Classroom debate, 8th grade

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by magister, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. magister

    magister Rookie

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    Dec 1, 2009

    I'm putting together a debate topic for eighth grade: dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

    Does anyone here have information on how to conduct a classroom debate? The net sources I've found aren't specific enough.

    Thanks
     
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  3. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Dec 1, 2009

    I actually may have a handout on a classroom discussion for this. I have to check my binder at school, but its geared for my 11th grade APUSH class.

    Anyways, do you want to do a class debate with two teams or smaller debates.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 1, 2009

    I got this from the Long Island Forensic League's website, under the intructions to judges of high school debate:


    When the debaters arrive, they will usually write their code and name on the board. Copy this information onto your ballot (REMEMBER: do NOT ask for their school). Next explain how you are going to show them the passage of time. It is recommended that you always show them "2 down."
    Tell them that they may finish a sentence when time is up, but no more. If they continue, simply stop taking notes. Be assured that they will stop talking very quickly when you do that.

    D. At this time, the debate can begin. The Affirmative reads a 6-minute "Constructive" speech on the topic (AC). You should take notes ("flow"-- see "E"). After this speech the Neg. will question for 3 min. Then the Neg. will give a 7 min. "Constructive" speech (NC). This is usually divided into two parts. The first (often called the Neg. Philosophy) directly attacks the resolution for about 3-4 min. The second attacks the points that the Aff. presented. Next, the Aff. questions for 3 min. The Aff. (1AR) then has a 4 min. rebuttal, followed by a 6 min. Neg. rebuttal (NR). Finally the Aff. has a 3-min. rebuttal (2AR). In general, no new arguments should be introduced in the Rebuttal period. This is a very tricky idea. Certainly, new information (data, quotes, etc.) can be used. In addition, arguments can be EXTENDED and developed (or else the debaters would be reduced to mere repetition). However, a TOTALLY new idea should not be offered. A simple way of looking at it is as follows: the 1AR should refute the Neg. Con.; the NR should refute the 1AR, and the 2AR should refute the NR.

    E. Now turn to the "flow" sheet. On it, you can see the structure of the debate at a glance. Notice how each speech is given a column. Copy as much of each speech as possible onto the flow, placing opposing arguments next one another. That way you can see who "drops" an argument and who misinterprets another's argument; you can also check when a debater claims the opponent did not attack an argument -- just look at the flow sheet.

    F.

    H. Prep time: each debater has 5 min. in which to PREPARE before speaking. You should keep record of this and inform the debater of the amount used/left. "Charge" it to the debater as follows: BEFORE the debater speaks, it is that person's prep time. For the Neg: before the Neg. cross question, before the Neg. Con., before the Neg. Reb. For the Aff: before the Aff. Cross question, before the !AR, before the 2AR. (This is a good time to write out your ballot). If you have warned the debater that prep time has expired, and if the debater continues using prep time, deduct that amount of time from the debater's next rebuttal time.
     
  5. magister

    magister Rookie

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    Dec 3, 2009

    I think I've bitten off more than I can chew here. I just assumed having two teams go research Hiroshima and create arguments for/against the bomb. Then they'd have a team captain give a 1-2 min summary of their position. After that the pros would start with one person giving his/her argument which would then be rebutted by the cons. I'd moderate. After a rebuttal, then it would be the cons turn to argue and be rebutted. Am I track? This is more complex than I hoped it would be. I need to keep this thing simple, sweet and short.
     
  6. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Dec 3, 2009

    Magister, I think that sounds like it should work.
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Dec 3, 2009

    Make sure they have an opening to present their argument and a conclusion to conclude their ideas.
     
  8. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Dec 4, 2009

    Can do a mock trial, 2 'lawyers' on each side, rest of the class are jurors. Back and forth argument and rebuttal, argument and rebuttal. Give 'jurors' a verdict slip in which they judge the depth of facts in the argument, how convincing the arguments were, how confidently they handled the rebuttals, and overall effect. You're the judge and get to throw a gavel at them if they misbehave.

    Would need a couple more topics for other trials.
     
  9. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Dec 9, 2009

    I have no idea on how well prepared an 8th grade class would be to deal with the aspects I'm going to suggest, but I have worked with chemical ordnance and know a great deal about all types of weapons of mass destruction as well as their history.

    Some really good reading in understanding both sides of this event come from can be quickly Googled. Here's what to look for...

    1 - Understand what was going on with weapons of mass destruction at the time. Japan's Unit 731 and General Ishii is especially important, but it's a very ugly part of history. The Batan Death March, their attempts at using biological weapons, and Japan's use of POWs for medical research as well as training of medical personnel. American leaders had reports of what was going on and knew of these things when they made the decision.

    2 - The German research into Atomic weapons is important as well. We knew the Germans were working on it as we had taken many of their atomic facilities in early 1945. We assumed Japan was working on it. (In truth, they had done little to nothing but we believed otherwise.)

    3 - The casualties from our invasion of Iwo Jima and the Japanese resolve to fight to the death. (This was viewed by our leadership as a mini version of what would happen if we invaded the main land. Consider both American and Japanese survival/ casualty rates.)

