Etai 2000 Workshop: The Value of Debate in Today’s World

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ETAI 2000 Workshop:
The Value of Debate in Today’s World

Workshop Leader: Jennifer Sternlicht

Model Debate Performed by: Talya Gillis

members of Siach V’Sig Daniella Friedman

Chairman, Asher Weil Aryeh Lehrer Rafi Nulman

Elana Engel

Noam Lokshin

Booklet of Hand-outs:
1) Choosing topics and Pre-debate Exercises:

Hand-out 1 “Excellent Internet Sites and Resources for Debate Topics”

Hand-out 2 “Opinion Survey/ Exercise 1”

Hand-out 3 “Exercises 2 &3”

  1. Types of Debates:

Hand-out 4 “Parliamentary Style Debates”

Hand-out 5 “Value, or Lincoln-Douglas Style Debate”

Hand-out 6 “Policy Debates”

Hand-out “Debating and Courtroom Objections”

Hand-out 8 “Useful Sites on Debate Procedure”

3)Assessing Debates:

Hand-out 9 “Debate Evaluation Rubric”

Hand-out 10 “Self-Assessment for a Debater”

Excellent Internet Sites and Resources for Debate Topics:


This is an excellent site for hesitant teachers thinking about starting to use debate in the classroom and for experienced teachers tired of re-inventing the wheel. The site is developed and updated daily by the NY Times in conjunction with the Bank Street School of Education. Here you will find full lesson plans for grades 3-12 on a variety of topics. If you write debate as the search term in the Lesson Plan Search section of the site page, you will be forwarded to over 80 lesson plans developed around controversial topics. Each topic includes an article from the NY Times, questions for comprehension, methods for framing the debate topic and follow-up activities. As an educator’s resource it also includes Standards/ Rubrics etc.- fully in line with the NEW CURRICULUM!


Public Agenda is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public opinion research and citizen education organization. Drawing on its research, Public Agenda prepares a broad array of educational materials that help explain policy issues to the public in a balanced and easy-to-understand way. Issues covered include: Abortion / Alcohol Abuse /Crime/ The Economy/ Education / The Environment/The Family/Gambling/ Illegal Drugs / Internet Speech/Privacy

Each issue is divided into two sections: Understanding the Issue and Public Opinion. Within Understanding the Issue, I suggest you go straight to:

Framing the Debate - which offers several perspectives on the issue. You can read a short or longer version of the perspective- which is an excellent way of dividing the work in a heterogeneous class! To assign in depth research on a topic go to: Sources and Resources -an extensive list of research resources.

This web page was created to by the Public Library in Multnomah County Portland, Oregon, for use by middle and high school students researching current social issues from multiple perspectives. It contains a thorough and well balanced selection of articles and materials..


Policy. Com is an extensive and inexhaustible resource for articles on controversial topics. This site is best used as a research resource for advanced and Native Speaker classes.

Exercise 1 Opinion Survey
How important are these issues to you? Circle the position that best describes your opinion.
Strongly Support Support Neutral Against Strongly Against


1. Do you think all 18 year olds should be allowed to choose between doing community service and army duty? SS S N A SA

2. Do you think dress codes (or uniforms) are important at school?


3. Should songs be censored from being aired on the radio if their lyrics are considered objectionable? SS S N A SA

4. Should all workers be allowed to strike? SS S N A SA

5. Is it important to continue having specialized High Schools (where students take a test to get in)? SS S N A SA

6. Should human cloning be allowed? SS S N A SA

7. Should teenagers have curfews (be required to be home between 23:00 and 6:00)? SS S N A SA

8. Should students be required to do volunteer service in order to graduate high school? SS S N A SA

9. Should women be allowed to fight in combat units in the army?


10. Should historical fiction movies and books be held to a standard of accuracy? SS S N A SA

Pre-Debate Exercises

Exercise 2
Choose two of the issues from the survey that really concern you. Why are you concerned about these issues? Do you feel neutrally about any of the issues? Why?

Exercise 3 - In groups
Choose one issue from the survey:

  1. In one sentence, write the group’s opinion about the issue.

  2. Write three reasons to support your position.

  3. Write the opposing opinion and three reasons to support it.

Group Work: Role Cards- give one role to each member of the group
Leader and Facilitator- Encourage each person to contribute to the discussion. Make sure the discussion moves forward and each part of the assignment is done.

Secretary- 1)Write your group’s position in one sentence.

2)Write 3 reasons to support the position.

3)What will the opposing viewpoint be?

