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Debating and persuading

Debating and persuading

If emotion is the basis of a great speech, then debating or persuading offers the opportunity for greatness to be achieved.  While you may have no desire to set up a formal debate within your class, practising the skills of developing an argument or holding a point of view can be an important part of demonstrating understanding [in assessment] across other curriculum areas, and certainly provides a rich opportunity to develop student thinking.

Working in a cross curricular manner also offers a solution to our often overcrowded curriculum, so opportunities for debate can be slotted within student inquiries, with the teaching of the pre-requisite skills meeting the oral literacy skills at the same time.  The planning and preparation that may be required can also tick the box of teaching for persuasive writing as many of the skills are the same.

Before students can focus on their oral debating skills, they need to do plenty of work on developing an opinion, forming a logical argument, considering opposing viewpoints in order to provide a counter argument and developing their persuasive skills through playing on emotion.  Many of the thinking skills can contribute much to the development of this phase of debate preparation.  De Bono's Thinking Hats and CoRT Thinking can be used to develop ideas around varying points of view, Tony Ryan's Thinkers Keys can be used to develop critical and creative ideas.  Following the above link will also take you to an app that has been developed to assist with this style of thinking.
Thinking skills  

Other software, web 2.0 tools and apps can also be used to assist students with developing their ideas in preparation for debating.  
Any mindmapping tool will assist so you could try these ones

Debate prep
 
In addition to mindmapping tools, specific argument mapping tools are also available, one such being "Rationale". Currently a free 7 day trial is available for download on PC computers with licence cost for the full version being $99. An online version is in its beta phase and will be available for all platforms (including Macs) by July 2014.  From April 2014 you can email the developers to request the opportunity to use the beta version.  More information is available on the Rationale Website.
 
The software allows users to map out arguments considering all views and the reasoning that supports those views.  Here is an explanation of the software from the download site.
 
Argument mapping software

Once the preparation phase has been completed, students then need to think about how they present their argument or point of view.  In an informal discussion setting, students need to be prepared to interact with others in the discussion, taking turns, considering points of view that are in opposition, working out when to modify a stance and when to and how to effectively refute the argument being raised in opposition and counter strategically.

In a presentation style point of view speech, students can more effectively prepare and practise, working on pausing, volume, tone, eye contact and body language.  In a formal debate they will also need to allocate a particular theme to each speaker and prepare for pre-empting likely arguments (using thinking tools) that will be mounted against them so that they can be ready for rebuttal.  Humour (wit) can often be used most effectively as part of this process.  

For the latter two styles of presentation, being able to rewind and review your presentation is an important part of preparation.  Audio and video tools are very useful for being able to practice and analyse performance in private before the actual speech or debate.  Other class members can also be used to provide feedback on content, style, voice modulation, stance etc.  Using tools such as Voicethread, Podomatic, Youtube or Schooltube, Vimeo etc., will all be useful in this process.  See the section on audio and video tools for more information.
Audio & video tools  

There are a few helpful online tutorial sites for debating that will be useful for teacher and student knowledge. Here are a few for teachers to check out:

TKI - English Online - I Beg to Differ - Debating
Basic Debating Skill
s
Teacher's Guide to Introducing Debate in the Classroom
Learning to Debate- A Guide for Primary School Students ...
How to get your whole class debating 
Education World - It's up for debate
IDEA - International Debate Education Association
Annenberg Learner - Debate Workshop