Call us


Conducting a Debate
A debate is a discussion or structured contest about an issue or a resolution. A formal debate
involves two sides: one supporting a resolution and one opposing it. Such a debate is bound by
rules previously agreed upon. Debates may be judged in order to declare a winning side. Debates,
in one form or another, are commonly used in democratic societies to explore and resolve issues
and problems. Decisions at a board meeting, public hearing, legislative assembly, or local
organization are often reached through discussion and debate. Indeed, any discussion of a
resolution is a form of debate, which may or may not follow formal rules (such as Robert’s Rules
of Order). In the context of this classroom, the topic for debate will be guided by the knowledge,
skill, and value outcomes in the curriculum.
Structure for Debate
A formal debate usually involves three groups: one supporting a resolution (affirmative team),
one opposing the resolution (opposing team), and those who are judging the quality of the
evidence and arguments and the performance in the debate. The affirmative and opposing teams
will consist of five members each, while the judging will be done by the teacher, a small
group of outside educators, the class.
A specific resolution is developed and rules for the debate are established.
Debate Preparation:
• Develop the resolution to be debated
• Organize the teams
• Establish the rules of the debate, including timelines
• Research the topic and prepare logical arguments
• Gather supporting evidence and examples for position taken
• Anticipate counter arguments and prepare rebuttals
• Team members plan order and content of speaking in debate
• Establish expectations, if any, for assessment of debate.
Conducting Debate:
Debate opens with the affirmative team (the team that supports the resolution) presenting their
arguments, followed by a member of the opposing team. This pattern is repeated for all five
speakers in each team. Finally, each team gets an opportunity for rebutting the arguments of the
opponent. Speakers should speak slowly and clearly. The judges and members of the audience
should be taking notes as the debate proceeds. A typical sequence for debate, with suggested
timelines, is as follows:
• the first speaker (team lead) on the affirmative team presents arguments in support of the resolution.
(2 minutes)
• The first speaker (team lead) on the opposing team presents arguments opposing the resolution.
(2 minutes)
• The second speaker on the affirmative team presents further arguments in support of the
resolution, identifies areas of conflict, and answers questions that may have been raised
by the opposition speaker. (1 minutes)
• The second speaker on the opposing team presents further arguments against the
resolution, identifies further areas of conflict, and answers questions that may have been
raised by the previous affirmative speaker. (1 minutes)
• Each person will speak for 1 minute both on the affirmative and opposing.
• The opposing team begins with the rebuttal, attempting to defend the opposing arguments and to
defeat the supporting arguments without adding any new information.
(1 minutes)
• First rebuttal of the affirmative team (1 minutes)
• Team leads will close out the debate with an overview of why their stance is the best (2 minutes)
• There cannot be any interruptions. Speakers must wait their turns. The teacher may need
to enforce the rules.
Post-debate Discussion and Assessment
When the formal debate is finished, allow time for debriefing and discussion. Members of the
audience should be given an opportunity to ask questions and to contribute their own thoughts and
opinions on the arguments presented. Members of the debate teams may also wish to reflect on
their performance and seek feedback from the audience, including the teacher.
If some form of assessment was part of the debate plan, it would be conducted at this time.
Assessment could be conducted by the teacher, the judging team, or the entire class.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes