Professional Development Workshop

Partnering with UW-La Crosse & Wisconsin Humanities Council

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
    • Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: Quality Literature for Performance
    • 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
  • Workshop will be followed by a Speech Judge Training session

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

Contact Us With Questions

Workshop Countdown








“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


8:00-9:00:  Registration
9:00-12:00: Sessions
12:00-1:00: Lunch
1:00-3:30: Sessions
4:30-7:30: Judge Training


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 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,

Teri HolfordTeri Holford-Talpe, MLS, assistant professor and academic engagement & curriculum librarian at UW-La Crosse, is excited to be part of the information literacy workshop (more information to come soon).


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.

More presenter profiles to be added soon!


The UW-La Crosse (UWL) School of Education, Professional and Continuing Education (EPC) strives to develop 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 Wisconsin High School Forensic Association (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.

WHC LogoFunded 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.

Parking Ramp

Centennial Hall

Workshop begins in Centennial Hall’s Hall of Nations, 1st floor.


Ramp: 1617 Farwell St, La Crosse
Parking will be provided for non-UWL students.


Centennial Hall: 300 16th St N, La Crosse
Hall of Nations, 1st Floor