Mission G(P)ossible: Operation Debate

The GP End is Near!  Just 6 academic days left before the GP Exam arrives!  The lesson in today’s post is perfect for wrapping up your final week of instruction or as a themed, Saturday Session event; but it can also be used any time during the school year to accomplish the following learning goals:

  • Build content knowledge
  • Heighten hot-button-issue awareness
  • Sharpen argumentative mindset
  • Broaden discursive reach

The GP Situation Room…solving the world’s probs one GP essay at a time

This past Saturday, my students rallied together for Saturday Session #3, where I challenged them to the ultimate GP Mission…I call this one…

OPERATION DEBATE

The activity itself took the full, 3 hours of our Saturday, so if you’re using this activity in the classroom, you’ll want to break it up into smaller parts, which I will slow-down and lay-out in this post:

  • DAY 1:  Organizing Teams/Instructional Overview
  • DAYS 2-3:  Top-Secret, Team Research and Debate Strategy
  • DAYS 4-5: Debate Presentations
  • DAYS 6-7: Essay Session

Cue the theme song…here we go!

ORGANIZE THE TEAMS…

As a bird’s-eye-view point of reference, take a look below at how the Mission G(P)ossible Debate Topics are laid out:

This is a Teacher Reference…don’t share the actual debate topics beforehand because its part of the fun letting them randomly select their Missions without knowing what they’re getting themselves into!  Plus, it’s a great way to get them to step outside their comfort zones in a fun, non-threatening way!

There are 7 debate topics total listed below.  If you have an average class size of 24, you will only need to select FOUR debate topics.  This will put:

  • 3 kids on a team
  • 6 kids total in a single debate
  • @ 4 debate topics,
  • = 24 kids!

Adjust the numbers according to:

  • How many kids you have
  • How many team members you want on a side (groups of 2, 3, 4, etc.)
  • How many debate topics you want to cover

Mission G(P)ossible Debate Topics

CLICK HERE for a PDF version of the Operation Cover Sheets.

Who is winning the gender wars?

  • Operation Rosie Riveter (women are winning it)
  • Operation Ken Doll (men are winning it)
DEBATE: Who is winning the gender wars?

DEBATE: Who is winning the gender wars?

PS…I put the incorrect spelling of “Rosie the Riveter” on my original folder (image above), but I amended this in the document I linked for the Operation Cover Sheets…woops, humanoid moment!  Rosy must be Rosie’s alter ego when she’s really being “I am woman, hear me roarrrr!”

Should international tourism be regulated?

  • Operation Jet Set (no!  don’t regulate it!)
  • Operation Homebody (yes!  regulate it!)
DEBATE: Should international tourism be regulated?

DEBATE: Should international tourism be regulated?

Should any limits be placed upon scientific research?

  • Operation Einstein (no limits to science!)
  • Operation Chucky (limit science!)
DEBATE: Should any limits be placed upon scientific research?

DEBATE: Should any limits be placed upon scientific research?

In an increasingly environmentally-concious society, is Global Warming still a threat?

  • Operation Apocalypse Now (yes, it’s still a threat!)
  • Operation Brightside (no, it’s decreasing in threat!)
DEBATE: In an increasingly conscious society, is global warming still a threat?

DEBATE: In an increasingly environmentally-conscious society, is global warming still a threat?

Are we taking modern technology too far?

  • Operation Jetson (no! technology is appropriate for our times)
  • Operation Old-School (yes! technology is taking it too far!)
DEBATE: Are we taking modern technology too far?

DEBATE: Are we taking modern technology too far?

How justified are the high salaries and bonuses paid out in celebrity professions?

  • Operation Cash Flow (yes, these bonuses are justifiable)
  • Operation 99 Percent (no, these bonuses aren’t justified!)
DEBATE: How justified are the high salaries and bonuses paid out in celebrity professions?

DEBATE: How justified are the high salaries and bonuses paid out in celebrity professions?

Which form of entertainment makes for a richer, audience experience: the theatre or the cinema/television?

  • Operation Broadway (theatre!)
  • Operation Starlet (cinema/television!)
DEBATE:  Which makes for a richer, audience experience: the theatre or the cinema/television?

DEBATE: Which form of entertainment makes for a richer, audience experience: the theatre or the cinema/television?

Feel free, of course, to adjust the debate topics and mission names at your discretion.  I chose mine based on what we still needed in terms of content exposure.  If it’s near test time, consider hot-button topics that you think might show up on the test!

Display the Mission G(P)ossible titles (above) in front of the classroom and allow students to ponder the cryptic names of each; do NOT tell them what the debate topics are!  It’s part of the fun to watch them blindly select their topics 😉

The teacher should select a group of team leaders.  If there are 4 debate topics (which is just about perfect for a class size of 24), you will need 8 leaders (since there are 2 sides to every debate, of course!) to head to the front of the room.  These leaders will then browse the Mission titles and select an Operation of their choice.

Once leadership is secured, these students should then be asked to draft their team of researchers.  Again, for a class size of 24, your leaders will select at least 2 more researchers from the audience to join them in their mission.

PERSONAL NOTE:  

  • If this is the first debate/public-speaking experience your students will have, I like teams of 3 on a single side for a debate…typically, I’ll have the team leader engage in the Round 1 speech of 2 minutes; then I’ll have the other two team members tag-team the Round 2 Counter speech, which is a 1-minute time frame.  
  • Since public speaking can be intimidating, I like the idea of one, more confident student taking control of the first round to get the argument going, followed by the potentially less-bold students having a ‘partner’ to rely on in the follow-up round.  
  • This strategy ensures that all students feel comfortable in their role.  In turn, they will relay information more confidently while getting familiar with being in front of an audience.  As the year progresses, you can tighten this standard, but it’s always nice to start slowly!

INSTRUCTIONAL OVERVIEW

Click HERE for a PDF copy of the Special Intel sheets I gave each team.

Now it’s time to navigate the activity with your class.  Have them find a cozy group spot somewhere in the room, keeping in mind that they have NO idea who their opposition is (hence, the cryptic Operation titles!), so they’ll need to keep their research focus, quiet, and confidential (built-in, classroom management technique to keep down the noise level!  I did it this way to micro-manage a devoted, energized-bordering-boisterous, Saturday Session group of 35 kids…all by my lonesome!)

The GP Investigator Squad...Missions accomplished!

The GP Investigator Squad…Missions accomplished!

Each team will be given their Top-Secret File, in the form of a manila folder.  Inside of this folder, teams will find the Special Intelligence pertaining to their debate task.

Topic Secret, Special Intelligence...should you choose to accept this GP mission!

Topic Secret, Special Intelligence…should you choose to accept this GP mission!

MISSION TARGET = the prompt

RESEARCH ANGLE = the argumentative thesis/central idea students will be researching and upholding in the debate

SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE = themed ideas to get students moving in the right direction as they begin their research; this is a brief, teacher-generated scaffold of ideas meant to inspire more in-depth examples…the intention is for students to take the research and run with it!

SECRET WEAPON = unique ideas that the opposition might not necessarily think of, which will serve as Thor’s Hammer during the debate!

As students begin their research, be sure to circulate the room to make certain that all groups understand their task.  Also, discuss with them how the “Research Angle” provided is actually the

This message will self-destruct...

This message will self-destruct…

potential THESIS STATEMENT for a persuasive essay written on that prompt!  It’s essential they see this connection right away in order to comprehend how the spoken activity will eventually translate into a written one!

If you have the time, feel free to stuff the Top Secret folders with other valuable research tid-bits, as they apply.

For example, I might a print-out of the following link inside Operation: ‘Rosie Riveter,’ who will be arguing in favor of women winning the gender war:

Obama Signs Measures to Help Close Gender Pay Gap

Stuff the manila folders with any top-secret intel that might help strengthen your students' arguments...leave them to find the connections and synthesize the information :-)

Stuff the manila folders with any top-secret intel that might help strengthen your students’ arguments…leave them to find the connections and synthesize the information 🙂

TOP-SECRET, TEAM RESEARCH & DEBATE STRATEGIZING SESSION

For this portion of the activity, we migrated over to the computer lab, so if you’re taking a week for this activity, you’ll likely want to make some reservations at your Media Center or Computer Lab.  Productive noise, welcome!

