I begin the lesson by asking students if they have ever seen a debate - maybe a Presidential debate, or a movie like "The Great Debaters." Some students had seen a debate and some had not. I explain to them a debate is simply a discussion in which participants articulate, justify, and clarify their positions on an issue.
Although classroom debates on the elementary level are not as common as on the middle and high school levels, I have found them to be essential in preparing my students for college and career readiness. To prepare for our classroom debate, I divide my students into 2 teams and I select 3 students who will serve as evaluators. I tell students participating in the debate on the "for" and "against" sides that they will use a T-chart graphic organizer on which to take notes. The evaluators will take notes on an evaluator rubric. I review the "Debate Do's and Don'ts" and the "Learning Objectives" for the lesson. In order to ensure that my students get to the essential understandings I want them to gain for the lesson, I have developed some essential questions I will use as the moderator of the debate (see attached Powerpoint).
I have 3 students who served as evaluators for the debate. I allow those 3 students to decide which side they felt won the debate and explain why using Common Core State Standards. I have found debates allow students to become more proficient in speaking, researching, reading, writing, listening, and critical thinking. I close the lesson by reviewing with the whole class the essential understandings the lesson was designed to ensure that they gained:
- Why are debates important?
- Why is research important in a debate?
- Why are listening and note-taking important in a debate?
- Is the fight to save endangered animals a worthy cause? If so, why?