Project URL: http://teachnet-lab.org/berkowitz/debate/
Great Debate incorporates the persuasive genre that
is so important on the junior high/high school levels. It trains students
to research, organize, prepare, present, analyze, and question in
cooperative peer groups. Students research the Internet for necessary
information to prove their stance on a specific topic and apply the
information to the arguments that they face in the debate arena. They
actually learn how to “listen” to an opposing point of
view and verbally react in a well- thought-out, incremental fashion.
This project was used while teaching "A Raisin in the Sun"
by Lorraine Hansberry because of the feminism, racism, and other explosive
issues that are presented in the play.
Great Debate is designed to attend to the speaking,
listening, and viewing educational standards, as it teaches students
how to function in the debate format. It addresses the persuasive
genre of information processing.
Computers with Internet access and printers are necessary
for document retrieval for debate preparation. Additionally, a computer
projector and screen are appropriate in order to show videos of actual
debates that are available on the Web.
The target populations for this project are grades 6-12. The students
should be comfortable writing a “point” paper (persuasive
essay) and equally skilled in Internet research before attempting
the debate process. General education students, English language learners,
and special education students will benefit from the heterogeneous,
cooperative learning groups as well as the speaking/listening/viewing
skills that are incrementally developed.
The Great Debate has many ”‘best”
features. It trains students to be receptive and tolerant of opposing
ideas and to respond to them in a well-thought-out fashion. The cooperative
learning groups, coupled with the necessity for a consensus among
team members, is a skill for life. Internet research, interpretation
of research, and organization of a response are “mandatory”
skills that are used in all phases and levels of academia as well
as business and trade. Teachers will find the materials user-friendly
and easy to implement.
Teachers should create heterogeneous groups so that all students
will want to work to capacity. Make sure that all students have a
role or job within their groups. Discourage team members from monopolizing
the debate arena.
About the teacher:
As a literacy teacher and coach in Ditmas IS 62 in Brooklyn, NY,
Elissa Berkowitz composes projects and curriculum that are used throughout
the school. Because she teaches through the grades (grades four through
college) her expertise in content as well as writing strategies helps
her students and fellow teachers. She only wishes that she would be
able to type faster.