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Lesson Plan #: AELP-DEB0202
Submitted by: Lisa M. Shearer
Email: bshpgirl@earthlink.net
School/University/Affiliation: Home Street Middle School, Bishop, CA
Date: December 14, 2002

Grade Level: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


  • Language Arts/Debate

Duration: 45 minutes

Description: This activity introduces students to persuasion. By the end of the lesson, students are able to express their positions, as well as opposing arguments, on a particular issue.

Goals: California English-Language Arts Content Standards :

  • Listening and Speaking Strategies
    • 1.2 Determine the speaker’s attitude toward the subject. (gr. 7)
    • 1.3 Choose logical patterns of organization to inform and persuade by soliciting agreement or action or to unite audiences behind a common belief or cause. (gr. 9-10)
    • 1.5 Distinguish between and use various forms of classical and contemporary logical arguments. (gr. 11-12)

  • Speaking Applications
    • 2.4 Deliver Persuasive Presentations (gr. 7-8)


  • Students will work in groups to clearly verbalize their positions on a specific issue/topic.
  • Students will practice listening skills while other groups present their positions.
  • Students will be able to use convincing arguments to sway others’ opinions.
  • Students will write a 5-paragraph persuasive essay that presents point of view clearly and addresses opposing positions.
  • Materials:

    • 4 large pieces of paper with these words written on them: Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Strongly Disagree, Somewhat Disagree
    • Rubric
    • Rubric in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

      Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.

    Post the four pieces of paper in the four corners of the classroom. Write a controversial topic on the board (for example: Schools should eliminate report cards). Have students move to the corner that best matches their position (Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Strongly Disagree, Somewhat Disagree). If social cliques are a problem, have students write their choice on a card first in order to ensure honest reactions. Each corner will have 2 minutes to discuss and solidify their reasoning/logic. Each group selects a spokesperson to express the group’s position. He/she has 30 seconds to express thoughts concisely and persuade their classmates. Other groups must listen intently. After the first corner presents, invite those who have been persuaded to move to the appropriate corner. Direct each group to present their group’s position in turn. Allow students to move to the appropriate corners if they have changed their minds. Assessment: Each student will write a 5-paragraph persuasive essay. In order to receive a maximum score, the student must express his position clearly, use appropriate logic, and address opposing viewpoints. See Rubric in Materials .

    Useful Internet Site:
    * English-Language Arts Content Standards for California’s Public Schools

    Special Comments: My students love this debate exercise! In fact, they bring up new issues almost daily and want to have a go. This is an excellent opportunity for the teacher to instruct on debate etiquette (ie. no put-downs, one speaker at a time, respect other viewpoints, etc.).