I Beg to Differ: Debating

Unit Plan

Marty Pilott
Adapted by Mark Rounds
3 weeks

California Language Arts Content Standards
Standards Addressed in this Unit
2.0Speaking Applications 9/10
2.5 Deliver persuasive arguments (including evaluation and analysis of problems and solutions and causes and effects):
  1. Structure ideas and arguments in a coherent, logical fashion.
  2. Use rhetorical devices to support assertions (e.g., by appeal to logic through reasoning; by appeal to emotion or ethical belief; by use of personal anecdote, case study, or analogy).
  3. Clarify and defend positions with precise and relevant evidence, including facts, expert opinions, quotations, expressions of commonly accepted beliefs, and logical reasoning.
  4. Anticipate and address the listener's concerns and counterarguments.
1.0 Listening and Speaking Strategies 11/12
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.
1.5Distinguish between and use various forms of classical and contemporary logical arguments, including:
  1. Inductive and deductive reasoning
  2. Syllogisms and analogies
1.6 Use logical, ethical, and emotional appeals that enhance a specific tone and purpose.
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 audience.
1.12 Identify logical fallacies used in oral addresses (e.g., attack ad hominem, false causality, red herring, overgeneralization, bandwagon effect).
1.13 Analyze the four basic types of persuasive speech (i.e., propositions of fact, value, problem, or policy) and understand the similarities and differences in their patterns of organization and the use of persuasive language, reasoning, and proof.
Supporting Standards


Smiley Select and adapt these learning activities to best meet the needs of your students, and to fit the time available:

1. ImpromptuPractice 'off-the-cuff' speaking. Formative peer assessment.
2. RebuttalPractice the skills of rebuttal and debating technique
1.  Group work: not assessed.
2.  Class presentation: formative peer assessment.
3. DefinitionsPractice the skill of writing definitionsFormative peer assessment.
4. The DebateStudents research and conduct debates.
1.  Peer assessment provides added information.
2.  Summative teacher assessment.


1. Debating v Public SpeakingExplains the difference between public speaking and debating, and describes the key features of debating.
2. What Is Debating?Explanation of the rules and format of a debate.


1. Impromptu AssessmentStudent sheet for assessing other students' impromptu speeches.
2. GlossaryA glossary of debating terms
3. Student DefinitionsDefinitions for student study. Can be used as handout or OHT.
4. Teacher AssessmentHow the teacher can assess the debating unit.
5. MootsList of moots for overhead transparency.

Collaborative on-line projects related to this unit:


For details on how to set up the debate, see The Debate

Your task as the teacher is to assess individual students based on California State Standards. It is important to keep this function separate from adjudicating the debate, which can be done by the rest of the class. Read the guidelines in Adjudicating for Teachers

Assessment Rubric