We do sort of a formal debate. We divide the students into pro and con sides, and then into an opening statement team and a rebuttal team. We provide them with points on both sides of the argument and give them class time to get ready for the debate.
Working in their groups, the students really learn the arguments that surrounded this issue back in 1766 as they discuss which to use, how to add details, and how to present them verbally. But, they also have an opportunity to learn to work productively on a time-sensitive project, to be focused listeners, and to express their ideas. Our 4th graders love to talk, so it's often difficult for them to work out how to take turns. When we have the actual debate, which last for 5 to 10 minutes, they get prompt feedback from the judges, who are administrators or teachers. The judges give thoughtful comments about all aspects of the debate, from how clearly and persuasively the arguments were presented, to how the non-speaking 4th graders, whose job it is to be silently supportive, behaved.
So today was our first work session and it was a typical noisy time. There were lots of questions about what to focus on, what the persuasive points meant, and how to keep team members calm and on task. Progress was made!
|Hard at work on rebuttal planning|