Want to impress your administration by bumping up the rigor of your classroom while still engaging your students?
I have found that debates are some of the most effective ways of adding the higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy (evaluative, analysis) to the classroom, if done correctly.
A poorly organized debate can result in more student yelling than learning. Through a lot of trial and error, I have come up with a variety of graphic organizers to lead students through the planning steps of Debate in order to keep them focused on their ultimate goal: presenting coherent arguments (not shouting the loudest).
This is a great way to use research skills (a huge focus on ELA Common Core) and can be completed in about a week. I typically give my students two-three days of research, one day of final prep work, and one day to hold debates.
Included in this packet:
-Graphic organizer of Debate Vocabulary. This is a great way to get students started with debates. Have them research the definitions in order to understand the true purpose of a debate. (They may be surprised to find out that an "arguement" isn't just a fight, but a key point to support a resolution!)
-Graphic organizer to plan Debate. This two-page document presents each of the steps students need to go through when planning a debate in the order they will actually present them. It begins with a blank space for them to fill in their topic and side (proponent/opponent). Next, there are sections for students to fill in their introduction, 3 arguements (with special sections for supporting evidence), a counter argument and a conclusion.
-Audience Feedback Form. While groups are presenting their debates, have your other students analyze their strengths and weaknesses with this simple to use feedback form. Use this if you are just starting debates.
-Debate Voting Form. If you want to bump up the audience participation, this voting form provides more explicit instructions for the audience, as well as a rubric to grade each debate team with. Use this if you want to find a winner of a debate.
For a detailed description on how I use this product in my own classroom, check out my blog entry: