Debating an Issue


ELAR-Grade-8 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.


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.


Cartoon of the devil participating in a business meeting, with the caption “I would like to play devil’s advocate on this idea also.”

Are you familiar with the phrase “to play devil’s advocate”?


Explain what you think it means to play devil’s advocate. If you have never heard the phrase before or do not know what it means, look at the cartoon, and then use your imagination to make a guess. Hint: Begin by defining the two words and see what connection you can make.

Post your answer

Being a devil’s advocate means arguing for the other side, just for the sake of argument. Discuss that even though people may not agree with a claim they are making, they can often find research to support the claim and argue that position. Also, by being a “devil’s advocate,” one can encourage people to look at the other side of a position, causing them to think deeper and often strengthen their own argument.


In this experience, you are going to learn more about how to argue a position by holding a debate with your classmates. You will all have a turn to be the “devil’s advocate” and try to get your classmates to agree with your position and see the other side.


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

Some possible topics are:

  • Homework should be banned.
  • All students should be required to do community service.
  • Junk food should be banned from schools.
  • Zoos should be abolished.
  • The government should be allowed to restrict freedom of speech.
  • All citizens should be required to vote.
  • Grades should be abolished.
  • The voting age should be lowered to 16.
  • Violent video games should be banned.
  • School should start later in the day.
  • Professional athletes who break a law should be banned from ever playing the sport again in addition to serving jail time.
  • Fast food restaurants should be held legally responsible for obesity.
  • Any other topics that relate to the students you teach, the curriculum, or the community.
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