  1. how will you answer it?

Speaker- Present the secretary’s record to the class.

Devil’s Advocate- Represent the opposing viewpoint to your group. Argue with their reasons.

Types of Debates:

1.Parliamentary Style Debate

The format of debate practiced at competitive debating tournaments in the Israeli Debating Society and World Debate Tournaments. A Round of Debate is an extremely simplified model parliament. As the name suggests, parliamentary debate is loosely modeled on the structure of a House of Commons (which in turn has rules very similar to those used in the British Parliament or the Knesset for that matter). Parliamentary debate is simplified down to 6 short speeches.

The Parliamentary Roles Played by the Debaters: In keeping with the model, the participants in a debate play the roles of Government and Opposition, and the debate is chaired by someone playing the role of Speaker of the House. The debaters, Speaker, and audience members are collectively referred to as members of "The House."
Referring to Each Other in the Third Person: In order to keep things from getting personal, debaters don't speak to each other directly – they have to refer to each other in the third person. In other words, instead of addressing an opponent directly with something like "Your argument is silly and makes no sense for the following reasons," the debater is forced to address his or her comments to the Speaker, and say something like "Mr. (or Madam) Speaker, the Prime Minister's argument makes no sense for the following reasons."

Alternation of Speeches and Clashing Arguments: The debate essentially consists of five speeches, which allow each side and each debater to participate in the proceedings. The Government presents a proposal(the Proposition) and tries to convince the House (everyone in the audience) that the proposal deserves the support of the House. The role of the Opposition team is to tear down the Government's proposal ("case,") and convince you that the government case deserves to be defeated. Note: Bear in mind that it is not sufficient for the Opposition to merely poke a few holes in the Government's case – the Opposition must convince the House (or more often, the Speaker, who is also the judge who fills out the ballot at the end of the round,) that the Government case is unsound and not coherent enough to convince a reasonable person.

In any case, the six speeches in a round of Parliamentary Debate alternate between Government and Opposition sides, allowing members of both teams to make constructive points (try to introduce arguments and

evidence in favor of their position,) and rebut (trash) the arguments of the

other side. Because of the alternation between sides, debaters (aside from

the Prime Minister, who speaks first,) usually start their speech by trying to

rebuild the arguments of their partner, which may have suffered some damage due to attack by a member of the other side.

This handout is a copied and edited version of information provided by Concordia University in Canada

2.Value or Lincoln-Douglas(L-D) Style Debate
This type of debate is gaining popularity among High School and College tournaments in the United States. In my opinion it is most readily adaptable for use in the classroom.

The first L-D debate was the debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas regarding the issue of slavery. Like any good L-D topic, this one had no clear cut answer determinable by reams of evidence and instead could be proven only in the terms of historical precedent, moral values, and definition. (e.g.: if we define slaves as men then by the moral values reflected in the historically proven U.S. Declaration of Independence, they, too, are created equal and should be treated as such).

Debate Structure:

Affirmative- 6 minutes/ Negative- 6 minutes/ Affirmative Rebuttal- 4 minutes/ Negative Rebuttal and Conclusion- 7 minutes/Affirmative Rebuttal and Conclusion- 3 minutes

In the first speech the Affirmative reads their case, and the negative flows and thinks of arguments against the case. In the second speech the negative FIRST reads his or her case, then refutes their opponent's case. Remember this when writing the negative speech- it needs to be 3-4 minutes long or less to allow time for refutation. This is the only chance to bring up new arguments, so be certain to refute any major points your opponent brings up.

Rebuttals: No new points may be brought up in these speeches.

Content of First Speeches:

1st Affirmative (Proposition) and 1st Negative(Con) Speeches have:

2-5 main points (preferably three), an introduction, a conclusion, revolves around a focused central thesis, and flows easily from point to point.

1. The Introduction.

The introduction is designed to catch the judge's attention. It can be a quote or original descriptive paragraph, analogy, or just about anything else. It should lead directly to your side of the resolution, one of your points, or your value. It is best to end the introduction with the resolution, stating something like: For this reason and those that follow, I stand firmly in support of today's resolution, that...

2. Definitions. Definitions are a central theme of L-D debate. The point is not where it came from, but which definition best suits the topic and makes the most sense. It is wise to define almost every word in the resolution. Remember the whole point of the original L-D debate was whether or not slaves were defined as human beings.

