Organizing a Debate

Purpose:

Students will research relevant issues that impact Canadians, drawing conclusions on the role government plays (and the news media) in shaping or responding to public opinion.

Time:

2 class periods to research and organize a debate, about 50 minutes each

Materials:

  • Pencil/pens
  • Paper
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Photocopies of Party presentations

The Lesson:

  1. At the end of the first week (and all subsequent weeks) each party must choose a speaker (leader) to sum up what happened in Parliament (from their point of view) during the week. One student should record the summary and hand it in. This role should be shared.
  2. While students have been cutting and placing their stories on the bulletin board, you’re looking for any student friendly issues to emerge. A good example of this is the 2005 debate over how much money should be given to Tsunami Relief. Timing is everything in politics and you may find there is no issue that will grab student interest in a debate. If this occurs ask students for issues they think Parliament should be discussing.
  3. When an issue has been chosen, tell students they will participate in a Parliamentary debate. Each Party must meet to decide their position in the debate. The role students play depends greatly on the issue. Each group will decide which MP will speak (depending on the topic). The Speaker of the House exercises control of the debate. Ask each Party to write up their presentation and order by number the points they will make in the debate. Each student should have a copy of their Party’s argument. Collect a copy of each presentation.
  4. Evaluation:

Read through the presentation and give a group mark for communicating, sorting and classifying relevant information to be used in the debate.