Front page > Lesson Plans > Language Arts > General > Raging Debates
As we near the end of the year, tempers are hot and everyone is stressed. As students complete final assignments and tests, you may be searching for a constructive classroom activity that doesn't require a high level of planning. Consider a debate! Tackle a current event or a legal battle and you're sure to start a conversation. Before you jump in though, consider these tips from some of our T2T contributors...

"My student teacher taught me something about class debates this spring. She did the standard thing, dividing the class into groups and assigning them a side to support for the topic they were debating--but then she introduced a new concept. The student statements had to alternate--pro/con, pro/con--on the issue, and the way you got to talk was to gain possession of a little stuffed dog (like a beanie baby) that the teacher brought with her that day. When you had the dog, you had the floor. The kids were wonderful! They didn't interrupt each other, they waited until the dog was tossed to them before they spoke, and they had time to develop the points they wanted to make before they signaled to have the dog tossed to them. They had to stand while they spoke, and could talk as long as they held the dog. In the course of a 15-minute debate, every student in the class spoke, even the ones who normally are silent in class discussion. It was a terrific idea--and the kids loved it. The physical movement involved in tossing the dog, the occasional giggles that resulted from a poor or mis-aimed toss--all combined to make this a delightful, substantive debate. I plan to use this technique next year. I'll be using a duck--but I think it will work equally well." -Karen

"Maybe you could just split the group and assign them roles to play. (On the topic of "Violence in Films") One group could be actors, the other a group of concerned parents. One group could be directors, the other teens who want tighter regs; one group could be industry execs, the other a group of movie critics. Or.........try any combination of the above. Once the groups have been assigned, you could just propose a resolution that you create. Then, the debate could start from there." -Wade

"You might have them write out their thoughts from both points of view. In that way they have 1. thought of counter arguments and 2. they are ready when you randomly assign them a side to defend. I've done it with my 5th graders and it works out ok." -"firedancer"

 


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submitted by Bonita Slipke

A Friend

In Kindergarten your idea of a good friend was the person who let you have the red crayon when all that was left was the ugly brown one.

In 1st grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to the bathroom with you and held your hand as you walked through the scary halls.

In 2nd grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you to stand up to the class bully.

In 3rd grade your idea of a good friend was the person who shared their lunch with you when you forgot yours on the bus.

In 4th grade your idea of a good friend was the person who was willing to switch square-dancing partners in gym so you wouldn't have to be stuck do-si-doing with Nasty Nick or Smelly Samantha.

In 5th grade your idea of a friend was the person who saved a seat on the back of the bus for you.

In 6th grade your idea of a friend was the person who went up to your new crush and asked them to dance with you, so that if they said no you wouldn't have to be embarrassed.

In 7th grade your idea of a friend was the person who let you copy the social studies homework from the night before that you had not done.

In 8th grade your idea of a friend was the person who helped you pack up your stuffed animals and old soccer cards so that your room would be "high schooler" room, but didn't laugh at you when you finished and broke into tears.

In 9th grade your idea of a good friend was the person who went to that "cool party" thrown by a senior so that you would not be the only freshman there.

In 10th grade your idea of a good friend was the person who drove you to school before you could drive so you wouldn't have to ride the bus.

In 11th grade your idea of a good friend was the person who convinced your parents that you shouldn't be grounded, consoled you when you broke up with your sweetie, made time for you even when they had a sweetie.

In 12th grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you pick out a college, assured you that you would get into that college, helped you deal with your parents who were having a hard time adjusting to the idea of letting you go.

At graduation your idea of a good friend was the person who was crying on the inside but managed the biggest smile one could give as they congratulated you.

The summer after 12th grade your idea of a good friend was the person who helped you clean up the (root beer) bottles from the party, helped you sneak out of the house when you just couldn't deal with your parents, helped you pack for college and just silently hugged you as you looked through blurry eyes at 18 years of memories you were leaving behind.

Now, your idea of a good friend is still the person who gives you the better of two choices, holds your hand when you're scared, helps fight off those who try to take advantage of you, thinks of you at times when you are not there, reminds you of what you have forgotten, helps you put the past behind you but understands when you need to hold on to it a little longer, stays with you so that you have confidence, goes out of their way to make time for you, helps you clear up your mistakes, helps you deal with pressure from others, smiles for you when you are sad, helps you become a better person, and most importantly loves you!

THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND. No matter where we go or who we become, may we never forget those who helped us get there. There is never a wrong time to pick up the phone or send a message telling your friends how much you miss them or how much you love them.