Staying Sharp Over Winter Break


Ah, winter break. We all appreciate the vacation from the classroom, but being away from school can be harmful to maintaining key speech and debate skills. This is a unique opportunity for students to independently practice to stay sharp. This guide offers practical suggestions that teachers can share with their students, ensuring continuous skill development even when school is not in session.


This resource is ideal for high school speech and debate teachers looking to provide their students with effective and engaging ways to practice their skills over the winter break. The activities are designed to be self-directed, allowing students to take ownership of their learning.

Learning Outcomes

  • Independent Practice: Encourage students to take initiative in practicing and improving their skills outside the classroom setting.
  • Critical Thinking: Maintain and sharpen critical thinking and argumentation skills during the break.
  • Speech Development: Enhance public speaking abilities, including delivery, structure, and rhetoric.
  • Research Skills: Foster ongoing research and analysis skills pertinent to debate preparation.

Activity Suggestions for Students

  1. Daily News Analysis:

    • Allocate a specific time each day to engage with a variety of news sources, including newspapers, online articles, and news broadcasts.
    • Practice analyzing both affirmative and negative arguments for key issues presented in the news.
    • Write brief summaries of the news stories, focusing on identifying the main arguments and evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.
    • How it Helps: Enhances the ability to quickly analyze and form arguments on current issues, a key skill in debate.
  2. Speech Recording and Review:

    • Choose different speech formats (informative, persuasive, impromptu, or another event) and record a speech on a topic of interest a few times a week.
    • After recording, critically review the speech, focusing on delivery, content, and structure.
    • Share recordings with peers or mentors for external feedback.
    • How it Helps: Improves public speaking skills and self-awareness of personal speaking styles and areas for improvement.
  3. Public Speaking Challenges:

    • Set a daily or weekly challenge to speak on a random topic for a few minutes. Use tools like online random topic generators for prompts.
    • Record these mini-speeches and analyze them for clarity, fluency, and engagement.
    • Try explaining complex concepts in simple terms to non-expert family members or friends.
    • How it Helps: Builds confidence in speaking on a variety of topics and enhances the ability to clearly convey complex information.
  4. Research on Upcoming Topics:

    • Identify topics that will be debated in upcoming competitions or events and start preliminary research.
    • Create a research folder or document and gather relevant articles, studies, and other resources.
    • Begin drafting potential arguments and counterarguments for these topics.
    • How it Helps: Provides a head start on preparation for future debates and keeps research skills sharp.
  5. Reflective Journaling:

    • Maintain a daily journal documenting insights from news analysis, speech practice, and any other debate-related activities.
    • Reflect on personal growth areas, successful strategies, and areas needing improvement.
    • Set weekly goals based on these reflections to focus learning and practice.
    • How it Helps: Encourages continuous self-evaluation and goal-setting, which are crucial for personal development in debate and public speaking.


By actively engaging in these activities, students will not only maintain their debate and public speaking skills during the winter break but also develop new competencies and insights. These exercises encourage continuous engagement with critical thinking, argumentation, research, and public speaking, ensuring that students return from the break ready and equipped for successful participation in speech and debate activities.

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