Debate an International Issue
ELA B30
Outcomes:
CC B30.3(f): Prepare and participate in a debate (structured argumentation) on an
international issue.
Outcome Task
1. View (characteristics, conventions, techniques / bias) and listen (bias) to a debate.
2. You will be put into teams of 4 to debate an issue. There will be four teams in total, with
two teams per topic.
3. Review the debate format at the end of this handout.
4. Work with your team to either “affirm” the given issue or to “negate” it.
5. The debate topics will be chosen as a class by majority vote on ten proposed issues. The
two topics with the most votes will be assigned to the teams by the teacher.
Debate an International Issue
4 – Mastery
3 – Proficiency
2 – Approaching
CC B30.3(f): Prepare and participate in a debate (structured argumentation) on an international issue.
 Explicit focus on a defensible
 Focus on a defensible position
 Attempts to focus on a defensible
position
position but loses focus
1 - Beginning

Lacks focus

Actively participate on the
affirmative team or the opposing
or negative team

Participate on the affirmative
team or the opposing or negative
team

Lacks participation on the
affirmative team or the opposing
or negative team

Does not participate on the
debate team

Actively engage in necessary
research and demonstrate
understanding of topic and
related concepts

Engage in necessary research
and demonstrate understanding
of topic and related concepts

Engage in necessary research
and demonstrate simplistic
understanding of topic and
related concepts

Does not engage in necessary
research and cannot
demonstrate understanding of
topic and related concepts

Convincingly defend or attack
given proposition

Defend or attack given
proposition

Attempts to defend or attack
given proposition

Ineffectively defend or attack
given proposition

Demonstrate clear organization
and prepared forethought

Demonstrate organization and
forethought

Demonstrate some organization

Lacks organization and
forethought

Familiarly adhere to procedural
and parliamentary rules

Adhere to procedural and
parliamentary rules


Does not adhere to procedural
and parliamentary rules

Make relevant, well-researched,
and accurate statements in a
clear and concise manner
without reliance on notes

Make relevant, well-researched,
and accurate statements in a
clear and concise manner
without too much reliance on
notes

Misses following some
procedural and parliamentary
rules
Make relevant statements
using notes

Make ineffective statements
relying on notes

Respond with thoughtprovoking rebuttal statements
that are appropriate and that
demonstrate comprehension and
understanding of the opposing
positions.

Respond with rebuttal
statements that are appropriate
and that demonstrate
comprehension and
understanding of the opposing
positions.

Respond with simplistic rebuttal
statements..

Ineffective rebuttal.
Team Debate Format
Speech
Time
(min)
1A
C
1N
C
2A
C
2N
C
3A
C
3N
C
4A
C
4N
C
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
Break
Format:
 The supporting side is called the Affirmative, and the opposition side is called the Negative.
 Each side is a team composed of four debaters, so that there are eight people participating
in the debate (not including the judge and audience).
 A round of team debate consists of eight speeches. The first four speeches are called
constructive speeches, because the teams are perceived as laying out their most important
arguments during these speeches. The last four speeches are called rebuttals, because the
teams are expected to criticize the arguments made by the other team. Here is a table of
the speeches and their time limits:
1N
R
1A
R
2N
R
2A
R
3N
R
3A
R
4N
R
4A
R
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
(A stands for Affirmative, N for Negative, C for Constructive, R for Rebuttal.)

Two things are of interest in this structure.
o First, the affirmative team both begins and ends the debate.
o Second, the negative team has two speeches in a row: the first negative rebuttal
(1NR) immediately follows the fourth negative constructive (4NC). (Why? Well,
because it's always been done that way.)
Purpose:
The goal of the debates will be to investigate the topics discussed from opposing viewpoints.
The class will be expected to listen and make notes during the debate. The goal of the debate
format is to encourage active participation in social issues. Whether you agree or disagree with
the side your team is given, your job is to effectively present all arguments for or against the
issue in question.
Outline / Bibliography:
Each debate team will be required to hand in a typed outline of their argument, delineating
each group members’ contribution to the debate. One paper per person with their contribution
will be adequate. Keep in mind that this is to be an outline – not an essay! Try to keep it to 1-2
pages.
Each team must also submit a bibliography with at least 2 references. Those references may be
from a book, peer-reviewed journal, respected scientific magazine, or reputable website (no
online encyclopedias – especially Wikipedia, no blogs, etc. If there is any doubt, please ask me!)
Tips:

Arguments are always more convincing when supported by data! Be sure to include
statistics, data, specific examples, etc. in your debates.

