Weekly Debates: AP Language and Composition
Standards: LISTENING AND SPEAKING -- Organization and Delivery of Oral Communication
1.4 Use rhetorical questions, parallel structure, concrete images, figurative language, characterization, irony, and dialogue to achieve clarity,
force, and aesthetic effect.
1.5 Distinguish between and use various forms of classical and contemporary logical arguments, including:
a. Inductive and deductive reasoning b. Syllogisms and analogies
1.6 Use logical, ethical, and emotional appeals that enhance a specific tone and purpose.
1.7 Use appropriate rehearsal strategies to pay attention to performance details, achieve command of the text, and create skillful artistic staging.
1.8 Use effective and interesting language, including: a. Informal expressions for effect, c. Technical language for specificity
1.9 Use research and analysis to justify strategies for gesture, movement, and vocalization, including dialect, pronunciation, and enunciation.
1.10 Evaluate when to use different kinds of effects (e.g., visual, music, sound, graphics) to create effective productions.
The Assignment:
You and your partner must debate (or you must present a rhetorical argument independently) once during the
semester. Debates will typically be held on Fridays. You must let me know what your topic is by
__________________. No two groups can debate the same topic, so you should choose a topic, plus two alternate
topics. We will decide who gets the topics by lottery on __________________.
You can debate on appropriate subjects for which you can find valid, university-level research. NOTE: Polls and
surveys are not research and do not count. I reserve the right to veto a topic if it seems wholly inappropriate. You may
argue a current affair issue such as cloning restrictions, the passage of a proposed law, or American intervention in the
Middle East. You can debate on a literary issue, such as whether or not Hemingway is capable of writing meaningfully
about women. You might argue both sides of a historical issue such as whether or not the United States was justified in
dropping atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s up to you. Again, arrive in class with a topic, and alternate
topics on _______________________.
The Logistics:
You will need a visual aid that assists you in persuading your audience. Any charts or graphs must be visible from the
back row.
 The structure of the debate is simple. (1) You each get a one-minute opening remarks period. (2) Then, each
debater is allowed to speak for three minutes—during these three minutes, you can offer your supporting claims
and your evidence, you can ask questions of your opponent, you can simply make powerful comments, or you can
address your opponent’s previous statement. (3) Next, your opponent will get their three-minute turn. Each debater
gets three of these three-minute turns. Debaters alternate between turns. (4) After each person has had three turns
in which to speak/question/respond to questions/ deliver evidence, each will have a one-minute closing remark
 Remember, during your 3, three-minute turns, your goal is not only to deliver three reasons that support
your thesis, but to offer three pieces of concrete evidence (quotations, statistics, examples) that support
each reason. (You can usually deliver your reason and support it with evidence within one minute—so
you will still have two minutes to respond to your opponent’s previous comments, or to use any other
rhetorical strategies that you see fit to use).
 Then the class will critique both debaters. There will be no stated winner. Grading will be rubric-based. (Please
download and study the rubric before your debate day—it is much easier to get a strong
grade if you know exactly what is on the rubric.)
 This debate follows classical essay structure—(A) it has an introduction in which you state your thesis,
(B) it has a body in which you offer three supporting reasons and at least three pieces of CITED
evidence, (C) it has a conclusion in which you restate your thesis and offer some powerful concluding
information. Please, end all speeches with the words, “Thank you.”
Research: your debate must cite valid, research sources, statistics, quotations, and other logical evidence, which must
be listed on your research document. Please cite all your evidence during your debate. Also, when performing
internet research, use universally accepted , specific (individual names and titles) and reasonably unbiased sources
such as university research or nationally respected (and unbiased) organizations.
Research Document
In addition to the debate, each debater must submit a research document on the day of your debate. Your
research document should be evidence of rigorous academic study and will serve as a reference for the
credible, cited quotations you will use in your debate.
This is a unique document—sort of an outline, and sort of a Works Cited page. It is not an essay. Again, it is a kind
of outline. It will not be longer than a single page.
Instructions for the Research Document:
Start with a formal heading and the centered title, “Debate Research Document.”
Next, state your thesis at the top of the page. This is a single sentence.
Then, identify your three supporting ideas. Each of these is a single bulleted sentence.
Next, strike the enter key several times to create a space.
Here, center the words, “Works Cited.”
Finally, create an MLA Works Cited list, with at least three entries. Create an entry for any citation you use in
your speech.
Again, this can all be on one page. You are going to list your thesis, your three supporting ideas, and then create a
works cited page that will reflect the citations you use during your speech.
MLA Works Cited entries look like this: (Note the hanging indent and the alphabetization)
Cott, Jonathan. Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children’s Literature. New York:
McGraw-Hill, 1985. Print.
Messer, Mack. “Weill: American Theatre Songs.” American Record Guide. 62.6 (1999): 236-245.
GALE Student Resource Center- Silver. Web. 7 Jan. 2010.
Quade, Alex. “Elite Team Rescues Troops.” Cable News Network, 19 March 2007. Web.
15 May 2008.
Hand it to me immediately before your presentation. If you leave class without turning the research
document in to me, it automatically becomes late and loses half its value. If I don’t get the research
document before the end of the day, it is worthless.
Try to do the research document some time before your presentation; it is designed to help you organize your
argument. Have fun.
The Class Critique
Finally, at the conclusion of your presentation, your peers will critique your performance. At this point,
they—the audience—will demonstrate 11th Grade standards as well. Here are the analysis and evaluation
standards the class will demonstrate:
Analysis and Evaluation of Oral and Media Communications
1.11 Critique a speaker’s diction and syntax in relation to the purpose of an oral communication and the impact the words may have on the
1.12 Identify logical fallacies used in oral addresses (e.g., attack ad hominem, false causality, red herring, overgeneralization, bandwagon effect).
1.14 Analyze the techniques used in media messages for a particular audience and evaluate their effectiveness...
Again, they will ask how you (or discuss the ways in which you) established Ethos with your audience, and what
devices you used to advance your argument.
This assignment is worth 60 points (download Rubric from website for detailed breakdown).
Allison M Smith
Mr. Thayer
AP Language and Composition—period 2
20 May 2011
Debate Research Document
Dogs make better pets than do cats.
 Dogs are superior pets because they will protect one's home and family from villains.
 Dogs are superior because they are more loyal and committed to their owners.
 Dogs are superior because their higher I.Q.s allow them to be trained for socially useful tasks such as
assisting the blind and the deaf.
Works Cited
Auade, Alex. “Elite Animals Make Elite pets.” Cable News Network, 19 March
2007. Web. 15 May 2008.
Bott, Jonathan. Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children’s Literature. New
York: McGraw-Hill, 1985. Print.
Casseler, Mike. “Dogs, Especially German Dogs, are Better.” American Record Guide. 62.6
(1999): 236-245. GALE Student Resource Center- Silver. Web. 7 Jan. 2011.
Messer, Mack. “Weill: American Theatre Songs.” American Record Guide. 62.6 (1999): 236245. GALE Student Resource Center- Silver. Web. 7 Jan. 2010.
Zedd, Stephen. “Why Cats are Crap.” American Record Guide. 62.6 (1876): 236-245. GALE
Student Resource Center- Silver. Web. 7 Jan. 2008.