Ways to Write a Closing Argument for a Classroom Debate

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Some middle-school and high-school teachers engage their students in classroom debates or mock trials as part of their social studies, English or public speaking classes. Teachers often require students to write and present closing arguments at the conclusion of the debate. Closing arguments include a recap of what's been discussed, but don't spend a majority of your time repeating what's already been said. Focus on the most powerful reasons why your argument holds true and what might happen if your line of reasoning is ignored.

1 The Big Picture

Focus on the big picture and stress your main points. Include a brief summary of evidence you presented that supports your side of the argument. You don't want to bore your readers or listeners by rehashing the entire argument; the goal is to challenge, inspire and captivate your listeners with powerful and concise closing statements. For example, if the debate is about punishment for murderers and you oppose the death penalty, you might include a successful rehabilitation story or a plea from a convict's family member when you write your closing argument.

2 Expert Testimony

Include a paragraph that sums up the testimony of expert witnesses or respected leaders in the community who back your viewpoints. You might provide a short, impacting quote or an anecdote from a professional in the field to add validity to your statements. For example, if the debate is about abortion, you might use a quote from a doctor in a medical journal to support your case. A good quote or anecdote can grab classmates' attention and force them to consider your angle.

3 Concise Rebuttals

List the most significant rebuttals to your opponent's side of the argument. Include a warning of dire consequences that could result if others, such as legislators, judges or jury members, were to follow your opponent's line of reasoning. State what might happen if certain actions were followed or rejected. For example, if you're debating socialized health care and your opponent thinks it's a good idea, you might discuss the detrimental side effects of inflation, increased medical costs, limited opportunities to choose doctors and resulting higher taxes. If you're arguing in favor of socialized health care, you might discuss the high costs of private health insurance and the inability of low-income families to receive care.

4 A Call to Action

Recommend a course of action in your closing argument and end with a bang. Even though debates involve theorizing and speculation, the goal is to challenge readers and listeners to act. Use action verbs and imperative statements in your closing paragraph to motivate others to respond to your viewpoints. For example, if you're debating censorship, such as banned books, you might write, "Talk to the principal or school librarian, schedule a meeting with a local public library director or write your state representatives to request that libraries in your state carry all materials for age-appropriate readers. Say no to censorship." A call to action engages readers and spurs them to respond.

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.