Last updated on: 2/27/2015 | Author:

Judging the Arguments in a Debate – Lesson Plan Idea


Judging the Arguments in a Debate – Overview


Use a micro site to help students evaluate debate claims and examine their own reasoning.

Grades: 7-10

The Activity


Print out the list of pro and con statements from a micro site (one full list for each student). Cut apart the statements and sort the pieces into two piles, one of pros and one of cons. Shuffle each pile until they are well mixed. Place each complete set of two piles in its own container.

Give each student one of these sets and ask them to create matches of one pro and one con that address two sides of the same argument. For each match, they should pick which argument is stronger, and justify their reasoning in writing. They should assign a point to each argument they select, and, at the end of the exercise, tally the total to see which side of the debate had the stronger arguments overall. Make sure students have plenty of space to lay out all the statements and move everything around, allowing them to take full advantage of the kinesthetic nature of the activity. If desired, you can also provide a note-taking template for students to track answers and thoughts. When complete, go over answers as a class and ask students to explain their reasoning to each other.

——————————– Topics: Vaccines, Death Penalty, Church and Taxes or any of the available debate topics.

Subjects: English / ELA / Language Arts, Social Studies, Public Policy, Communication, Composition

Common Core Anchor Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.5, CCRA.R.8, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.8, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

Common Core Content Standards: RI.1, RI.5, RI.6, RI.8, W.1, W.9, SL.1


Make the lesson easier

  • Ask students to complete this task in mixed-ability pairs or small groups.
  • Provide tape for students to finalize their pairings and forgo any note-taking.
  • Have students match the pros and cons and pick the winners as a class.

Make the lesson harder

  • Provide students with only pro or only con statements and ask students to rank arguments within each set as opposed to matching them up against each other.
  • Provide the students with one set of pros and cons shuffled together and ask them to sort the arguments into piles before starting the activity.
Related Links


  1. Lesson Plan Ideas with Common Core Correlations
  2. Teachers’ Corner