Teaching Debate in the Elementary Classroom
Using debates in the classroom can help students grasp many essential critical thinking and presentation skills. Among the skills classroom debates can foster are:
    • ~ abstract thinking
    • ~ analytical thinking
    • ~ citizenship/ethics/etiquette
    • ~ cross-examination/questioning
    • ~ point of view
    • ~ distinguishing fact from opinion
    • ~ identifying bias
    • ~ organization of information
    • ~ persuasion
    • ~ public speaking
    • ~ research
    • ~ teamwork/cooperation


In my Debate Handouts packet, I have information about evaluating the reliability of sources, analyzing arguments, organizing ideas for debate, and ideas for persuasive writing.
In the upper elementary grades, fourth through sixth, debate topics must be appropriate to the grade level of the students. Many "contoversial issues" are about topics that would be inappropriate in the elementary classroom. Care should be taken in planning for debate issues that would not offend the beliefs and values of the students. Below is a list of possible topics:
  • Animals Used in Research
  • Bioengineered Foods
  • Curfew Laws
  • Geneteic Engineering
  • Global Warming
  • Milk Debate
  • Minimum Wage
  • Nuclear Proliferation
  • Professional Athletes' Salaries
  • School Uniforms
  • School Vouchers
  • Standardized Testing in Schools
  • Year-Round School
List of debate topics suitable for elementary students

Debate Resources
Mrs. Sunda's Debate Unit Handouts - this unit contains the various student handouts I use when teaching persausion and debate
Resources for Classroom Debates - list of links for debate rules;
debate rubrics for student assessment; debate topics for classroom use; debate lesson plans; and fun debate strategies.

Debate Rubrics
Tips for Persuasive Speaking - seven tips to strengthen debate presentations and persuasive speaking and writing
Research Skills Resources
Notestar - an Internet utility to assist in the preparation of research papers. Teachers set up research projects with topics and sub-topics; students may then take advantage of NoteStar's many features to collect and organize their notes and prepare their bibliography page
Noodle Tools - a suite of interactive tools designed to aid students with their online research
Citation Machine - an interactive Web tool designed to assist teachers in modeling the proper use of information property
How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography - an annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited
Works Cited - here are suggested citation formats for grades one through six for the most common reference materials
Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Quoting - you can borrow from the works of other writers as you research. Good writers use three strategies—summarizing, paraphrasing and quoting—to blend source materials in with their own, while making sure their own voice is heard
Top 10 things Teachers Should Know: Network Behavior and the Web