What if…

We amplified student voice and made them a meaningful part of our own professional learning?

Students aged 10-15 are invited and encouraged to add their voice to #AMLE21 through three amazing opportunities:

The Great Middle School Student Voice Off Contest

It’s time to make your voice heard, middle grades students!

At AMLE, we believe that middle grades students benefit from democratic approaches to education that involve students regularly in shared decision making. We also believe that we, as educators, benefit from knowing and understanding student perspectives. That’s why we’re holding the Great Middle School Voice Off during our #AMLE21 Annual Conference. It’s as easy as sharing your perspective on one of two topics that impact you as a middle grades student.

We need you to sound off on one of two topics:

TOPIC 1: Should there be homework in middle school?

TOPIC 2: Should there be dress codes in middle school?

Students must select only one, and can choose to take the pro or con argument.


Students aged 10-15 as of November 4, 2021 may compete.


To enter the contest, students must:

  • Select a Voice Off topic and pro/con position.
  • Create a video no more than 7 minutes in length providing an argument in support of their chosen position.
  • With their parent/guardian, complete the registration form, including a link to their recorded Voice Off video. The student must provide the name and contact information for a teacher who supports their entry into the contest.

Submissions are due by October 7, 2021 at 11:59 pm. No late submissions will be considered. There is no fee to enter this competition. Only one submission/student.


  • October 7 at 11:59 pm ET: Entries are due via the online registration form.
  • October 18: Semi-finalists will be notified of their selection and have until October 20 at 11:59 pm ET to confirm their participation in the semi-final round.
  • October 22: All entrants will be notified of the outcome of their submission.
  • November 4 at 6:00 pm ET*: The semi-final round will be conducted live during the #AMLE21 opening General Session
  • November 7 at 11:05 am ET*: The final round will be conducted live during the #AMLE21 closing General Session

*General session times are subject to slight changes.

Selection of Semi-Finalists

A selection committee of AMLE members will review submissions and evaluate each against the contest scoring rubric (adapted from NSDA Congressional Debate).

The student receiving the top score for each category (PRO topic 1, CON topic 1, PRO topic 2, and CON topic 2) will be selected as semi-finalists and invited to the live semi-final competition to be held Thursday, November 4 at 6:00 pm ET.

Semifinal round

The semi-final round will be conducted during the #AMLE21 Annual Conference opening General Session on November 4 from 6:00 – 7:00 pm ET. The platform will be Zoom Webinar.

The topic will be the same as the one originally submitted. A coin toss will determine which participant will go first for each topic.

Each participant will have 3 minutes to articulate their position and 4 minutes to respond to judges’ questions. A 10 second grace period will be awarded all participants. Participants may be penalized at the discretion of the judges if they go over the time limit.

The judges will convene in a separate meeting space to assess each student’s performance and will select the top two finalists to proceed to the final found of competition. The judges’ decision is final.

Final Round

The finalists will be given a new topic and will be randomly assigned a pro/con position following their selection on November 4th. The final round will be held on November 7 at 11:05 am during the final #AMLE21 General Session.

The final round will be conducted in the same format as the semi-final round, with the exception that the student will have 4 minutes to articulate their position and 5 minutes to respond to judges questions. The winner of Voice Off will be announced at the conclusion of the General Session on November 7th.


Each participant will be awarded as follows:

  • First Place finalist will receive $500, a plaque acknowledging their accomplishment, and recognition on AMLE’s website.
  • Second Place finalist will receive $250, a plaque acknowledging their accomplishment, and recognition on AMLE’s website.
  • The 3rd and 4th place semi-finalists will receive $100 each, plaques acknowledging their accomplishment, and recognition on AMLE’s website and social media accounts
  • All entrants will receive a certificate of participation

In addition, each semi-finalist student’s educator sponsor will receive complimentary registration to the #AMLE21 virtual conference, a year of AMLE professional membership, and a complimentary registration to  #AMLE22 Annual Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida.

All educator sponsors will receive a complimentary copy of The Successful Middle School: This We Believe, AMLE tote, and $100 off the cost of registration to #AMLE21.


All participants agree to abide by the following rules:

  • Students agree that they will not receive outside help to develop their position. However, sponsoring teachers can support students by instructing them on persuasive argument and evidence gathering technique.
  • Students should cite evidence and support for the evidence. All information presented should be cited, giving credit to the original source.
  • Must use civil discourse – AMLE reserves the right to disqualify any participant for exhibiting disrespectful behavior against anyone involved in the competition
  • AMLE will record the entire debate competition and may publish either full recording or parts of it on the website, social media, or other forums.
  • Content must comply with all local and national laws of the country of origin and the United States. Content must not 1) promote illegal behavior; 2) support racial, religious, sexual or other invidious prejudice; 3) advocate sexual or violent exploitation; 4) violate rights established by law or agreement; 5) invade the privacy of any person; or 6) be otherwise inappropriate as determined by Population Connection in its sole and conclusive determination.
  • The judges’ decision is final.
  • The only compensation for submitting a video is the opportunity to be awarded a prize if the entry wins. Population Connection will pay filmmakers no additional compensation nor be liable to the filmmaker under any circumstances.
  • Ownership of the underlying intellectual property of the project remains with the entrant, with the following exceptions.
    • Entrants grant AMLE the right to use their names, photographs, statements, quotes, testimonials, and video submissions for advertising, publicity, and promotional purposes without notification or further compensation.
    • Entrants also grant AMLE the right to use, reproduce, reprint, distribute, perform, and/or display the entrant’s project video without further compensation or notification to the entrant.
    • AMLE maintains the right to reproduce, reprint, distribute, perform, display, or exhibit the project for advertising, publicity, and promotional purposes on their website, at conferences, or at any other venues.
  • By accepting the prizes, winners agree to hold AMLE and all AMLE employees harmless against any and all claims and liability arising out of use of such prizes. Winner assumes all liability for any injury or damage caused from participation in the contest or use/redemption of any prize.
  • Entrants agree to be bound by the official contest rules and decisions of the judges.

Call for Volunteers

How would you like to contribute to #AMLE21 while also hearing a multitude of student perspectives on these important topics? We’re looking for volunteers to participate in the first-round grading of submissions. The commitment is approximately 2 hours and will be completed the second week of October. Volunteers will earn an AMLE Volunteer badge to add to your professional profile. Sign up today