Classroom debate activity

Are you looking for classroom activities to get your students to use their critical thinking skills? Then you should try having a classroom debate. Not only will you get your students thinking, but you will get them interacting and communicating as well. Using classroom activities like debates can also foster presentation skills, research, teamwork, and public speaking.

So if you want to get your students excited about what they are learning, then try holding a classroom debate. The topic of debate will depend upon the age of your students. You will need an interesting topic to really get your students engaged.

Here are a few topic ideas. After you have chosen your controversial topic, you will either have to present this topic and both sides to your students, or have the students take the topic and research both sides of it to find out what side their position is on. If you decide to have students listen to a statement, then decide if they agree or disagree with that statement. Then break them into groups.

Once they are in groups, they can discuss their thoughts on the issue. If you decide to give students a topic, then send them off to research that topic. Next, have them work in groups to record information in support of their position. The easiest way for students to prepare for a class debate is to get their thoughts onto paper.

There are many ways that they can do this. They can write an essay where they write supporting arguments and show their evidence.

Stage a Debate in Class

Another option is to write a position paper where they take a position and must support that position with factual evidence. A third option is to use a graphic organizer to find their particular position on a topic. With this option, students must develop arguments both for and against the topic. On the debate day, they must choose which side they most strongly are for, or against. A final option is to create an argument outline, which is a basic outline of their position on the topic with supporting evidence of how they feel about the topic.

How to Celebrate World Health Day With the ongoing global health pandemic, teaching students about health is as What is Maker Education? Engage your students and get them excited about learning with Maker Education There are many different formats that you can use for your classroom debate.

Here are a few options. The Fishbowl Debate — Randomly select a handful of students to come sit in front of the classroom in a half-circle facing the students. Pose a question or a statement to those selected students and ask them to discuss it. The rest of the classmates ask a question to the panel or take turns taking their spot in the fishbowl, but they are not allowed to speak otherwise. This format is used when students have prior knowledge about the topic.

Advocate Decision-Making Debate — Students are placed into groups of three and assigned a topic to debate. One person is in support of the topic, one is against, and one acts as the judge.Debates are a fun activity that demand students use a variety of literacy skills. In this article, you'll find a classroom debate lesson plan that is inspired by my love of March Madness! Grab it now.

Debates are a great tool for engaging students and adding some excitement to classroom curriculum. A debate is a discussion in which participants articulate and justify their position on an issue. Teachers should have students participate in a classroom debate multiple times throughout the semester because they encourage students to:. Use multiple reading strategies to conduct research, identify main ideas, and gather important information in support of their opinion.

With the March Madness classroom debate lesson plan students will get in on the bracket battle fun! Students will participate in a series of debate activities with their classmates or other classes in their grade level.

The winners of each debate will move down a bracket system until only two teams remain. Once teams are knocked out of the debate tournament, students can act as newspaper columnists reporting on the debates.

The winning team of the final debate challenge will be the champions! Everything you need to implement the various debate activities in your classroom are included in downloadable bundle!

Tell students that they are going to be participating in a series of debates with their classmates or other classes in their grade level. Explain to them that a debate is when you look at both sides of an argument.

classroom debate activity

Let them know they will be given a topic to research. They will record arguments in support of and opposing on a Debate Challenge T-Chart included in download. Tell the students based on their stance on the argument they will be split up in to several teams.

Give them advanced warning that there needs to be enough people in support of and opposing, so some students may be arguing the opposite of what they believe let them know the sign of good debater is someone that can do that successfully. In keeping with the spirit of the March Madness tournament here are a few possible topics in sports to debate:.

After the research is complete and the teams are set, students will prepare their notes for the debate using the Debate Challenge Note Organizer included in download.

Remind students that they will want all of their notes with though during the time of the debate. Their notes should include:.

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There are several decisions you will need to make based on your class, grade level, and if you will have any colleagues available to help you monitor the debates. Decide what you will do with teams once they are knocked out of the March Madness Debate Challenge.

