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We've seen students doing a
debate, or perhaps been invited to judge a debate, but how could we get
our students to perform such a feat?
How to do a
I thought their were 3
things my students would need to try this out. 1) A hot topic. 2) a
whole class awareness of the issues surrounding this topics, and 3) the
language to piece an argument together.
I had an idea for how to deal with the material. I had
heard the term 'Active Reading'. The active reading
thing was basically using pre-reading activities to touch
on (activate) known relevant vocab,ulary items and then following up
with some post-reading activities
aimed at overall comprehention, but the way I did it involved the
students paraphrasing the main points of a text and collaborating an
understanding. If the text were about a controversial issue, it would
be perfect ammo for a debate.
Anyway, you can see below the stages I tried. It worked!
Click here for my idea of an 'Active
Why do a debate
1) The have Ss comprehend and use key vocabulary in a clear context.
2) To develop skills of expression and assertiveness in English.
3) To develop general awareness on the topic.
select students write a topic on the board and then took a vote as to
which one we would do. They chose "Japan's self defence force
being deployed to Iraq."
texts with opposing viewpoints.
wrote up two texts with opposite opinions fairly easily. Doing the
intensive reading activities below using these texts would cover the
topic itself fairly thoroughly, thus consolidating a whole-class
awareness of the issues involved in the topic.
Click here to see 'For', and
here to see 'Against.'
Do pre-reading prediction activity to activate previous knowledge on
them skim the text for 3 minutes and then had select students write on
the board two things: 1) What they thought the main point was, and 2)
Something they predict they would see if they read more closely. Then
after a second reading (8 mins), checked to see if they were right.
Follow readings with Q's aimed at comprehension. Ss write own answers
as T paraphrases, and reads out answers of students who finished
At the end of the passage there were some questions listed. Giving the
students a little time to look over the question, one by one I would
say out the answer, paraphrasing, so as not to use the exact phrases
that were in the passage. Once a few of the students had started to
write their own answers, I started peaking over their shoulders and
read them out slowly, encouraging the slower students to borrow the
sentence as their answer.
Have Ss summarize main points of both texts using a graphic organizer.
groups of 4, I had them go back over both texts and summarize the
points of the sides arguement on a 'Graphic Organizer', sheets very
useful for brain storming and such. Since there were 2 sides to
this arguement they had to fill out two organizers. This got them to
reinforce the phrases they would use later when the debate would start.
At this point, they were only writing fragments, just enough identify
Click here to download my 'Graphic
class into 'for' and 'against'.
Odds were 'for',
evens 'against'. Students that had a preference could switch as long as
the number came out even in the end.
Have Ss compile/prepare their points/opinions on blank sheet.
they used their organizers to prepare their own arguement. Some
students were able to add things and construct their own paragraph,
some just came up with a string of a few sentences. They had only
written phrases on the organizers so this gave themn a chance for some
Ss individually present points. Other Ss prepare rebuttals on
graphic cluster sheet from before. ( the side they are against ).
students needed a chance to come up and say their point once as
practice. This also gave the other students a chance to imagine what
they would say against them.
Pairs battle in a tournament style. Pairs turn around, other Ss vote
by hand on winner.
2 students would come up and battle. They would be asked to face their
back to the class while raised hands were counted as to "who had a
This really worked well and It took about 5 classes to
finish. I really felt the students picked up a lot of language and had
a chance to use it for themselves, thus transffering ownership of the
language in the text over to the students.