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Creative Debate

Creative Debate is a role-playing exercise. Students assume a specific point of view and debate a controversial topic from this perspective. Creative Debates promote both critical thinking and tolerance of opposing views.

Steps to Creative Debate:

  1. Discuss the rules for debate with the class. Have students suggest guidelines. Once a consensus is reached, post the rules for quick reference.

  2. Suggest a topic for debate or allow the students to select a topic. If the topic requires research, allow the students to gather and organize information before the debate.

  3. Divide the class into three groups. Select two groups to participate in the debate. The third group acts as observers. Rearrange the classroom so that opposing groups face one another and the observers sit to the side.

  4. Provide a reading selection that states one of the positions on the debate topic. Assign one group to argue for the selection; the other group argues against.

  5. Each student selects a character from the past or present that represents their position in the debate. (Teachers may want to suggest a list of characters to speed up this process.)

  6. Have each student introduce himself as the character to the class and then argue the topic from the perspective of this character. Encourage students to "act out" the character's personality (speech patterns, mannerisms, etc.).

  7. Each group presents their positions for ten minutes. Allow extra time for rebuttals.

  8. Next, ask the student teams to switch their positions and argue the opposing viewpoint. (Perhaps the group of observers might change places with one of the other groups.) Repeat the debate and rebuttal process.

  9. At the end of the debate, ask students to reflect on their experiences. Raise questions like . . .

    • Did you find it difficult to argue from both perspectives in the debate?
    • What did you learn from this experience?
    • Did your own views and opinions change?
    • How would you approach a similar debate in the future?

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