Leading and moderating a discussion are important skills for students to learn. One way to help students explore debate topics, gain skills in moderating discussions, and thinking critically about topics that impact the United States can come from “Open to Debate” (formally, Intelligence Squared US Debates).
Open to Debate is a nonpartisan, debate-driven media organization dedicated to bringing multiple viewpoints together for a constructive, balanced, respectful exchange of ideas. Open to Debate is a platform for intellectually curious and open-minded people to engage with others holding opposing views on complex issues.
This podcast can be a fantastic way for students to engage in debate-related conversations. Assign students specific podcast episodes and have them lead conversations related to the subject matter. This can be a great way of starting class on Mondays.
- Active Listening and Note-Taking: Develop skills in actively listening to the podcast episode and taking comprehensive notes on the main arguments and evidence presented.
- Effective Presentation: Enhance presentation skills by summarizing the podcast episode’s content, conveying key arguments to peers, and engaging the audience with questions.
- Critical Analysis: Demonstrate critical thinking by evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments and understanding the broader implications of the debated topic.
- Divide students into small groups of 3-4 members each.
- Within their groups, students should look through the following website for a debate topic that sparks interest: https://opentodebate.org/debates/latest/#. Example topics for consideration are noted below.
- Instruct each student to listen to the selected podcast episode individually. Encourage them to take comprehensive notes while listening. Ask students to focus on the main arguments presented by both sides, key evidence or examples provided, and any counterarguments raised during the debate.
- Have everyone in the group discuss their notes from the podcast episode, exchange perspectives, and collaboratively identify the most significant points and arguments.
- Allocate a specific time slot for each group’s presentation in the classroom. As noted in the overview, have a different group present at the beginning of class on Mondays throughout the semester, and each group is allocated 20-30 minutes of class time.
- During the presentation, have students share a summary of the podcast episode, highlighting the key arguments and evidence presented by both sides of the debate. Student presenters should spark interest with questions and get the audience involved in a conversation.
- Encourage presenters to critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments, as well as any notable rebuttals.
- Students should also use visual aids, such as PowerPoint slides or handouts, to complement their presentation and engage the audience.
Presentations should be thorough, and since multiple people will be presenting, encourage collaboration and teamwork. Students should avoid reading to the class. Engage the audience and share what you learned through the podcast episode!
Recent Topic Ideas to Consider
Topic: Is Social Media bad for kids’ mental health?
Date Recorded: June 25, 2023
Topic: Should the government raise the retirement age?
Date Recorded: June 23, 2023
Topic: Will Chat GPT do more harm than good?
Date Recorded: February 24, 2023
Topic: Should the U.S. ban TikTok?
Date Recorded: February 27, 2023
Topic: Does America need a digital dollar?
Date Recorded: December 9, 2022
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