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Debate Lesson Plan Schedule

Day 1 – Introduction

       Freewrite activity

o   Prompt: What makes a topic arguable? What are some topics/positions that you would feel strongly arguing about?

       Class Discussion

o   Discuss the qualifications of an arguable topic

o   What are topics that students would want to debate (list on the board)

o   Generate list until there are more than enough topics for students in the class to debate each side in teams of two (three if needed)

o   Teacher should eliminate or lead discussion towards elimination of topics that are inappropriate/not arguable

o   Students should be told to consider the merits of the various topics while discussing elements of a solid argument

§  Ethos, Pathos, Logos

§  Attack the topic, not your classmates

§  Logical causation

§  Oh, that slippery, slippery, slope

       With all things considered, students should turn in a half sheet of paper with their first, second, and third choices on topic AND position on that topic


Day 2 – Debate and Paper Format

       Give students topic/position assignments based on the selections that they had turned in the previous day

       Give handout on debate format and object of the debate (burden of proof on pro, while con wants to maintain status quo)

o   Know what the status quo is!

       Introduce Paper/with handout and explanation

o   Paper should prepare your talking points and provide statistics you intend to use

o   Should prepare you for possible opposing arguments that you may see from the opposing position

o   Prepare you for a rebuttal to those opposing viewpoints

o   A specific length is not required, but the paper should adequately prepare you to speak for the determined amounts of time for the debate

o   Research that you cite in the debate MUST be included in the paper

       HW: Bring 3 possible sources to class on Research Day


Day 3 – Research Day in Library

       Class will meet in the library so that students may have time to conduct their research with guidance from the teacher available

       Before students are set loose, teacher should conduct a brief check that students brought their assigned 3 possible sources

       Teacher should briefly lecture on good sources vs. bad sources

o   Research databases, Encylcopedia, Academic websites, scholarly journals

o   Geocities, blogs, WIKIPEDIA!

       Allow students the rest of the period for research while remaining available for any questions that students have

       Try conferencing with any students that appear to lack focus or be struggling to make sure they are on the right track

       HW: An outline of their paper to be completed by the Peer Collaboration Day


Day 4 – Explanation of Debate Day/Conferencing

       Give the students a thorough understanding of what is to come on debate day so that they can come in and immediately get started

o   Topics will randomly be selected out of a hat, so everyone needs to be ready to go at the very beginning

o   Refresh students on the format of the debate

o   Explain the audience scoring process/factor in grade

o   Talk about presenting – Notecards are okay, and encouraged – you won’t remember every stat. Reading your paper to us is NOT okay.

o   Catch our attention and leave us wanting more – DO NOT IGNORE YOUR INTRODUCTION AND CONCLUSION

       Use the remainder of the class for conferencing with each group, while allowing the groups to continue working on their project together. Questions should include

o   How is it going? (just to get them started)

o   Do you feel like you are finding an adequate amount of information for your position and the opposing side?

o   Do you have credible quotations or statistics to back up the claims you will make?

       HW: Have Paper finished and be ready for debate on Day 5


Day 5 – Debate Day

       Draw the random order

       Pass out the peer evaluation forms


       HW: Reflection – Answer the following questions:

o   In your own debate, what did you think went well? What could have gone better?

o   What is something that another group did that you found particularly effective? What was something else that could have been improved upon?

o   Were your feelings changed on any issues? Describe why or why not


Still Needed

Determining the times for each section of the debate

Debate Format Handout

Paper Handout

Peer Evaluation Form

Length of time between days (they will not be consecutive)

Unit Plan Idea – Debating! »

Erich Koerner

Informal Unit Plan – Debate

·         I would like to teach this lesson in the second quarter of an 11th grade English class. I feel that the reasoning and writing skills that will be addressed over the course of this unit will be beneficial to students as they work on their college applications and move closer to graduating.

·         Working Title: Junior Debate

·         Goals/Purposes:

o   Students will be able to identify a topic that is arguable and be able to rationally examine both sides of the argument via extensive research.

o   Students will be able to address the class orally with prepared information based on their research, as well as with rebuttals of opposing position’s arguments during debates.

o   Students should understand the elements of a strong argument and be able to apply them to their own presentation as well as a critique of other presentations.

o   Students should be able to communicate through writing their position on a given issue, possible counterarguments, and by briefly evaluating other group’s arguments for content, logic and emotionally appeal.

·         Expectations

o   Students will brainstorm debatable topics with the teacher and the class will decide what topics will be best used for debate

o   Students choose their top choices of the given topics (and positions on them) to debate on. (Debates will be done in groups of 2)

o   The teacher will explain the debate format, and that their research and ensuing papers should be geared towards preparing them to speak for the determined amounts of time

o   After topic assignments, students will research in the library for the paper that their arguments will be based off of.

o   Papers will be due the day of the debates and students will then go ahead and debate in front of the class

o   Audience members of the class will given a score sheet based on the requirements of the debate and will be expected to critically evaluate numerically and briefly in writing each debate to determine who won. (Students evaluation will be a % of the debate grade)

·         Key Texts/Assignments

o   School Library/Computer Access

o   Paper

o   Evaluations

·         Challenges

o   What to do in case of an odd number of students?

o   Preventing kids from making arguments personal instead of about topic.

o   Preventing students peer scores from being a popularity contest instead of being based on merit.