    4 - The translations of Tojo's personal journals. He referred to the emporer as a coward for surrendering after the bombing of Nagasaki. (Our concerns and expectations concerning casualties from an invasion weren't unfounded.)

    5 - Russia's movements to enter the Pacific theatre and recent revelations that Japan had made attempts at dialouge. (Consideration to the fact that there may have been other options.)

    6 - The realities of the attack. A couple of the doctors from Hiroshima wrote of their experience in treating patients after the attack and it's quite an eye opening read. It gives first hand insight into what an atomic weapon attack looks like. It also dispells the myth that Japan didn't know what they were hit with. Japan's Army told them it was an atom bomb 3 days after the attack and the doctors knew exactly what that was. Our work on the bomb was secret but the theory of it being possible was extremely well known in the scientific and medical communities.

    7 - Comparison of casualties to other attacks to put the numbers into perspective. Hiroshima ranks 3rd in death toll for bombings. The bombing of Tokyo and Dresden with incendiaries killed more people than died at Hiroshima.

    8 - Probably the trickiest aspect of all.... We feared Stalin and the Russians. General Patton heavily advocated invading Russia with the fall of Berlin. Showing this weapon off was an effective statement to Russia that we weren't a country to be messed with. I don't think that this was a primary reason for choosing to use the bomb, but it was certainly in the back of many people's minds.

    I suspect that I'm talking on a 12th grade or college level, but I'm hoping you can boil this down such that 8th graders can get key concepts for both sides of the discussion
     
  10. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Dec 9, 2009

    I know you said you wanted to keep it simple, but you might want to consider this for the future:

    When I was in 8th grade, we did a mock trial of Harry Truman for war crimes and crimes against humanity. There were two lawyers on each side, who were responsible for researching as much as they could about all the people/issues involved. Then, other students became witnesses (Truman, Oppenheimer, and several others) and had to become experts on the decisions/actions their person made. Other students were the jury members. I remember this experience so well; I was a prosecution attorney and we got a conviction on one of the counts :). It was also a great way to differentiate, as different 'roles' required different levels of thinking, research, and writing skills.

    Here is a link that might be helpful:

    http://www.eduref.org/Virtual/Lessons/Social_Studies/World_History/WRH0209.html
     
  11. Terrence

    Terrence Comrade

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    Dec 29, 2009

    In AVID, we do what we call "Philosophical Chairs". If you want, I can email you the material all how to run them. I don't know if this is too simple for what you want, but basically, you pose the statement "Dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima was a good idea" or something along those lines. The desks are facing so that the opposing side is facing the side that agrees. Once you state the question, students move to either the "Agree" side, or the "Disagree" side. Call on whichever side to go first, and then a student on the opposite side should comment on the statement just given. There is also a reflection sheet to go with it. You could have them research, or print out information for them and have them read over it first before they make their decision. Then, they can highlight things as they debate.
     
  12. magister

    magister Rookie

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    Jan 3, 2010

    Thanks all for the replies. We did the debate a few weeks ago, and it went well. I eased off on it being so rigid and kept it simple; after all, we hadn't studied the art of debate much and I expected them to know a lot. Although people can always come up with good arguments for/against anything, rebutting arguments with logic is difficult. Anyway, it's over now. On to the next chapter...
     
  13. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Jan 4, 2010

    I greatly appreciate your response, but you are short on details.......and Mutt is curious as a cat (OMG....I've turned to the dark side).


    I am not looking to criticize or question you in this. I am just curious as to how it played out. This is such a great topic for debate and many are passionate about it, kids often impress me with the quality of their views. I want to hear what yours thought about this event.
     
  14. swigardanne

    swigardanne New Member

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    Jan 9, 2010

    I have no suggestio regarding this. :sorry:
     
  15. magister

    magister Rookie

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    Jan 10, 2010

    Here's how it went: The kids came in and divided into pro and con teams. The pro team captain went first, giving his opening statement, which was weak (why the pros chose him to lead is beyond me since he's a constant screw off). The cons' captain did much better. He spoke confidently and gave a credible argument. We proceeded to the debate phase. Each team member had to give two arguments and one rebuttal. I tracked this on the board. Once a member argued twice, he/she was done and could, if possible, give rebuttal. The sides went back and forth with some repetition in part. They argued well, but they didn't counter as well since it's hard to think on one's feet. When everyone was done, we packed it in. I didn't pick a winner because, given that this was my first debate and that both sides did well, it wasn't necessary. Instead, I gave each team a group grade along with their arguments written down and evaluation for opening statements.

    The key to debate is giving students plenty of prep time, exposure and practice with debate; otherwise, you'll have a group of screaming teens on your hands. I told them to think logically and to separate their emotions from their argument and not to get angry with student who they may have problems with. And that's all, folks. Thanks for the interest.
     
  16. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    Jan 12, 2010

    I really like your approach and I certainly wouldn't declare a winner to the argument. A big part of your job here is mediating the debate and a mediator can't declare a winner as that is taking sides.

    In the future, you might want to give them a rubric up front that scores how well they back up their view point with details and how well they gave rebuttal.
     
  17. looneyteachr

    looneyteachr Companion

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    Jan 14, 2010

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