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This or That (Debate)


Activity aim: get students actively involved in discussion; promote critical thinking and reasoning; encourage students to form opinions about course materials/topics

Materials needed: whiteboard or projector (ability to display statements that the whole class can view)

Time estimated: variable (~20-45 minutes)

Activity Description: A statement that has two possible responses (agree/disagree; yes/no; x/y)—is presented to students. Depending on their answer, students move to one side of the room or the other. From that spot, students take turns defending their positions. Defending their position could mean citing points from course materials or solving a problem on the board. Some teachers set up one hot seat to represent each side and students can take turns in the seat.

This activity can be based on a text or content that students have engaged with before class. Students should cite textual or content evidence to support their answer and can reference this information during the debate.

Extension idea:

In less formal variations, you could simply read provocative statements and debate can occur spontaneously without citing evidence. Teachers may also opt to offer a continuum of choices, ranging from “Strongly Agree” on one side of the room, all the way to “Strongly Disagree” on the other, and have students place themselves along that continuum based on the strength of their convictions.

Sources: Website and PDF

Image Credit: JD Hancock