Holding a classroom debate is an effective way to improve the speaking, researching, reading, writing, reasoning and persuasion skills of your students. Many students find debating very enjoyable, especially when they're debating on a topic that's close to their heart. By conducting classroom debates, you are preparing your students for the future, where they may have to argue professionally with their colleagues. A debate is a medium for students to express how they feel and to give them the confidence that others value what they have to say.
Preparing for the Debate
Help select a topic that is popular among your students. Think about topics that they are consistently arguing and challenging. For example, "Should students be allowed to eat gum in school?" Let them vote upon a topic that the majority of the students are passionate about.
Allow each student to choose the side. Are they for it or are they against it? Help the students list benefits and costs for their side.
Give your students at least one class period to research. Ensure that your students choose strong, relevant facts to support their opinion.
Decide on some rules for the debate. Determine the length of the debate, how long each student will have to speak and any topics that students must avoid.
During the Debate
Select someone to monitor the debate or assume the role yourself. The moderator's job is to ensure the debate stays friendly and that everybody has a chance to participate.
Separate the students into two teams: one that is for the proposition and one that is against the proposition.
Allow students to state their opinions. When students wish to speak, they must raise their hand. The moderator will then call on them to speak.
Pick the side that wins based on how well the speakers voiced their opinions. Think about which team had the most convincing argument, whether the students built upon what the previous speaker said and which team knew their topic well.
- If there is likely to be too many students that are for or against the topic, don't let them pick sides. Try writing "For" or "Against" on small pieces of paper. Place these scraps of paper into a container and pass them out. Make sure the amount of students on each side are as close as possible, if not 100% even.
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