I use this activity when we are about half way through 1984 to help my students compare 1984's societies to their own while also practicing persuasive, speaking, and listening skills.
I assign small groups their topic and subtopic (shown in sample), and they spend about 1.5 days on the brainstorming sheet. They then split up the arguments between group members in terms of who will present which two arguments and create notecards - directions for notecards are included.
We discuss the rules of civil discourse (included) and I set up desks in a large rectangle, two rows deep. The debate takes two days where each side of each topic presents their arguments and then people have a chance to respond. Included in the packet is the notes sheets each student takes while groups are presenting their arguments. If the class is not discussing or offering rebuttals, I have all the students take about four minutes and discuss the specific topic arguments presented and then call on a couple groups to share. This gets all students involved and helps with the problem of only the same six students responding.
This was the richest class discussion we had all year, and the students' insight about the book and their own society was impressive.
After the debate we finish reading 1984, and I then have students write an essay defending the opposite side than they had for the debate. They can only use evidence from the second half of the book (since the debate was using evidence from the first half), but they can use their notes taken during the debate to help them brainstorm since the other groups' topics should still be applicable.