actually let rural terrorism become more mobile and nationwide in urban areas? Or that Tibetan freedom activists are trying to improve their cybersecurity efforts to remove an epidemic of Chinese malware? Stuff like that is great.
- Extemporaneity is also really good. I hate canned speeches because they really reduce the possibilities of debate and the ability to directly refute arguments. And it allows you to be a more dynamic and engaging speaker. I prefer when people speak with notes in Congress and PF -- it's more natural than a memorized speech.
- Impacts!!!! Lots of Congress I have seen lacks direct impacts and linking sources/arguments to them. Tell me why something matters as well as how it matters. Ultimately this is a DEBATE event, and you should reflect that in your rhetoric.
- Enunciation. Don't slur your words together. I understand speaking fast but you can do that without letting speech get mushy. Be crisp.
- POs: I love when POs have personalities even if they are kind of supposed to fade into the background. Make some puns and some observations! This goes for everyone else. I love a good joke or witty statement.
- Pronouns: This should definitely be a norm in speech and debate at this point. If you're in congress, give them while you're walking up to speak. If in PF/speech, give them to me/the team before round. I.e. "That's Representative Maxwell Fenton, school code JD. I use he/him/his pronouns."
Things I don't like:
- Don't be racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, classist etc. etc. Particularly avoid using slurs. If you get really offensive or get into a direct personal attack on someone I have no hesitation about ranking you the lowest possible score and if I know you, informing your coach of what you said.
- I hate when people judge or mention clothing on ballots and I won't dock you for not wearing a suit or whatever. I think people that do judge based on this are fundamentally classist (and maybe worse). That being said you should tuck in your shirt.
- If someone doesn't want to speak whatsoever don't push them to do it. They made the choice to show up and hang out for three hours while everyone else participated. Don't edit the docket because of this.
- Don't speak from your computer. Use a legal pad or notebook. It's super unwieldy and I'm always afraid someone will drop one.
- "Legislation" is a mass noun. There's no such thing as "a legislation," but there are such things as "pieces of legislation." Same with the word "economist" -- it's pronounced ee-KON-oh-mist, not the dreaded "eh-kon-OMM-ist." I have other word pet peeves like this but these are the big two I've seen in Congress/debate more generally.
- "Basic economics" is not evidence. Neither is "logic." Both of those things require sources and people disagree what they mean and how they matter.
- Repetition. One time I saw a Congress round where 10 people from the same school gave the same canned speeches on the No Child Left Behind Act with the same points, same sources, and same text. You will be ranked down if you rehash the same points over and over and over and over. See above for my love of interesting arguments and sources.
- Don't just sit there, particularly if you're in Congress. You're here for three hours. Give a speech or at least ask some questions.
- Disorganization. Give me a roadmap and an intro, and do the "walk" to split up your points visually as well as rhetorically.
- For intros, don't just say the subject and then move into the speech: i.e. "The national debt. I don't like it because...."
- If you're texting or Facebook messaging in round there's no way you're getting a decent rank. If you're using your phone to access sources because of a broken computer or something please tell me beforehand.
- "Are you aware...?" questions are loaded and stupid and demeans the intelligence of the speaker. Don't ask them. Same with questions that are essentially extended comments -- your statement should easily end in a question mark.
If you have any questions, just ask me when you get to round!
Last updated April 2023.
I am a theatre director with a long background in performance, writing, and directing. My area of expertise is interpretive categories.
When judging speeches and interp categories, I expect to see confident, well-prepared, thoughtful, and honest speakers. I enjoy performances and speeches filled with creativity, emphasis on communication, and a heartfelt, honest quality that can't really be put into words. For any interp piece, your flashy tech and blocking is cool, but don't forget to ACT and make me BELIEVE what you're saying and doing! Please note that I judge also on your selection of literature. Any content with sexist, racist, classist, or ableist overtones will be scored accordingly. Speeches and interpretations on pieces regarding these matters are incredibly important, of course, but we must always consider whose voice is being amplified, and what exactly we are trying to communicate. Be wise and considerate!
In extemp & impromptu, speak confidently and passionately. Make good eye contact. Address the prompt in impromptu without going on random tangents that don't tie in. In extemp, make it possible for a layperson to understand. I enjoy extemps that are kind and educational, not just filled with tons of confusing facts and jargon.
For info, the visual is important. Be creative, or at least be neat. Be funny and engaging, but don't forget to INFORM!!
For duo, I expect to see balance between partners, strong emotional content, and some interesting tech and blocking. Tell the story with heart!
For DI, I expect to see something that I believe. That's really all I'll say.
For POI, I want to see something new, fresh, and original. Binder tech is cool and everything, but what are you saying? Why are YOU saying it? Make me believe what you're doing and talking about.
For HI, be creative with characters, have clean pops, have great forward energy, use an appropriate script, and don't choose something that just bags on women or minorities. Let's do better, yeah?
For all other speech categories, this is a SPEECH contest. The writing of your piece is extremely important of course, but it is your DELIVERY that really brings it home!
