Get your students moving with this engaging informal debate activity that introduces some of the most important issues of the American Civil War while having students taking a stand (literally!), supporting their arguments with evidence, and presenting them on the fly.
Great for a pre-unit activity or post-unit review, this resource includes:
• Detailed 1-2 day Lesson Plan—with step-by-step instructions for success
• Essential Question Guide—in which students take a stand on a list of debatable statements and do a quick-write on each
• Five Corners Activity Posters—so that students can “vote with their feet” to show their level of agreement with each statement
• Written Reflection Worksheet—so that students can reflect upon their learning
• Learning Scale and Self-Assessment—so that students clearly understand the learning goal and can monitor their progress
In this lesson, students practice crafting and presenting informal arguments while discussing some of the essential questions and debatable issues of the American Civil War. First, students are asked to do a quick-write on a variety of opinion statements related to the war. Then using a “Five Corners” activity, students demonstrate their stance on each statement by standing in an area of the room indicating their degree of agreement or disagreement. Students then present their individual arguments to the class, defending their stance on each statement and providing evidence for their claims. Finally, after each argument is fully presented, students are asked to move again to show whether or not they have changed their stance, discussing which arguments were strongest and most persuasive in swaying their opinion and why.
After the activity, students do a written reflection on one of the topics discussed, then assess their own learning based on the provided CCSS-aligned learning scale.
Spark your students’ interest in the Civil War and hone their speaking and writing skills—all while having fun along the way!
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Special thanks to The Sweetest Thing
on TPT for the striped background used in this packet!
Keywords: Civil War, American Civil War, debate, debate activity, informal debate, Civil War debate, four corners, five corners, fun social studies activities, Civil War essential questions