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Debate: Native American (Indian) Removal - Justified or Unjustified

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This is by far the best research driven debate that I have ever hosted in a history class. Much like the other debates that I have posted, I use a DBQ book to provide background information though one could easily simply research the topic without the DBQ materials.

I think what makes this debate my favorite, is that before the research takes place, the students all say "of course the removal of Native Americans from Georgia and other eastern lands was unjustified - the President was wrong, Congress was wrong, etc.," and though this is true, once students dig in, searching for research validating their stance - approaching this from a historical mindset, students really come to own their stance, seeing this matter from other viewpoints.

In this packet of materials, I have included a description of the topic, an outline for hosting the debate, a format for setting up debate cards, things to consider for the students - things they may not think of, a rubric, and an alternate assignment for students who are absent on debate day (I actually started out thinking "no students will miss debate day," however as we all know, students are absent for many unpredictable reasons) and finally a planning guide for how many students should do each part of the debate.

I want to note, that I never grade students on how their "team" did, or award points for the side that won, rather I focus on each student's individual role and then grade their research. I find that although this is a group activity, a group grade does not seem quite right.

My hope is that your students will be as outraged and passionate about this topic as mine were. I cannot wait for the next opportunity to host this debate topic again in my Advanced History course!
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