Plain and simple: communicate. If you don't communicate with me and your audience, you missed your mark. I will do everything in my feedback to help you improve. I am not the kind of judge who will just destroy you with rude feedback (unless you are rude to me). Problematic content and jokes will be pointed out, I have zero tolerance for them (and I'm not talking about language, I'm talking about openly promoting oppression). My goal is to help you improve wherever you are at. If you're at nationals ready to hit the final stage, great. If you're just starting, all the more power to you. Everyone can get better at this activity.
If you desire more feedback, you may always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: I am always happy to provide additional feedback if desired (feel free to email me at email@example.com). Speech and debate is awesome, please stick with it if you’re reading this especially if you’re in Iowa. I'm committed to making speech and debate a safe and welcome space for everyone.
My promise to you as a judge is always giving you 100% of my attention and rendering decisions that I honestly believe in and can defend/justify.
Public Forum paradigm
[NATIONAL CIRCUIT ONLY — local competitors just do your best, your coach should’ve taught you how to win PF at a fundamental level, I give really extensive and constructive feedback]
Include me on the email chain (firstname.lastname@example.org). In national circuit varsity/bid PF rounds, send speech docs with cut cards ahead of (1) case & (2) all speeches where you read new evidence. (i.e. not a link to a google doc, not just the rhetoric, etc.) This is non-negotiable. (1) It makes the debate and by extension the tournament run on time and (2) it allows me to be as non-interventionist as possible.
I used to have a really long paradigm (it's still too long probably) with a diatribe about how I generally don't like theory or Ks in PF. At this point I'll vote on any and everything -- BUT I would still much, much prefer a substance debate (even if it gets really techy or framework-y or evidence comparison-y) over anything that attempts to modify the role of my ballot. Again, I'll still vote on those things, I think judge interference is really bad, -- I just won't have as much fun as a judge. If you think there's been a violation (disclosure, paraphrasing, misgendering, etc.) run a shell. Ks have forced me to expand my literature base, I'd consider myself familiar with setcol, afropess, feminism, cap bad, securitization, and I understand the warranting behind most other identity Ks. I'm not as familiar with other standard Ks nor more philosophical ones. If you have questions, please ask (preferably with both teams present), I want debate to be fun and educational.
I’m a tech judge (tabula rasa and all that), I flow on my computer using Flower. Best way to win the round is to do the work for me
Be kind and respectful, it would take a lot for me to change a ballot because of this but I’m pretty quick to change speaks if it’s rough
Extend everything you’re going for through every speech except 1st rebuttal
I vote on impacts/voters/the weighing debate unless the framework set forth is something other than stock benefits/harms or cost-benefit analysis
Speed is fine
I don’t flow cross but I pay attention, it’s fun, you should be able to extemporaneously explain things
I always disclose my decision alongside some feedback
Speaker points: 0/minimum = abuse, 26 = novice, 27 = needs improvement, 28 = solid, 29 = excellent, 30 = a top debater at this specific tournament the score is given out; I give speaker points for clarity and quality of argumentation (if there's a low speaker point win, the low team won "on the flow" but the higher team were generally better speakers and arguers and probably won the "truth" debate but not the "tech" debate). I don't bump speaks for anything arbitrary, it'd be so stupid for someone to get like a 4-2 screw bc another team mentioned a le epic meme in their speech and I definitely am skeptical of people who do this even if it seems innocuous.
(Also, Iowa judges who are reading this paradigm: The speaker point range is 26-30 in 2023, with 26 meaning "the student was a really bad speaker." It's not a decade ago where it was 20-30. Stop making students freak out and arbitrarily lowering their seeds by giving them a 26-27 unless they truly deserved it.)
Long story short, Just win baby~!
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Interp: Please have a clear theme or focus to your performance (It's why piece selection is so important -- please don't get frustrated if I downgrade a performance if I don't enjoy the piece. A prurient example of this is me judging my local circuit's DUOs one year. There was a performance of an excerpt from "Little Women" that was performed/acted beautifully... but the script was just horribly boring and the outdated language + no context for the full story of the [excellent!] novel just made it impossible to get into, so I never ranked them very high despite their great talent. In other words, be entertaining and compelling!)
Extemp: This event doesn’t leave a lot of leeway, the only consistent thing I see people do that hurts them is not answer the question accurately even if they have solid speaking/organization/etc.
