Stargazing Debates

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SWBAT read and write an opinion using two texts on whether they would want an astronomy or stargazing club.

Big Idea

Students will read two articles about the stars and use them to help create a response that they will then use in a debate. The debate will focus on forming a stargazing club at school.

The Rules of the Game

10 minutes

In the beginning part of this lesson I want to set it up the lesson and writing response as a game. I ask students to help me out with some rules for writing and for working with a partner. First, we go over what we remember about writing a response that contains our opinion. As a class discussion, they come up with some very good answers. They remember that they have to include evidence form the text, and have to give good details. I reminded them that they also have to state their opinion clearly and use the details and text to support it. Their writing should also have a clear introduction and conclusion. However, when they were benchmarked for the state assessments, students forgot most of these things. To get them to own this part I asked who remembered to do this when they wrote their response on stargazing. I had two hands raise.

This, I explain to them, is the reason we are going to practice more so that it becomes a part of our writing. To practice they are going to be put into partners. Each pair will work as a team to try to write the best response to the same prompts they were given on the benchmark assessment. 


For or Against

5 minutes

I continue the rules for each pair. They will get two articles that they will read and annotate together. They will then use the article to write a paragraph response that answers the question, "should the school form a stargazing club?" They need to help each other with the writing and creation of sentences. I do remind them that the paragraph should have a goo introduction, conclusion, and the details need to flow.  

When they get to the part of writing their response, they need to clearly state whether they are for having a the club or if they are against creating one. Either way they need to be clear on what they choose and support their reason with the text. 

I hand out the rubric that the teachers were given for scoring their responses. As a class, we go over the response examples and the score they each earned. I mainly hit the highest score and the lowest score and compare these two with them. You could do this using a Venn Diagram. I then show them the actual rubric and use the document camera to show what their writing has to have to get the highest score. I will give this copy to each group so that they have it as a model. 

Reading and Responding with Partners

20 minutes

With the pairs selected, and positioned around the room, it is now reading time. Right before they start I ask them to remind me what they will do first and what does it look like. They will read together. I remind them that one person can read, but both need to help make the annotations.They might need to write notes and they are allowed to write all over the articles to get their thoughts down. 

Once they finish with the readings. They will then need to discuss their opinion and form a response. Before they write they need to talk it out and form a plan.  Once they have this plan, they can begin writing their response. I remind them that they need to use the rubric to try and get all of the pieces to earn the highest score possible. 

Great Debate

15 minutes

This portion might have to be completed on a different day. The reading and writing takes a lot of time and it might be best to save the debate. 

To begin the debating, I split the groups on sides of the room. I only had two groups that chose to not have a stargazing club and really you only need one. When they are settled, I go over how the debate will work. It will be very similar to when they have a student led discussion. Each side will take turns explaining their supporting details. They are going to have to try to convince me which is best, and they can not make stuff up. The details need to come from the reading or from their writing. The other rule is that a different student needs to give the details for or against each time. That way not one student monopolizes the debate. I want to hear each of them and use it to check to see how well they understand the position and details they created with their partners. 

To help each side prepare their arguments, I give them time to talk and discuss their details. They also need to have an idea of who will talk first. All that is left is to sit back and listen to their ideas and details.