3.Values: The value is the most important (and confusing) part of the round. Essentially, a value is a principle or standard by which you evaluate the resolution. Sample Values: Individualism- The value of the individual, furtherance and growth of the individual; Utilitarianism-The greatest good for the greatest number of people; Life- Refers to life itself, with inherent value regardless of quality; Quality of Life- Refers to the condition of living; Freedom; Progress- Development or improvement in knowledge or skill (opposite of stagnation); Quality of the Future (non-traditional value)- Doing not necessarily what's best for NOW, but definitely will benefit us later; Global Security: Not blowing up the world; Justice- Use of authority to uphold what is correct or true; Human Dignity-The individual ethics which make us human and not animals nor slaves.
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3.Policy Debates (also known as Cross-Examination Debate)
The structure has been modified for use in the classroom.
Structure Explained:

The Affirmative Constructive(AC) is 8 minutes maximum. During this speech, the first Affirmative Speaker reads the case. A case must include the need for change in the status quo, the applicability of the proposal to the problem, and the effectiveness and practicality of enforcing the change. The Affirmative case must satisfy all the requirements to be a valid case. Cross-examination, or CX, is 3 minutes maximum. During this time, the Second Negative Speaker asks the First Affirmative Speaker questions about the affirmative case. Often the questions are for clarification.

The Negative Constructive (NC) is 8 minutes maximum. This speech, by

the first Negative Speaker, should outline what arguments will be brought up. Counter plans, and arguments about terms or topicality should be brought up now. CX is 3 minutes maximum. During this time, the AC asks the NC questions.

The easiest way to remember who should ask questions is that the examiner never asks questions before his/her own speech. This provides the partner with time to prepare arguments for their upcoming speech. During CX, you are allowed to ask opposing teams for their evidence.
Affirmative Rebuttal(AR) Speech, is 8 minutes maximum. It must answer all the arguments brought up by the NC. It is a good idea to support your speech with evidence. CX is 3 minutes maximum. The NC asks the AR questions.
Negative Rebuttal(NR) Speech is 8 minutes maximum. It can bring up new arguments or extend on the 1NC’s arguments. The NR is the Negative's last chance to bring up new evidence. CX is 3 minutes maximum. This is the last CX of the entire debate round. It is asked by the AR to the NR.
Negative Concluding Speech is 5 minutes maximum. Notice that up until

this point, the teams have taken turns speaking.

Affirmative Concluding Speech is 5 minutes maximum. It is the last speech of the round. The Second Affirmative speaker should sum up the round, convince the judge to vote Affirmative, and give an overview of the round.
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Debating and Courtroom Objections
Ambiguous- question is vague, uncertain in meaning, or capable of being

understood in more than one way.

Asked and Answered- should be used to stop repetitive questioning.
Argumentative- opposing team is badgering the speaker into

changing his argument

Assumes facts not in evidence- the question may trap the opposing team into

affirming the truth of the assumed fact, without meaning to do so.

Badgering- the opposing team is asking questions in such a way that is

intimidating or upsetting the speaker.

Calls for speculation- speaker is asked to just guess at the answer.
Irrelevant- unconnected with the case.
Multiple questions- question is really a series of questions and the judges

may be confused as to which question is being answered.

Repetitive questions- question needlessly repeats prior questions without

adding to the evidence. The question has previously been asked and answered.

Useful Sites on Debate Procedure

This is an elementary site which spells out classroom procedure in a debate.


Ready- made Debate Evaluation Rubric which can be used to assess debates.


Effective Speaking in a Debate: An AskERIC Lesson Plan about dealing with stage fright.

This site details the process of running a Parliamentary style debate (the Israeli Debating Society is modeled on this form).


This site has the most detailed and comprehensive information for all aspects of debate including learning to build an outline, flowcharting, etc. There are audio and video clips of live debates for use in the language lab or computer room.

Debate Evaluation Rubric
Proposition Team:

The team was well organized - each team member had a substantial and fairly equal role.

The speeches were clearly organized. The arguments were easy to follow.


Opposition Team:

The team was well organized - each team member had a substantial and fairly equal role.

The speeches were clearly organized. The arguments were easy to follow.


*NA= Not used in Parliamentary Style Debates; used only in Policy or Value Debates.

Self-Assessment for a Debater
Name__________________________ Date:__________________________
Put an “x” in the box that best describes your speech.






1. I outlined my speech.

9. My audience was interested in what I had to say.

What have you learned about yourself as a speaker?

Next time…

What will you do differently?

Handout based on ETNI Portfolio Guide - “Self Assessment of an Oral Report”

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