OO/INFO: Persuade me and/or inform me, and just generally be compelling and/or entertaining, if you don’t do those things you probably won’t finish very high
Impromptu/Spont: Not telling (:
Bills: Please make them workable and just generally make them make sense, I hate disorganized and unfocused bills that have zero real-world implication
1st aff: This speech has no excuse to not be rock-solid because you technically have had a week-ish to write it, I’m way more willing to drop 3s and 4s on 1st affs that aren’t effective, give me your impacts clearly and show me why on a human level this bill is needed
1st neg: Need to respond to 2 things: the 1st aff and the bill itself, please do both otherwise it’s not worth the time and either the bill or the 1st aff’s arguments go unchecked
Subsequent speeches: These should be extemporaneous and directly respond to arguments previously made, do not be redundant with previous speeches on your side, I value speaking and argumentation above all
Questioning: Why are Congress competitors so afraid to ask questions? Most Congress speeches at least on the local Iowa level have major flaws either in argumentation/logic or in interpretation/workability of the bill, please call these flaws out if you see them, it’s not disrespectful or bad decorum to use your designated questioning time
Presiding: If I can essentially forget that you exist, you’ll get a really high rating, but if you’re constantly asking the parli for help/stumbling over procedure/messing up recency you won’t be ranked at all
Overall: Give me impacts, actually work really hard in preparation both before and during the session, speak well, and run an efficient and compelling debate
Lincoln-Douglas / Policy / World Schools
Minimal experience, but I'm always excited to learn more! I'm confident in my ability to evaluate arguments and debate but I'll probably get lost if you use excessive event-specific jargon, so please hold my hand a little haha. My overriding philosophy of tabula rasa, keeping judge ballot interference out of decisions, etc. also applies here
Director of Forensics of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA, former coach for Ames (IA)
I debated PF in high school in rural Iowa and had no exposure to national circuit BUT since then have coached multiple partnerships to TOC and state champions
Am decently experienced in Congress and Speech as well, I coached national qualifiers in each in my first year as coach (22-23)
Favorite debate event is Public Forum and my favorite speech events are Extemp and Oratory
Coaching forensics and attending tournaments are among my favorite things in life~ I feel so lucky to be able to do this a couple dozen weekends every year.
Pronouns: she / her
Style: I respond negatively to speakers who are rude, inappropriate/disrespectful, and grandstanding (my def = talking just to talk / pontificate).
Background: I have been teaching for 24 years in Iowa and Texas, and I am a debate coach. I also have legal assistant training; this, too, informs my perspective as a judge.
While I am relatively new to NSDA, don’t underestimate me; I teach speech, argumentation, and persuasion daily – same concepts, different venue.
I’m here because I prize lifelong learning, and I find these experiences are fun, rewarding, and add insight into my classroom teaching. I hope you, too, find these experiences fun and rewarding and that you learn and improve from each interaction… even if you don't win your round. :)
What I look for in a round:
I view my role in the round mainly as a trained observer and judge as teams do their work; I prefer teams to time themselves (and report the time) and I will rarely interrupt, direct, or ask for a card. However, I will note called cards and how they are subsequently used. If cards aren’t called or if points are left unchallenged, my assumption is your team agrees to their use – barring fundamentally untrue things ("racism good"). Note also that teams should extend the card’s argument and not just shorthand the author’s name.
Teams should independently, explicitly, at the beginning, address and agree upon how the round should be weighed; if not, my assumption is cost-benefit analysis.
I like roadmaps and prefer clear signposting throughout the round as these features allow all parties to be on the same page.
I can follow moderate speed – especially if it’s because you truly have a lot of strong links and evidence to present -- but if you go so fast that I miss your point, that’s on you. Same if you’re spreading or spending a lot of time talking but not actually saying anything, such as entire rounds spent on agreeing on definitions or other minutia.
Additionally, jargon doesn’t impress me; I spend my days breaking down jargon and complex topics for students, so I expect you to practice this real-world skill as well. Seeing your ability to adapt, contextualize, and show mastery without needing to resort to jargon is key for me.
During cross, ask questions to which you legitimately want answers and don't steamroll your opponents by interjecting so they can’t respond.
In your final focus, I prefer the focus to be on your case -- what are the main voters in the round and why your evidence should be preferred, why your impacts outweigh, why you should win, etc. – instead of your opponent’s case.
PF - I have been judging PF for around 7 years now. I am a judge that listens for Impacts on why your Impacts outweigh others. I am not a huge fan of speed. I am more concerned with the content of the speech rather than the amount of information given. I do understand the PF jargon. It is up to you to persuade me to vote for your side. I am not a huge fan of using FW and definitions as a weighing mechanism but will consider it if the other arguments are well balanced. Make sure to clearly state your Impacts and how these impacts link to the resolution.
Congress - I am looking for you to know the Robert's Rules of Order as well as seeing you participating in the debate by asking questions. In terms of your speech, I would like to hear a clear structure for your speeches. I want to hear the impacts of your points and I want you to be very familiar with your speeches as well. Make sure to bring up new arguments when a bill has been debated for awhile. If you speak later in the session, I want to hear clash with other representatives/senators. I also want to hear new information if you are representing the same point as someone who has spoken previously. I also track recency so I will note if a PO may miss a recency order. Make sure to maintain your professionalism during cross and during your speech. I will knock down a speaker if I feel they are being too aggressive during their speech or their cross.
LD - I do not have much experience judging LD currently. Please focus on argumentation and impacts rather than the jargon that goes along with LD. Tricks, theory, etc. will not work with me. Also, speed is discouraged during your speeches. Please make sure I can follow your supporting evidence and arguments. I am familiar with PF and judging PF.