After a week’s worth of preparation, seventh graders in Mrs. Aube and Ms. Murray’s language arts classes presented claim statements and evidence on a debate topic of their choice. Debate topics were all The Hunger Games-focused, created from discussions in class, and ranged from “Which setting is the true dystopia: the Capitol or District 12?” to “Who deserved to win the Hunger Games: Cato, the antagonist, or Katniss, the protagonist?” Working individually and in small, differentiated groups, students chose a position in regard to the debate topic, wrote a claim statement to express their personal opinions with logical arguments, and gathered text-based evidence to support their claim.
In Mrs. Aube’s classes, one debate topic was chosen per class, and after dividing the class into both sides of the argument, students sparred until a winner was announced for individual rounds of debate.
In Ms. Murray’s classes, students faced head-to-head to present their claims. Not only did students embrace the art of debate in a formal setting, they worked to master new vocabulary including “counterclaim,” “rebuttal,” “clarify,” and “second” to guarantee the success of the debates.
Mrs. Aube and Ms. Murray hope to use this initial debate as a platform for larger scale demonstrations of the students’ ability to write, research, and present claims.