Debate

Description 

The Debate Performance Task Guide was created as a way to support the teaching the skills of persuasion and argument within the realms of speaking and listening.

Young children learn to listen, then speak, then read, and finally, write. In school, our classrooms are often places of listening, reading, and writing, with speaking playing a smaller role. The use of debate as a performance task creates an opportunity to teach important literacy and critical thinking skills, combining the performance elements of evidence-based argumentation and collaborative discussion. Though college freshmen are rarely asked to undertake formal debates, the process students undergo when preparing to debate is strikingly similar to that which is required to write an argumentative essay. Our theory is that the skill of persuasive speaking supports students in their efforts to become strong persuasive writers.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.1
  • CCRA.L.2
  • CCRA.L.3
  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.R.9
  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.SL.6
  • CCRA.W.1
  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.7

Opportunities for Student Choice 

Student choice can be encouraged in a number of ways. Students can choose the issue, and/or they can choose their position. They can also choose the resources they review, and the arguments combined with the facts, details, evidence, and anecdotes they will present. 

Authentic Task 

Debates and the skill embedded within are used in almost all professions: the medical field, business, legal services, education and social services, news, and politics, to name a few.  Within these fields, they are used in various ways, including: in meetings, at conferences, to sway public opinion, and to call communities, constituents, and stakeholders to action on various issues. In addition, many students who go on to institutions of higher learning will have to defend a thesis.  Both historically and currently, mastery of rhetoric is an essential skill. It requires that students use non-fiction informational texts and develop skills to comprehend as well as critique, respond to varying demands of audience and purpose, and construct viable arguments and rebuttals.

Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience 

There are many possible audiences for debates. If students are working on a school issue, they may conduct the debate in a school assembly or create a debate video posted on the school’s website. If it's a community issue, they might prepare to present their arguments on the web or present at a council meeting or at town hall. Students can create a guest blog post for videos of their debates. They can create their own class web link and put debate videos together in one place. Students might also submit proposals to attend and participate in local and national debates.  

Grade Level Adaptations 

Elementary School: Student learning might focus on preparing strong arguments to defend a position.

Middle School: Students will potentially be able to predict the viewpoint of the counterposition and create a rebuttal in preparation for refuting their argument.  This can be done in a “hot seat” fashion rather than a debate.

High School: Students might, while arguing for their position by acknowledging and countering opposing points of view, also focus on appealing to the emotion of the listener and speaking to ensure they project an image of credibility and win the debate. 

Teacher Resources 

Downloadable Resources 
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Explore the Genre of Debate_Debate

What makes a great debate?
Develop a clear enough understanding of the characteristics of this genre to be
able to explain your understanding to others.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.SL.2
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Debate Performance Task Rubric

What are the expectations for this performance task?  

Each performance task has a single-point rubric, which lays out the expectations for college-and career-ready performance. This type of rubric allows teachers to provide specific, focused feedback without limiting students’ creativity or putting a ceiling on their achievement....

Choose A Topic_Debate

What makes for a good topic for a debate?
Identify an issue that you either feel strongly about or wonder about. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Research Both Sides of the Issue_Debate

What do people know, say, and believe about this issue?
Find and analyze resources that will help you grasp the topic’s key concepts, in addition to deepening your understanding of the range of perspectives about the issue.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.W.7
  • CCRA.W.8

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Choose A Position_Debate

What is your position on this issue?
Consider the research you have undertaken, and use it to inform the crafting of an evidence-based position on the issue. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.8
  • CCRA.W.1

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Create Arguments Using Facts, Details, Data, Evidence and Anecdotes_Debate

How do you choose the most important ideas to include, and include them in the most compelling format to build a cohesive argument?
Find a way to organize your thoughts about the issue and the supporting evidence you have collected. Ensure that you present your ideas in a compelling fashion, using principles of...

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.W.1
  • CCRA.W.4

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Create the Rebuttal_Debate

How do you prepare to counter the opposing viewpoint in order to ensure your position is well supported?
Find a way to organize your thoughts about the issue and the supporting evidence you have collected into a powerful speech. Construct your first draft. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.W.1
  • CCRA.W.4

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Outline and Draft_Debate

How do I plan for participation in a debate?
You will write your opening and closing arguments as well as rebuttal points in preparation for participation in a debate.  

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.W.1
  • CCRA.W.4

Time To Complete 

2+ Days

Practice and Prepare_Debate

How do you prepare to participate in a debate?
Create and execute a plan prior to participating in a debate to ensure that you have focused on pace, tone, intonation, posture, body language, hand gestures, and eye contact, and have adequately practiced.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.4
  • CCRA.SL.5

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Giving and Receiving Feedback_Debate

How do people collaborate to make their presentations and arguments more effective?
Give and receive feedback that is focused and constructive, and will help the author improve their presentation and argument. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Incorporating Feedback for Revision_Debate

How can you improve your preparation in anticipation of participation in a debate?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your presentation with a focus on speaking skills such as intonation, pacing, and body language, as well as a focus on creating a strong agreement to prove your position. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Edit_Debate

How can you improve your draft?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your arguments with a focus on grammar and professional language.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

1 Day