- Critical thinking

How to Organize a Classroom Debate

One activity that you can do in your class is to have a classroom debate. This is something that can help students on a variety of levels. There are writing skills, critical thinking skills, and even speaking skills that will be tested in this type of activity. It’s fairly simple to have this type of debate in your classroom as long as it’s organized properly.

First of all, you will need to come up with a topic. It needs to be something where there isn’t a clear correct stance either way. This makes both the affirmative and the negative positions on it equally appealing to those involved in the debate.

Get a style for your debate. Many use the Lincoln Douglas style but there are many others that you can use. The point is to have time for both positions to give arguments, refute arguments, and ask questions. These formats will have equal minutes for both positions giving both sides fair time to make and react to arguments.

Have your students work on both positions. This will not only challenge them, but also make it so that you don’t run into the problem of everyone taking the same side leaving no room for the debate.

When you do the debates, have each student do at least one of each with a different person to go against. Try to group the students according to what you would think the skill levels are to try and keep things challenging yet fair.

Let the others in the class listening be the judges along with yourself as the teacher. Have those listening outline the arguments and comment on the debate to keep everyone listening and paying attention to what’s going on.

Be aware that something like this can take quite a bit of classroom time. It’s not a short project by any means so don’t treat it as such.