Should Shakespeare be Required Reading? Let's Debate! Day 2

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SWBAT develop arguments using assertions, reasoning, and evidence in support of a point of view.

Big Idea

Give me three good reasons why you shouldn't have to read Shakespeare.

Latin Roots Warm Up

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journal.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

Brief Strategy Meeting

10 minutes

Yesterday, the students had about twenty minutes to prepare for the debate today.  So, today they just need a few minutes to collect their thoughts, review their notes and confirm their strategies.  (Of course, because they are eighth graders, there were a few attempts to "spy" on the opposing sides, but I just figured that meant that they were interested.


The Debate!

26 minutes

This is a copy of the rules that I followed for this debate.  The website was extremely helpful, because it recommended a process that is very easy to break down for middle schoolers.

Because we reviewed the process for debating and note-taking yesterday, they were ready to roll.  I do think it is crucial that the instructor do a practice debate before doing one "for real," because it allows you to see what issues arise and troubleshoot them.  Again, since we did that yesterday, the students knew what to expect in terms of time and the challenge of speaking in front of peers.

In order to make sure that things run smoothly, I put a student in charge of the timing.  (This also allows your very shy students to participate in an important way.)

The debate takes exactly twenty-six minutes, plus a minute or two added for transition time.  I had students who "had the floor" stand up and speak to the opposing side.  While they were speaking, I was taking copious notes so I could give specific feedback.

At the end of the debate, the students immediately demanded that I name a winner.  So, I showed them my messy notes and pointed out how many points went unanswered.  I likened this to tennis -- it doesn't matter how well you can serve, you have to return the ball to win.

Oddly enough, the anti-Shakespeare side won, mostly because of a single student...who is my biggest Shakespeare fan!  Since they didn't get to choose their sides, she had to argue against her own beliefs, and she did so very effectively.

Exit Ticket: Your Opinion Now...

10 minutes

The exit ticket gave students an opportunity to make the argument with which they actually believe.  The exit ticket question was the same as the debate: Should Shakespeare be required reading?  

To reinforce the A. R. E. Argument Structure, I had students label their assertion, reasoning and example(s) in their responses.