What are the key characteristics of a pro/con debate?
What are some strategies you will use to prepare for this type of debate?
Once students have completed the tutorial, they should be able to brainstorm the categories of information they will need to prepare for their pro/con debate. Categories may include:
Background or contextual information
The main points of both the pro and con arguments
Evidence to support the main argument (both pro and con)
Evidence for rebuttal
Evidence for concluding statement
Once students are familiar with the stages of a pro/con debate and the type of research that will be required, divide the class into pairs or small groups. Each pair or group will select a ProCon topic to explore in-depth. Each pair or group should flip a coin or draw pro/con tokens from a box to determine who will represent each side of their chosen topic. Students in small groups should also decide who will present their side’s opening, main, rebuttal, and concluding statements.
While research the issue on ProCon.org, students should make use of the supporting pages as well as the pro and con arguments associated with the selected topic. For example, students researching the pros and cons of medical marijuana would find useful information in the Historical Timeline to help establish precedent for the use of marijuana as medical treatment. Students seeking even more in-depth information should consult the ProCon.org articles and fact sheets under Recommended to You in the right hand sidebar.
As students gather information on their topic, remind them to keep a record of their sources. During the debate, students should be able to point to trustworthy sources to support their arguments and help the audience make an informed decision.
Part 2: To prepare themselves for addressing an audience, students should view the video Presenting Information on their own and be ready to discuss the following questions in the next class session:
How can understanding your audience help you prepare an effective presentation?
What factors should you keep in mind when assessing your audience?
Once students understand how the audience affects the tone and content of a presentation, students should use the following prompts to analyze the audience of their upcoming pro/con debate:
How familiar is my audience with the debate topic?
What terms or concepts may require explanation?
What type of evidence would be most effective (visuals, audio, etc)?
Next, students should outline their debate statements (opening, main, rebuttal, and conclusion), keeping their audience considerations in mind. Students should also identify and explain any terms or concepts that may be unfamiliar to their audience.
Once students feel confident with their statement drafts, they will practice delivering their statements in front of their peers. Practice can be done in pairs or small groups. Students should be able to provide each other with feedback on content, tone, and nonverbal behaviors using these prompts:
Is the presenter’s argument compelling?
What types of evidence does the presenter draw on?
Are there any terms or concepts that were unclear or unfamiliar?
How would you describe the presenter’s tone?
Are there any terms or concepts that were unclear or unfamiliar?Does the presenter’s body language support their performance?
ProCon.org Topic: Can be adapted to any ProCon.org topic.
Subjects: Social Studies, Public Policy, Civics, American Government, Communication, English