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One option is to have students act as newspaper columnists reporting on the debates. After each debate they can submit a short newspaper column summarizing the opinions and debate winner.Communication skills are vital for all young people, both to succeed in their education and in later life. It is not just a case of ensuring that all young people are functionally literate. Today we live in an information-rich society with increasing numbers of media sources, the growth of the internet and the emergence of social media.

Young people today not only need to have the skills needed to understand the information being presented, they need to have the skills to research through different sources, critically analyse the information presented and form their own conclusions and arguments as a result.

SME Confederate Flag Debate

Evidence has shown that debating activities in schools can contribute not only to educational achievement, but also to a range of wider outcomes that work towards developing more confident and well rounded individuals.

So how can teachers bring debating activities into the classroom? Broadly speaking a debate can be described as a formal discussion where two opposing sides follow a set or pre-agreed rules to engage in an oral exchange of different points of view on an issue.

In education people will probably be most familiar with using debate in competitive activities like the debating teams seen in American High Schools, but there are also less formal debate activities which teachers can bring into the classroom on a regular basis.

Debate should not just be a discreet activity designed purely to develop communication and argumentation skills. Instead it is a valuable tool that can be used in almost any subject class to provide a more meaningful and engaging encounter with subject knowledge than can be found in textbooks.

The teacher should set a clear topic for debate and assign contrasting viewpoints to individuals or groups. Students are then given time to go away and research the topic from their assigned viewpoints in preparation for a debate with the opposing team.

These observers will then act as judge to decide which side has won the debate. As a follow up students could be asked to write an essay based on the debate, or be tested on the subject matter in the usual way. If you are concerned about bringing a competitive element into the classroom the above structure can still be used, with the teacher assessing pupils on the relevance of their spoken contributions and use of researched evidence, but without a final judgement on a "winning side".

More information about using debating in the classroom is available from the ESU. Another approach would be to have the students working in groups as above to present one side of a proposition, but then be tasked with working together to find a solution to the discussion that works for both sides. There are many benefits to be gained from debating activities beyond the practical communication, reading, writing and study skills that most people would associate with debating.

Using debate to explore topics within curriculum subjects offers students exposure to social issues, drawing on real world information sources such as newspapers and government reports.

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Many students struggle with seeing how what they are learning in the classroom relates to the real world and how it will be relevant in later life. Debate opens classroom learning up beyond academic textbooks and allows students to follow their own interests within the boundaries of the selected topic. Debate can also help to broaden horizons, improve cultural awareness and bring together young people from diverse backgrounds.

There is evidence that debate can be particularly powerful when working with students from more disadvantaged backgrounds, boosting their confidence and even increasing aspirations for higher education.

classroom debate activity

For all young people debating activities are good preparation for further study and help to develop the skills which will be vital when coming to university level study. The research element of debate in particular helps students to develop library research skills, self-managed study and time management. It also introduces students to more in-depth analysis of a particular topic that is often difficult to introduce within the curriculum. CfBT Education Trust and the English-Speaking Union have just published a new research report which brings together evidence of the impact of debating activity in schools.

For more information the report is available to download here. Get your class in the mood for a debate about the constitution with this presentation. For pupils looking into the summer riots this resource will offer children the chance to make sense of events, resist peer pressure, develop empathy and also debate causes of, and solutions to, the violence.

For lots of stimulating ideas for class discussion, or debate, see this resource. Do you have something you want to share with colleagues — a resource of your own and why it works well with your students, or perhaps a brilliant piece of good practice in teaching or whole school activity that you know about it?

If so please get in touch. If you would like to blog on the Guardian Teacher Network please email emma. Setting up a debate in the classroom 1. For lots of stimulating ideas for class discussion, or debate, see this resource This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional.Debates provide excellent classroom learning opportunities. They help students learn how to think critically, express viewpoints rationally and reflect upon the views they hold.

Debates in the Classroom

Because some students might first find debates to be dry or difficult, some teachers introduce them to the concept with games. Along with building debating skills, debate games can prepare students for the debate format, break any undesirable debating patterns students have fallen into and help shy pupils open up in front of their peers. A quick game of rebuttal tennis will give students an opportunity to practice making rebuttals and thinking quickly. This game is simple and requires little advance preparation beyond compiling a list of topics.