Data and statistics are more convincing when your audience knows where they came from.
Don’t forget to cite your sources!

Be clear and concise.

Know your information well enough that you do not have to read directly from your notes
during the whole debate. Note cards with reminders are ok – writing out your entire
argument and then reading it to us is not.
Roles:

The 1st Affirmative Constructive must:
o briefly define the topic.
o present the affirmative’s “team line” (basic statement of why the resolution is true).
o present an overview of the argument for the affirmative’s case.

The 1st Negative Constructive must:
o present the negative’s “team line” (basic statement of why the resolution is false).
o present an overview of the argument for the negative’s case.

The 2nd Affirmative Constructive must:
o restate the affirmative’s team line.
o present the first argument of the affirmative’s case.

The 2nd Negative Constructive must:
o restate the negative’s team line.
o present the first argument of the negative’s case.

The 3rd Affirmative Constructive must:
o restate the affirmative’s team line.
o present the second argument of the affirmative’s case.

The 3rd Negative Constructive must:
o restate the negative’s team line.
o present the second argument of the negative’s case.

The 4th Affirmative Constructive must:
o restate the affirmative’s team line
o present the last argument of the affirmative’s case

The 4th Negative Constructive must:
o restate the negative’s team line.
o present the last argument of the negative’s case.
BREAK

The 1st Negative Rebuttal must:
o present an overview of the evidence to oppose the main points of the affirmative’s
case.

The 1st Affirmative Rebuttal must:
o present an overview of the evidence to oppose the main points of the negative’s
case.

The 2nd Negative Rebuttal must:
o present evidence to oppose the main points of the first point of the affirmative’s
case.

The 2nd Affirmative Rebuttal must:
o present evidence to oppose the main points of the first point of the negative’s case.

The 3rd Negative Rebuttal must:
o present evidence to oppose the main points of the second point of the affirmative’s
case.

The 3rd Affirmative Rebuttal must:
o present evidence to oppose the main points of the second point of the negative’s
case.

The 4th Negative Rebuttal must:
o present evidence to oppose the main points of the last point of the affirmative’s
case.

The 4th Affirmative Rebuttal must:
o present evidence to oppose the main points of the last point of the negative’s case.
Rebuttals:
There are a few things to remember about rebuttals:
1. Logic - To say that the other side is wrong is not enough. You have to show why the
other side is wrong. This is best done by taking a main point of the other side's
argument and showing that it does not make sense. Because a lot of the thinking for this
needs to be done quickly, this is one of the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of
debating.
2. Pick the important points - Try to rebut the most important points of the other side's
case. You will find that after a while these are easier and easier to spot. (However, be
sure to actually address what the other side has said – don’t just present more
supportive data for your argument).
3. Be concise – You only have 1 minute! State a clear, concise rebuttal that is backed up by
one or two solid facts.
4. Focus on the issue - Do not criticize the individual speakers, criticize what they say. To
call someone stupid, ugly, or a nerd does not make what they say wrong and it will also
lose you marks.
Team Brainstorm Sheet
You should first work together to determine what your three arguments will be in support of
your position. Once you have decided who will speak in which position, you will need to
individually research material to create your part of your team’s argument.
Issue: ________________________________________________________________________
Position (Affirm or Negate): ________________
Main Argument (Thesis):
Speaker 1:
Speaker 2:
Speaker 3:
Speaker 4:
Team: ______________________________
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Debate an International Issue