Classroom debates on current issues

Classroom debates on current issues

Classroom debates on current issues

Debating current issues is a great way to develop a student’s critical thinking skills and maximize student participation in the classroom.

Subjects
Social Studies
Keywords
Current Issues, debate, Speech
Grades
K 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 >12
Objectives: 

1. To increase critical thinking skills
2. Develop database research skills
3. Develop public speaking skills

About the author
Reed Markham currently teaches speech communication courses at Daytona State College
Procedure: 

Debating current issues is a great way to develop a student’s critical thinking skills and maximize student participation in the classroom. Successful debates involve the selection of audience centered topics. In preparation for the debates students utilize research from library databases and the internet. On the day of the debate students should bring copies of research, notes, and speech outlines.

A basic format for the Cross Examination Debate includes the following:

Participants: 2 teams- Affirmative and Negative (2 students in each team)

Class -debate judges

Room setup: Two tables, podium in the center, student debaters face the audience

Format:

The constructive speech is designed to give students an opportunity to prepare an extemporaneous speech using the Toulmin Model of Argumentation.

First Affirmative Constructive speech (6 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

Debate Resolution

Definitions- key terms in the debate resolution

Body- utilize a modified Toulmin Model containing a claim statement, evidence (sources must be cited), and impact (personal opinion describing the significance of the argument). Three claims must be presented.

Conclusion- brief conclusion summarizing key arguments and concluding with an attention getter.

Cross Examination (3 minutes) by a member of the Negative team- each participant is expected to participate as a questioner and as a respondent during the debate.

First Negative Constructive speech (6 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

Debate Resolution- negative team indicates that they disagree with the debate resolution

Definitions- key terms in the debate resolution

Body- utilize a modified Toulmin Model containing a claim statement, evidence (sources must be cited), and impact (personal opinion describing the significance of the argument). Three claims must be presented.

Conclusion- brief conclusion summarizing key arguments and concluding with an attention getter.

Cross Examination (3 minutes) by a member of the Affirmative team

Second Affirmative Constructive speech (6 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

The second speaker does not repeat the debate resolution and definitions- goes directly to the body of the speech

Body- utilize a modified Toulmin Model format – claim statement, evidence (sources must be cited), and impact (personal opinion describing the significance of the argument). Second speaker has two must pick one of two options for the body of the speech- (first option) present three, new independent claims (4, 5, 6) on the issue; (second option) reiterate claims presented by the first speaker, adding more evidence- examples, case studies, statistics, quotations.

Conclusion- brief conclusion summarizing key arguments and concluding with an attention getter.

Cross Examination (3 minutes) by a member of the Negative team

Second Negative Constructive speech (6 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

The second speaker does not repeat the debate resolution and definitions- goes directly to the body of the speech.

Body- utilize a modified Toulmin Model format – claim statement, evidence (sources must be cited), and impact (personal opinion describing the significance of the argument). Second speaker has two must pick one of two options for the body of the speech- (first option) present three, new independent claims (4, 5, 6) on the issue; (second option) reiterate claims presented by the first speaker, adding more evidence- examples, case studies, statistics, quotations.

Conclusion- brief conclusion summarizing key arguments and concluding with an attention getter.

Cross Examination (3 minutes) by a member of the Affirmative team

Preparation (prep time) for the rebuttal (5 minutes)

The rebuttal is an impromptu speech designed to give students the opportunity to think critically, analyze their opponents’ arguments, and develop a strong closing statement.

First Affirmative Rebuttal speech (4 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

Body of the speech- focus on at least three voting issues- presenting reasons why the class (acting as judges) should vote for the Affirmative team. Speaker needs to be responsive to opponents’ arguments, identify fallacies, and emphasize key arguments from the constructive speech.

Conclusion- brief summary and attention getter

First Negative Rebuttal speech (4 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

Body of the speech- focus on at least three voting issues- presenting reasons why the class (acting as judges) should vote for the Affirmative team. Speaker needs to be responsive to opponents’ arguments, identify fallacies, and emphasize key arguments from the constructive speech.

Conclusion- brief summary and attention getter.

Second Affirmative Rebuttal speech (4 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

Body of the speech- focus on at least three voting issues- presenting reasons why the class (acting as judges) should vote for the Affirmative team. Speaker needs to be responsive to opponents’ arguments, identify fallacies, and emphasize key arguments from the constructive speech.

Conclusion- brief summary and attention getter.

Second Negative Rebuttal speech (4 minutes)

Outline format:

Attention getting introduction

Body of the speech- focus on at least three voting issues- (presenting reasons) why the class (acting as judges) should vote for the Affirmative team. Speaker needs to be responsive to opponents’ arguments, identify fallacies, and emphasize key arguments from the constructive speech.

Conclusion- brief summary and attention getter.

Cross Examination rules and strategies:

Questioner-

1. Take the time to research and read about arguments on both sides of the issue

2. Prepare questions in advance of the debate (but keep in mind that spontaneous questions have the greatest impact)

3. Use follow up questions, if necessary

4. Avoid general questions

5. Ask specific, probing questions

6. No personal questions (personal questions are irrelevant)

7. Use your research to reference questions

8. You may ask questions about any issue or idea related to the debate topic

9. Face the audience as you ask questions

10. Avoid the shotgun approach to asking questions

11. Don’t let the respondent ramble- feel free to interrupt the respondent after they have given a fair response to a question

12. Use your time wisely- ask your best questions first

13. Take notes during your opponent’s speeches

14. The cross examination is for questions, not rebuttal speeches

Respondent-

1. Take the time to read several resources in preparation for your debate

2. Practice responding to questions with your debate team member in advance of the debate

3. Avoid responding like a politician- make sure you answer the question

4. Take advantage of generalized questions- feel free to elaborate on your response- it is the responsibility of the questioner to interrupt your response and ask another question

5. Don’t respond to personal questions (personal questions are irrelevant)

6. Use your research to reference question

7. Face the audience as you respond to questions

8. Remember- your debate team member cannot answer questions for you- be prepared

Classroom audience:

*Class members are expected to attend the debates and serve as debate judges. Each class member will use the argument flowsheet method of note taking during the debate. At the end of the debate class members will write down the name of the team that did the best job of debating the issues. Describe the reasons why you were persuaded to vote for that team. Make sure your name in is on the argument flowsheet.

*Class members need to set aside their personal opinions as debate judges. Judges are expected to be fair and impartial judges. Do not ask questions or interrupt the debate participants.

*Class members need to turn in their argument flowsheet at the end of the debate to receive credit for the assignment.

Debate preparation:

*Debate team members and opponents work together to prepare a debate resolution. This is a competitive debate- do not work with your opponents after a decision on a resolution has been made. Canned debates will receive significant grade reductions.

*Do not sit during the presentation of your speeches and cross examination.

*Results of the class vote will be announced at the end of the debate by the professor.

*Fairness doctrine applies to each speech delivered- speakers must stop speaking when the time limit has been reached. Student participants may use a stopwatch during the debate.

*Students are required to turn in copies of their research at the end of the debate.

*Laptops may not be used during the debate.

*Visuals are not required for this assignment. Do not use PowerPoint- the focus of the debate is on the development of verbal images and ideas.

Assessment: 

Speakers are evaluated for their performance in four categories:
organization, analysis of the topic, research, delivery

Technology: 

Laptops

Audience: 

High school juniors and seniors