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Video: One Way to Rock Out CCSS-Friendly, In-class Debates

By Dave Stuart Jr.

In this video, I walk through how I went about preparing for and carrying out our second in-class debate of the school year.

Why spend time debating?

Debates are very CCSS friendly — they make argumentative writing (W.CCR.1) a lot easier, they require collaboration (SL.CCR.1), evaluation (SL.CCR.3), clarity (SL.CCR.4), and it's super awesome when they incorporate complex texts that you've had students closely read (R.CCR.10, R.CCR.1) or research that students have done on their own (R.CCR.7).

How do you debate?

In the comments section, either here on this blog post or over on YouTube, I'd love it if you'd share how you've successfully connected debating with argumentative writing in your classroom. Also, I will happily award extra swag points if you respond with a video of your own!

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11 Responses to Video: One Way to Rock Out CCSS-Friendly, In-class Debates

  1. Erica Beaton (@B10LovesBooks) September 23, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I love getting glimpses of your classes in action. I can’t wait to apply these techniques to our second debate this week.

    Below are links to my sophomore Humanities classes’ first debates. I’m framing this one kind of as a pre-test, if you will, since I wanted to see what they could do before any instruction (i.e. what they remembered from your class last year).

    Anyway, we’re going to watch our own debates this week, as I’m going to coach them to identify and evaluate their points of strength and areas of growth. This way, I hope, they’ve have a deeper understanding of true academic argumentation.



    Thanks for the inspiration and accountability on this one!

    • davestuartjr September 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      Rock on, Erica! You did an awesome job capturing your debates, and I look forward to hearing about how the post-debate coaching went — what did students tend to notice as their strengths and weaknesses?
      Again, these videos are awesome — thanks for sharing!

  2. mjt7280 September 24, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Awesome video, Dave! I have one quick question – How many days do you dedicate to an activity like this? My school runs on 50-minute class periods, and I’m wondering how long a structured debate like this would take. I’m thinking 3 to 4 class periods or so. What do you think? Also, you mentioned that this was your second debate. How many times in a grading period (quarter or semester) would you hold these debates?

    • davestuartjr September 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

      Thanks Mike! The debate itself took a single 70 minute class period; if I had less time, I would simply shorten the speeches slightly or allow for fewer rebuttal rounds.

      E.g., for a 50-minute period, I might do:

      Framing (5 minutes)
      Planning Phase 1 (5 minutes)
      Planning Phase 2 (3 minutes)
      Opening speeches (3 minutes X 2 = 6 minutes)
      Rebuttal round #1 (3 minute speeches X 2 = 6 minutes)
      Regrouping / Planning (2 minutes)
      Rebuttal round #2 (3 minute speeches X 2 = 6 minutes)
      Closing speeches (4 minutes X 2 = 8 minutes)
      Debrief / Reflection (5 minutes)

      This would be tight, but possible. If I wanted more debriefing time, I might only allow for one rebuttal round. I would also rework these times based on the argumentative skills I wanted students to focus on — if conclusions, I might remove a rebuttal round but allow for a planning period prior to concluding speeches; if responding to the arguments of others, I might shorten the opening and closing speeches and lengthen the planning/performance of the rebuttal rounds.

      Since I’m experimenting with arguing from texts this year, I did use my article of the week (given on Mondays and assigned as homework) as the textual basis for this debate.

      One last thing: based on debates that have been happening in other classrooms in my school this year, again and again we’re seeing that the more intentional the pre-debate process is (planning, reading, collaborating), the more high-quality the resulting debates.

      Thanks again, Mike! Have a great one.

    • davestuartjr September 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Also Mike, in response to your last question, in a 12-week trimester I probably hold 6-10 debates, and most of them are connected to some sort of written product, whether a timed piece of argumentative writing or (less frequently) a multi-draft essay.

  3. Barbara Clark January 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed the video and have one question. What grade do you teach?

    Barbara Clark

  4. Dave Stuart Jr. (@davestuartjr) January 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    Hi Barbara,

    Great question. I teach freshmen.

    Have a great day,

  5. Heather Henderson, Literacy Coach March 16, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Dave, thanks for sharing, not just your ideas but the how-to as well. You practice what you preach (model, model, model is good for teachers too!). I enjoy seeing alternatives to philosophical chairs or Socratic seminars and the non-freak out approach to all things CCSS. You rock!

    • davestuartjr March 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

      Heather, thank you for the encouragement – comments like yours motivate me to continue working here at the blog 🙂

  6. gormanhistorySusan August 18, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Thanks so much for all your work. You may also enjoy reading Discussion as a Teacher Tool. It can add so much to your class seminars.

    • davestuartjr August 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

      Susan, I’d love to check that out! Is it this book or something else?

      Thanks, Susan!

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