To begin, split the students into pairs and have each pair sit facing each other. The original student then rebuts this statement, and the two continue back and forth.

Set a time limit for each rebuttal, perhaps 15 seconds to a minute. The student who cannot think of a rebuttal loses the round. Ask the students to play a predetermined odd number of rounds so that each pair has an overall winner. Four corners gets students up and out of their seats, which helps break classroom monotony and forces all students, even the shy ones, to choose a side.

Before playing, place one sign in each of the four corners of the classroom: strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree. Inform students that they will listen to statements, then move to the corner of the room that matches their viewpoint. Give students in other corners the chance to make rebuttals and change corners if they wish.

Spend a predetermined amount of time on each statement, perhaps five or 10 minutes, then repeat the exercise with another statement. Expressing arguments in front of peers can make students nervous and easily flustered, but a few rounds of "Can You Distract Me?

Divide the class into groups of three. One student from each group reads from a text, while the other two try to break his composure.

Using Classroom Debates to Engage Students

They can do this by whispering, making funny faces, snapping their fingers or moving around. When the first student finishes reading, the next student in the group reads, and then the third.

classroom debate activity

Borrowing topics from fairy tales allows students to relate to the debate format and substance. Next, lead the class in discussion, allowing students plenty of chances to contribute their ideas.By Signing up, you agree to our privacy policy. Description There's no debate about it! Debates are a great tool for engaging students and livening up classroom curriculum. Using debates in the classroom can help students grasp essential critical thinking and presentation skills.

Among the skills classroom debates can foster are abstract thinking, citizenship and etiquette, clarity, organization, persuasion, public speaking, research, and teamwork and cooperation.

And that's just the beginning! Learn More About Using Debates in the Classroom The following Education World articles and lessons provide a great starting point for using debates in the classroom:.

It's Up for Debate Debates are a staple of middle and high school social studies classes. But have you ever thought about using debates at the lower grades -- or in math class? Education World offers five debate strategies and extra lessons for students of all ages. The following five lessons can be found in this article:. Classroom Debate Resource Page This special Education World resources highlights the best resources for debate rules; debate rubrics for student assessment; debate topics for classroom use; more debate lesson plans; and fun debate strategies.

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classroom debate activity

Columnists All Columnists Ken Shore School Issues: Glossary. Search form Search. Debates in the Classroom Description There's no debate about it! Learn More About Using Debates in the Classroom The following Education World articles and lessons provide a great starting point for using debates in the classroom: It's Up for Debate Debates are a staple of middle and high school social studies classes.

The following five lessons can be found in this article: Stage a Debate: A Primer for Teachers Lincoln-Douglas Debate Format Adapt the standard debate format; plus ten strategies for engaging students in debate.

Grades Role Play Debate Students assume the roles of various stakeholders in debates on issues of high interest. Grades Using Fairy Tales to Debate Ethics Three fairy tales challenge students to think about honesty, right and wrong, and other questions of ethics.

Debate topics included for all grades. Grades Classroom Debate Resource Page This special Education World resources highlights the best resources for debate rules; debate rubrics for student assessment; debate topics for classroom use; more debate lesson plans; and fun debate strategies.

They learn about life in the White House and debate one of five issues related to the presidency. Grades Human Nature: Good or Evil?

Stage a debate or write an essay in response to the question: Is human nature inherently good or inherently evil? Grades Could Teddy Roosevelt Spell? Students stage debates about English spelling vs. Students participate in a classroom debate about athletes as heroes. Trending Puerto Rico Hand out this printable student work sheet with the uncorrected text for students to find errors of capitalization, punctuation, spelling, or grammar. Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean Sea and is made up of more than islands.

Puerto Rico has mountains waterfalls and a tropical rainforest.February 16, by Sheldon Soper. Any teacher or parent of adolescents will tell you, kids love to argue! Debating is a way to address both of these concepts in a fun and engaging way.

Odds are that when you think about a debate, you picture something akin to the prime-time presidential debates on television; there are podiums, timers, moderators, and structured formats.

Debating in your classroom does not necessarily need all of these trappings. While you could certainly opt for more traditional debate formats like a Lincoln-Douglas debatethere is much more to be gained by choosing formats that get as many students involved as possible. Some of the most effective class-wide debate activities include:.

Fishbowls are a great way to get an entire class to debate an issue. The classroom is arranged in inner and outer circles of students. Behind each student in the inner circle is a student who is responsible for listening to the arguments play out. At regular intervals, the inner circles and outer circles switch. In some variations, the outer circle students are required to take notes for both themselves and their inner circle counterpart. Another variation allows the outer-circle student to pass notes to the inner-circle student to help with their arguments.

4 Fast Debate Formats for the Secondary Classroom

Whatever ways you choose to modify the fishbowl framework, student engagement will be up. In this activity, students express their positions on a multi-faceted issue by moving to the corner of the classroom that displays a statement that they most agree with. One at a time, each student takes a turn defending their chosen position and then calls upon another classmate to respond.

Throughout the activity, students are free to move to different corners to reflect shifts in their positions; this adds a visual and kinesthetic element to the process.

What makes a four-corners debate particularly empowering is watching support for a position evolve following a compelling argument made by a student. One of the hardest argumentative skills to learn is how to defend a position that is not your own. By assigning students particular roles or positions to play out in a debate, you help them consider opposing viewpoints.Debate increases opportunities for speaking and listening in the classroom.

The cornerstone of classroom debate is the ability of students to present their positions and to convince others of those positions. Particular forms of debate are well-suited to first-time debaters as they focus less on the quality of speaking and more on the evidence presented in arguments.

Debate topics of interest to high school students range from human cloning and animal testing to changing the legal voting age. For middle school studentsdebate topics may include the abolishment of statewide testing or whether school uniforms should be required. To prep students for their first debate, review debate formatsshow students how debaters organize their arguments, watch videos of actual debates, and go over the scoring rubrics for each form of debate.

The Lincoln-Douglas debate is dedicated to questions that are of a deep moral or philosophical nature. A debate about the question "Should English class be required for four years? This type of debate could feature other roles such as a parent, a school principal, a college professor, a teacher, a textbook sales representative, or an author.

To role-play, ask students to help identify all stakeholders in the debate. Create three index cards for each role. Write the role of one stakeholder on each index card.

Students choose an index card at random, and those holding matching stakeholder cards gather together. Each team has a set amount of time three to five minutes to present its point of view. The teacher reads aloud the issue to be debated and then gives each team the opportunity to discuss its argument as a group.

One speaker from each team takes the floor and speaks for no more than one minute. That speaker must "tag" another member of the team to pick up the argument at the end of his time or before his minute is up.

A team member who is eager to pick up a point or add to the team's argument can raise his hand to be tagged. No member of a team can be tagged twice until all members have had an opportunity to speak. After all teams have presented, students vote on which team made the best argument. In the inner circle-outer circle debate, the teacher arranges students into two groups of equal size who take opposing sides in the debate. Each group has an opportunity to listen to the other group discuss an issue and formulate conclusions, as well as discuss and formulate its own conclusions.

The students in Group 1 sit in a circle of chairs facing out, away from the center, while the students in Group 2 sit in a circle of chairs around Group 1, facing the center of the circle as well as the students in Group 1. Once the students are seated, the teacher reads aloud the issue to be discussed. The students in the inner circle have 10 to 15 minutes to discuss the topic. No one else is allowed to speak during the inner circle's discussion time.

As the outer circle group observes the inner circle group and listens to the discussion, members of the outer circle group create a list of the arguments made by each member of the inner circle group. After the second round, all students share their outer circle observations. Share Flipboard Email.

Colette Bennett.

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Education Expert. Colette Bennett is a certified literacy specialist and curriculum coordinator with more than 20 years of classroom experience. Updated September 01,


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