Debating an Issue


ELAR-Grade-6 Non-fiction Texts Debating an Issue
Students work in groups on a debate topic. Each group subdivides into teams for and against the topic. Teams research the debate topic in order to plan their initial speech and rebuttal. Teams listen to and address the opposing team’s speech in order to adequately address the arguments made. The students not participating in the debate listen and take notes so they may ask the teams questions as needed. The audience votes on which team presented a more convincing argument.

This learning experience is designed for device-enabled classrooms. The teacher guides the lesson, and students use embedded resources, social media skills, and critical thinking skills to actively participate. To get access to a free version of the complete lesson, sign up for an exploros account.

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Here are the teacher pack items for Debating an Issue:

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Overview

In this experience, students work in groups on a debate topic. Each group subdivides into teams for and against the topic. Teams research the debate topic in order to plan their initial speech and rebuttal. Teams listen to and address the opposing team’s speech in order to adequately address the arguments made. The students not participating in the debate listen and take notes so they may ask the teams questions as needed. The audience votes on which team presented a more convincing argument.

Divide students into groups of 4 or 6 people (if possible), so that both the for and against teams have the same number of participants. If you have an odd number of students, you can have two students split presentation of the initial team position, or you can pair a strong student with an ELL student to work together.

The student posts throughout the experience enable you to track student progress and to ensure that the students have divided up the work appropriately. As students work with their teams, monitor their progress and intervene when necessary.

Objectives

  • Work with a group to prepare a debate.
  • Research facts to plan a debate speech arguing a position.
  • Use good speaking skills to present a position.
  • Listen actively to evaluate speeches given by classmates.

Duration

Two class periods for preparation; 3 debates per class period for presentation. Encourage students to practice their speeches outside of class.


When was the last time you were asked to express your opinion about something? Did you have any trouble stating your opinion? Typically stating our opinion is easy, but offering evidence and support for our opinions can be difficult. Even more difficult than that can be trying to convince someone to feel the same way. In this experience, you will be working with a team to debate a position. With your team, you will plan and develop speeches to be given during a debate in an attempt to persuade the audience to agree with the position you are arguing.

Objectives

  • Work with a group to prepare a debate.
  • Research facts to plan a debate speech arguing a position.
  • Use good speaking skills to present a position.
  • Listen actively to evaluate speeches given by classmates.


presidential candidates Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford during a campaign debate, 1976

Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford debate during the 1976 presidential campaign


Have you ever seen a debate? Maybe a debate in your class, or a debate between political candidates?


Describe what you know about debates and debating. 

Post your answer

Discuss student responses to generate a class definition of what a debate is. Many students will likely think a debate is an argument. Gather student input regarding the contexts in which they have heard of debates or seen a debate.

If your students are new to the concept of debating, review the general steps at each opportunity during the planning stages, so that the students have a clear understanding of the goals of each step.

Emphasize that debates are more than just arguments; a debate is a structured discussion between two people or teams in which each team presents their position with logical reasons and tries to persuade the audience to agree with their side.


In this experience, you are going to learn more about debates and what makes a debater successful. You and your team will plan and participate in a debate arguing a position and supporting it with reasons and evidence.


Divide students into their small groups. Assign each group a different debate topic.

Some possible topics are:

  • Homework should be banned.
  • Stores should not be allowed to sell violent video games.
  • Junk food should be banned from schools.
  • All children should have chores at home.
  • Students should be paid for getting good grades.
  • School should start later in the day.
  • Schools should adopt a 12-month school year.
  • Students should be able to grade their teachers.
  • All students should be required to volunteer in the community.
  • Any other topics that relate to the students you teach, the curriculum, or the community.
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