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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.

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Common Core Standards 

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

I Can Statements 

I will know my exploration of debates is of high quality when:

  • I can identify the elements that define debate, such as claim, rebuttal, and rhetoric.

Suggestions for Assessing Student Readiness to Move Forward:

  • Confer with students to check their understanding of the elements of debate.
  • Provide students an anchor text and ask them to code or otherwise identify the elements of debate.
Possible Activities 
  1. Conduct a mini-lesson on the characteristics, uses, and roles of debates

  2. Have students view debates on video. Ask them to reflect on how each side creates a persuasive argument and defends their position. Ask questions like:

    • Which side was more persuasive and why?  
    • Which side did a better job of defending their position?
    • Which side did a better job of rebutting the opposing side’s position
  3. Conduct a mini-lesson on the format and rules of a traditional debate.  Have students review a video of a formal debate and identify the various roles and characteristics in operation.

  4. Provide several exemplars (videos or transcripts of debates) and ask students to select two or three to examine and to create a list of similarities in structure, craft, style, and form.

  5. Use a jigsaw format, where students work in groups, and each group reads texts or watches a video about debates and examines a different exemplar. Then reorganize the groups so that the new groups each have one representative from the former group, and each representative shares their learning with the others in this new group to create a collective understanding of the genre.                                       


  6. Ask students to watch an exemplar debate (such as a presidential debate) and, using a graphic organizer, take notes in the following possible categories:

    • H: How does the presenter hook the audience at the start of the debate?
    • E: What tactics are used to create an emotional impact on the listener?
    • C: What tools does the debater use to ensure the information is compelling and persuasive?
    • A: How does the debater create and support their arguments to defend their position?
  7. Instruct students to write a brief paragraph on each of the codes explaining and justifying their responses with evidence they observed.

Downloadable Resources 
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