Here are a few snapshots from Operation Research…

Investigative Squad for Operation "Apocalypse Now!"

Investigative Squad for Operation “Apocalypse Now!”

 

 

I am woman, hear me ROAR as I win the gender WAR!

I am woman, hear me ROAR as I win the gender WAR!

 

Pavich, your activity rocks...seriously!

Pavich, your activity rocks…seriously!

Room-Full-of-Research...I love the buzz of productivity!  GP, bring the noise!

Room-Full-of-Research…I love the buzz of productivity! GP, bring the noise!

INFORMAL DEBATE PRESENTATIONS

Debate Type: informal, have fun with it!

SPEECH SET-UP:

  • ROUND 1, 2 minutes…the argument for or against
  • ROUND 2, 1 minute…point-counter rebuttals to Round 1 opposition speech
  • Audience Vote, Teacher Confirmation  (if they vote the same as you, they get a treat!  This ensure that they vote based on evidence, not friendships or entertainment!)

Once students have spent a sufficient amount of time researching their argument, they’ll draft up a strategy for presenting it.  Here are a few things they’ll need to work out as a team:

  • Who will give the solo, 2-minute speech in Round 1?
  • Who would rather team up with a partner to provide counterarguments/rebuttals in the 1-minute segment of Round 2?
  • What paperwork should we bring to the podium?
  • What will we say if the opposition raises Points X, Y, Z?
  • Who will be in charge of organizing our information on the board for the audience to follow?

Once these final details are ironed out, it’s time to hit the podium!

On the board behind each team, I’ve provided space for them to write the following information:

  • Mission Target/Essay Prompt
  • Investigative Coordinates/Persuasive Thesis
  • Mission Accomplished/Evidence to Support the Argument

Have one student from the group quickly jot the information on the board, OR pre-arrange the information on large post-it notes or magnetic card-stock print-outs for quick swapping (which is what I will definitely be doing next time around!)

Debate Board...the audience should write down the information and take some quick-notes about each subject argued!

Debate Board…the audience should write down the information and take some quick-notes about each subject argued!

Theatre...or Cinema?  Which is better?!

Theatre…or Cinema? Which is better?!

I encourage students to arrange ideas into Hand Approach themes, or sub-points, so the audience can follow supporting details easily.  I also encourage them to use the Point-Counterpoint Chart to draft additional arguments as they arise organically during the course of the debate.

Students can take any notes they’d like up to the podium…

Typed, copy-pasties from online research

20140426-140240.jpg

Handwritten thoughts and scribblings

Either of these sets of notes is pretty free-form, but encourage them to keep a list of their original sources handy as well.

ESSAY SESSION

From the podium to the pen!

From the podium to the pen…speaking meets writing.

Once debate presentations are complete, students will need to transfer spoken knowledge into written communication…let the Operation Essay begin!

You can organize this any which way you’d like, depending on class writing needs.  For example, students could:

  • Write a full, persuasive essay on their debate side.
  • Write a full, discursive essay on their debate topic.
  • Draft part of an essay, based on several debate topics (i.e. choosing any debate topic other than you own, draft an intro plus two, discursive body paragraphs–one in favor and one against–that adheres to the selected prompt)
  • Write ’em individually.
  • Write ’em as a team.

Either way, students are getting exposure to content, finding the connection between content and essay prompt, and practicing the writing craft!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Collaboratively Yours,

eduPavich

2 responses

  1. Hi Jill, This looks great! I’m def going to try it. One quick question- On the Operation Cover sheets, what does the “Section # Investigators Only” indicate?

    Like

    1. Whatever prompt that’s inside is from one of the 3 sections of the test. I was going to let me choose their fav section as we started organizing teams, but then I just went into random selection mode for the fun of it! Lol

      Like

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