Five steps for preparing a debate with a class

Step 1: Brainstorm ideas 

  • Individual brainstorm – allow five minutes silent time for individual brainstorming – the pupils should write one point on each of the sticky notes. Tell them to use key words rather than full sentences.
  • Group brainstorm – each group needs a sheet of paper and a “chair”. The chair should go around the group hearing all the ideas and sticking them on the paper. Duplicated ideas get stuck on together.

Step 2: Organise ideas

  • The group then need another sheet of paper on which they write 1-9 down the side. From the brainstorm they need to identify between 7 and 9 arguments. They may have more than these so to get them down they can:
  • Scrap small or insignificant arguments
  • Join together similar arguments to make larger ones
  • On their sheet they need to write the names of the arguments. EACH NAME SHOULD BE NO LONGER THAN THREE WORDS.
  • They then need to divide the arguments between the first three speakers. The first speaker should have three arguments. The second and third speaker should have two or three arguments.  The fourth speaker does not have any new arguments.

Step Three: Structure the speeches

Introduce the idea of the speech structure on the board:

  • Introduction – who are you and what do you stand for?
  • Preview – What are the names of the points you are going to cover?
  • Rebuttal – unless you are the first speaker, you’d say “first lets take a look at what we heard from the previous speaker” and disagree with their points.
  • Point One – “Now onto my points”
    Explanation (the reasoning – why is your point true and why does it mean your overall position is right?
    Evidence (facts, analogies, examples, imagery or authority to support your reasoning)
  • Point Two – Name, Explanation, Evidence
  • Point Three – Name, Explanation, Evidence
  • Reminder – remind the audience of the three points you have covered
  • Vote for Us

Step 4: Prepare your speeches

Introduce the Idea of developing your arguments by “Making Them REAL”

  • Reason
  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Link

Choose the first speakers in each group and allow them some time to think about how to make each of their points REAL. Only allow them to write down six words for each point (in addition to the name)– it’s speaking and listening not reading out!

Choose the summary speaker and either a chair or timekeeper from each group

Step 5: Prepare the rest of the class

Whilst the first three speakers are preparing their speeches:

  • The summary speakers need to think what they think the biggest issues in the debate will be. Their speech will focus on three big issues and show why their side has won those issues.
  • The chairs, timekeepers and any other pupils should try to think what the other side might say and come up with rebuttal.



Written by Godswill Mulla

Story MakerYears Of Membership

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