Debate is an excellent activity for language learning because it engages students in a variety of cognitive and linguistic ways.
The purpose of this paper is to elaborate upon this point by providing a step-by-step guide that will give teachers everything they need to know for conducting debate in an English class. In addition to providing meaningful listening, speaking and writing practice, debate is also highly effective for developing argumentation skills for persuasive speech and writing.
Ostensibly, she was challenging them to take a crack at two things they hadn’t yet learned in math—multiplying and dividing fractions.
But actually, she was teaching critical thinking.“To practice what to do when we don’t know how to solve something,” one student said.
Another added, “To solve real-world problems.” Yet another quipped, “To reach our common goal—make it to middle school.”At Two Rivers, a pre K-to-8 Expeditionary Learning, or EL, school founded in 2004, that business includes embedding critical thinking in the school’s culture—or as Jeff Heyck-Williams, director of curriculum and instruction, says, “making it a habit of mind.”“We don’t teach standalone lessons on critical thinking,” he adds.
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“We introduce it at the beginning of the year, but then it just becomes part of the shared language.
The six-class unit described in this paper contains an outline, principles and materials for conducting a debate.
Because there are few published debate materials for non-native speakers, the teacher needs to develop and adapt materials to suit their situational needs.
A fourth-grade project had students studying the environmental challenges facing a nearby river, then coming up with ways to preserve a sense we were teaching kids critical thinking skills, but we didn’t have any way of defining, quantifying or even qualifying what those skills were,” Heyck-Williams recalls. Maybe we should be teaching that more explicitly.’”Starting five years ago, Two Rivers was given nonprofit funding to develop a critical thinking curriculum along with assessment tools.
First, it came up with a broad-ranging definition, which is on the school’s website: “We define critical thinking and problem solving as the broadly applicable cognitive skills that people use in constructing knowledge, identifying patterns, formulating arguments, and solving problems.”“Early on, teachers see ‘motivated reasoning,’ where a kid has a penchant for making whatever claim and then cherry-picks evidence to support it,” Heyck-Williams says. So how do we teach kids to slow down and evaluate the evidence with a more objective eye, and then make a claim based on the evidence?