"It's Up For Debate!"

February 15, 2016

History can be memorization of names, dates, and numbers, but history doesn't come to life until we start to critically think about its significance and impact. One way that we have created critical thinking within our American History class is by debating over different issues and events. Using debates within our classroom has been one of the most engaging activities we've done in class. Obviously we set some parameters to ensure that our debates remain positive and beneficial to our learning. In our debates we have talked about topics like Native Americans and Manifest Destiny where students had to analyze decisions that America made to move west. Students don't get to choose which side of the argument they are on with the initial parts of the debate. This forces them to look at the evidence regardless of their bias in the argument. As teams they get to debate against the other side of the argument with factual support from primary documents. In the attached picture you can see during our actual debate day we separate the desks to contribute to the debate environment and allow team members to collaborate with one another during the debate. At the end of the debates students do a final writing activity where they choose which side of the debate they are on and why. Debates have been and continue to be an activity that students ask when we are going to do it again because they have enjoyed it so much.