What is a Lincoln Douglas debate?
A one to one debate in which both sides of an argument are stated. Each student represents a specific role. Teacher facilitates debate based on a structured set-up
When to use this activity?
- During a unit on a controversial topic
- To encourage collaborative learning
- At the end of a unit as a culminating activity
How do I implement the Lincoln Douglas Debate Format?
Select an article from the News or Library regarding an important issue or topic.
Split your students into groups of 6*
Assign each student a role:
*You can adapt this size based on class size. Likely, you will want to have a total of four groups staging a debate on two different topics.
- Moderator - poses the debatable point/question
- Lead Debater/Constructor -- presents the main points/arguments for his or her team's stand on the topic of the debate
- Questioner/Cross-Examiner -- poses questions about the opposing team's arguments to its Question Responder
- Question Responder -- takes over the role of the Lead Debater/Constructor as he or she responds to questions posed by the opposing team's
- Rebutter -- responds on behalf of his or her team to as many of the questions raised in the cross-examination as possible.
- Summarizer -- closes the debate by summarizing the main points of his or her team's arguments, especially attempts by the opposition to shoot holes in their arguments
Students read selected text and craft a response based on the posed statement or question.
Students review their assigned roles and how they relate to the overall debate.
Once in small groups, students will craft a plan for the debate. Each role determining what they are going to present.
Follow this format for the debate:
- Moderators for each groups will launch the debate [1 min]
- Lead Debaters will each present opening arguments [6 mins]
- Questions - [ 5 mins]
- Cross Examiner: Poses questions of one team
- Responder: Responds to questions
- Rebutter: Respond back for the other team
- Summarizer: Closing arguments [5 mins]*
Either using an exit ticket or oral format have students reflect upon the process of the debate. Examples of questions that can be used.
Exit Ticket Questions:
- What was your role in the group?
- Why did your or didn’t you like the role?
- Did you agree with your team’s stance?
- Explain why or why not using evidence from the text.
Open Discussion Questions:
- What went well?
- What should be improved?
- What changes should we make moving forward?