Contemporary Issues Forum

What is Contemporary Issues Forum?

Contemporary Issues Forum is a debate between two member teams and is based on the Big Questions Debate format. It is designed to encourage students to research, explore, and engage in discussion.

Debate is a formal argument in which a team of affirmative debaters answers a formally worded question and a team of negative debaters argue the other side of the question. Teams will compete in a 6 round tournament and must argue both sides of the question. This encourages them to open their minds and learn about viewpoints that may not align with their previously held beliefs. 


  • Big Question Debate Format Manual - This manual introduces the format of the debate, through the National Speech and Debate Association.
  • Contemporary Issues Forum Overview - This powerpoint goes over what you need to know about CIF!
  • Lesson on Constructing an Argument - Starting at square one? Use this activity from the National Speech and Debate Association to teach your students how to construct an argument.
  • Lesson on Refuting an Argument - Refuting an argument and supporting your thoughts with evidence can be hard to learn. Check out this activity from the National Speech and Debate Association to help hone those skills.
  • Resources on Artificial Intelligence - Not where to start your research? Check out some of these helpful links put together by debate coach and MYIG advisor, LeAnne Schmidt!
  • Debate Progression - Advisors can use this method to run the debates with automatic timers and prompts for the students about what to include in the specific speeches. Thanks to LeAnne Schmidt for sharing this tool!
  • Debate Format Video - Check out this video that allows you to see what the format looks like in real life!

Interested in being a Volunteer Judge? 

Contemporary Issues Forum can not be possible without the volunteers that help judge each round. If you are interested in volunteering to help our middle school students experience this one of a kind program please fill out this form. Also, check out this guide by the National Speech and Debate Association on judging the Big Questions Debate format.

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