This plan is for Free Debate Lesson Plans which can be found here.
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Introduce your topic
As a class you can frame a question around an everyday task. If you we are discussing “space exploration is a waste of money”, you can ask the class “do you think that NASA should get ten times more money?”.
Alternatively, you can organise a class brainstorm. Write “space exploration” in a bubble and have students say immediately comes to mind. Be patient and try to encourage all ideas, no need to be critical with their suggestions. Try to encourage creative ideas and link ideas together. If possible try to cross-link multiple ideas and concepts see where the session take them
Reading the pros and cons
Give students time to read the first page of the lesson. If needed you can pre-teach the vocab that is present on the page.
Then, form groups with the students and ask them to think of the follow questions:
- Are there any more pros and cons which can be added to the list?
- Are there any problems with the points presented?
- What are their natural instincts to the question?
Once completed you can review as a class and see how they have developed their idea. Try to encourage inference. What existing knowledge they know piece together with any other information they have been given.
Again, have students read the language for debating page.
You can also try to enlarge that page to A3 and post it on to the wall. It could help them remember.
This is a multi-stage process.
Before assigning groups ask the students to vote on the Motion. What they personally feel. There should be three categories of vote: For, Against, and Abstention (undecided).
Firstly, make new groups with the students, make sure the members are all fresh. Then assign them a side of the motion, either For or Against. Tell them they need to think of at least 5 points for their side and another 5 counter-points that can be expected to be heard from their opponents. Make sure to check on them regularly and feed vocabulary to them when needed.
Secondly, start your debate for a set time period. Ensure there is a opening statement and a closing statement. The teacher can be the Chair. I usually use the following rules that I hold in my class in London:
- Have a voice level for conversation (no shouting)
- Be patient (wait your turn)
- Let others finish their point (no interruption and take turns)
- Be impersonal (no personal attacks)
If students find it difficult to take turns I sometimes give them my pen. Whoever has the pen can speak. Once they have finished they choose someone to give it to. They then speak and so it goes on.
Once all the points have been spoken and the students have all explained their ideas then for the final vote. Students now break their allegiance from their group and vote again. This is to see if they were able to persuade anyone to change their minds.
- Write a report about the debate.
- Create a presentation reflecting one side of the debate.
- Reflect on the quality of points expressed in the debate.
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