Online debate lesson?! But how?

Author: Ferhat Ayranci

Debate is a very important and efficient tool to develop scientific understanding and to gain scientific knowledge. The clash between ideas has the potential to provide new points of views to the debaters and to the audience.

Our middle schoolers are very much familiar with the discussion and expressing themselves in scientific argumentation. On the other hand, a debate setup is a new concept for them. Moreover, performing an online debate session was a big challenge for all of us.

A middle school tradition

As an MYP-1 (Grade-6) science class tradition, students learnt how to debate and they performed their first debates in April as a part of Earth science unit. The main debate topic was global climate change or global warming and this year there was a bit of an adjustment in the topic due to Covid-19 situation.

For the sake of global climate…

“Some of the factories should remain closed even after the pandemic issue is solved.”

Online rubric and feedback form

To be able to carry out our debate session online, rubrics and feedback forms were adapted to Google Forms, which actually made things easier later.

2 minutes of time was given to each speaker. 3 speakers from both teams talked respectively. 3 referees completed the rubrics per session.

Timer could be seen via teacher’s screen

How did it go?

Although students did not talk face to face, there was a good amount of discussion. Students were engaged and participated well in their first-ever online debate.

A very important advantage of doing an online debate was, of course, the ability to use online tools for collecting feedback. Almost all students easily provided feedback on what they got from it in positive and negative terms, after the debates were over.

Thumbs up!!

Finally, with a bit of extra preparation and with highly motivated students, it was possible and maybe easier to carry out online debate sessions. Moreover, online tools made collecting data like rubrics and feedback forms easier. It will be a good alternative even after schools are open.