In an evolving world of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” where anyone can publish content online, it is increasingly difficult for individuals — particularly youth who are “digital natives” — to discern quality in primary and secondary sources as well as literature. Interscholastic speech and debate requires research to draft speeches and debate cases, as well as to find substantive literature to perform. Teachers often are overwhelmed trying to keep up with information literacy and best practices, so this workshop can help educators build skills applicable both in the classroom, as well as at interscholastic forensic contests.

The free workshop will be held Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at UW-La Crosse. Features include:

  • Educators may apply for substitute teacher coverage stipends (where needed)
  • Participants will receive certificates showing professional development hours, which can be used for professional development plans/teaching portfolios.
  • Nationally recognized experts in speech and debate education
  • Exploration of such topics as:
    • Tactics for teaching/coaching information literacy in the 21st century
    • Facts, Opinions and Alternate Facts: Researching for Speeches
    • Extemporaneous Speaking: Best Teaching Practices
    • Student Performance Trends and Tactics
    • Conducting firsthand interviews (primary sources)
    • Deriving significance of student topics to justify relevance
  • Exhibition debate (see just how accessible our Public Forum format of debate is)
  • Network with colleagues and share best practices

Registration for this free workshop continues on a rolling basis (see button); once we fill we will begin a wait list. Participants will be treated to light breakfast snacks and lunch by UW-La Crosse.

“Speech and debate opens students’ minds to new ideas and cultural experiences; these activities build confidence in young people who are often reluctant to communicate; and the activities foster soft skills and civic awareness to prepare youth to be engaged in our civil society.”

Adam Jacobi

WHSFA Executive Director

Printable Schedule


J. Scott Baker, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational studies at UW-La Crosse, has spent 20+ years as a speech and debate educator in Texas, where he guided students to state and national degrees of success. He has been a faculty member with the Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshops, and has researched extensively in the areas of speech and debate education, multicultural education, and artistic and poetic inquiry. Dr. Baker is a former board member and secretary of the Texas Forensic Association, district chair for the National Speech & Debate Association, and has worked with the WHSFA at its State Theatre and State Speech Festivals.
Jim Carlson, Ph.D., assistant professor of educational studies at UW-La Crosse, taught high school courses for seven years in Journalism, Creative Writing, and American Literature. He currently teaches and supervises teacher candidates from a range of disciplines and licensure areas and serves as the Professional Development School (PDS) liaison at Onalaska and West Salem Middle Schools. Dr. Carlson’s academic interests include literacy, diversity, teacher inquiry and teacher identity.
Teri Holford-Talpe, MLS, Engagement and Curriculum Collection Librarian at UWL, focuses on outreach, and runs the children’s collection for the School of Education. She became a librarian in 2007 after living as an expat for 20 years in Europe. Teri sees librarianship today as flipping the traditional sense of the library as “place”, instead taking the library out to the user and the user’s needs and interests. Her current professional passion is connecting the K-16 community to create and maintain awareness of vital literacies (information, news, media, digital) that make us all stronger, responsible and committed citizens of our democracy.
Adam Jacobi, WHSFA executive director, has spent 20 years as a speech and debate educator and administrator, most of which were in the inner city of Milwaukee, where he helped guide his students to high degrees of success as well as taught in the International Baccalaureate Theatre curriculum. He has been a faculty member with the Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshops, and taught public speaking and debate in China, where he helped coordinate development and rollout of an American forensic curriculum. Mr. Jacobi has presented educational workshops across the country and around the world.
Kay Neal, Ph.D., professor emeritus of communication at UW-Oshkosh has spent her career supporting forensic activities in Wisconsin, including as Debate Advisor to the WHSFA, and longtime speech adjudicator trainer. She has been a fierce champion of speech communication education, advising countless K-12 teachers. Dr. Neal has written textbooks on coaching speech and debate, and has presented numerous professional development workshops. After years as department chair of Communication Studies at UW-Oshkosh, she served a term as faculty president.
Deano Pape, assistant director of speech and debate at Simpson College (Iowa) has spent 25+ years in higher education teaching and administration, many of which were at Ripon College where he also helped coach their nationally-recognized Ethics Bowl team. He also serves as membership specialist for the National Speech & Debate Association, has coordinated curriculum with the Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshops, and has helped at several WHSFA events over the years. Mr. Pape has traveled the country enhancing faculty development efforts at more than 25 colleges and universities through keynote presentations and workshop facilitation.


The School of Education, Professional and Continuing Education (EPC) develops effective teachers and responsible citizens in a diverse and dynamic world. EPC is engaged in collaborative efforts with the La Crosse School District, including Professional Development School partnerships that provide immersive experiences for teacher candidates and continuous professional development of current teachers, as well as other educational and multicultural programming in the community.

The WHSFA is the nation’s oldest interscholastic activity organization offering speech, debate, and theatre activities. Close to 85% of Wisconsin high schools, and a large number of middle schools participate in programming offered by the WHSFA.

Funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council (WHC), with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The WHC supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the NEH.