This is one of my favorite activities! I have done this each semester over the course of seven years and it has proven to be very enriching for the students.
This product is included in a Government projects and simulations Unit here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Government-activities-projects-simulations-and-video-clips
In short, students form groups of four. They choose a topic from the long list of potential debate topics. Once their group agrees on a topic, they divide up the group into a con side (2 students) and a pro side (2 students). They do research during class time (and some outside as well) in the computer lab, putting together a PowerPoint with plenty of data and facts to support their argument. However, they do not present their PPT to the class when they are ready to debate.
When the debates are ready to take place, each group will present in the middle of the classroom. Place all of the desks in a circle around the 4 desks that are in the middle. Have two desks facing another two desks in the middle (this is for the debaters). The debaters will use their PPT notes to assist them in debating their opponents. Once again, the PowerPoint will not be projected for the class to see (you could do this, but it is not necessary).
The key is to keep the audience participation controlled and organized. I suggest a Speaker's List, and also allow them to pass notes to their peers during the debates (this seems odd, but it truly cuts down on the side chatter while the debaters are doing their thing in the middle of the circle).
This Debate Project handout includes the following:
1. An overview of the project.
2. A slide-by-slide detailed depiction of what is supposed to be included on each of the ten slides.
3. Details about the audience participation and the professional attire.
4. A Student Checklist: this is important because it allows the teacher to determine who contributed what, essentially to use as one tool in assessing what each individual student contributed to his/her group.
5. A list of about thirty potential debate topics for students to choose from.
6. A detailed rubric
7. Hall passes for students to use while conducting their interviews and surveys around campus.
8. A debate reflection
9. A STUDENT POWERPOINT SAMPLE! This is an "A" project.
This product is licensed for use in one classroom. For additional discounted licenses if the product will be used in more than one classroom, please click on "Buy Multiple Licenses." Thank you for your interest in my store!
9 pages and 15 PPT slides