Pop-up Debate is a method for managing and facilitating in-class debates; it is easily modifiable for other speaking scenarios, such as discussions or toasts.
Here’s Pop-Up Debate:
- Students use assigned text(s), logic, and/or course content to respond to a debatable prompt and their peers’ arguments using the rules below.
- Every student speaks 1+ times, depending on time constraints. These limits are set by the teacher.
- To speak, students simply “pop up” at their desks and talk. First person to speak has the floor. When multiple students pop up, teach them to politely yield the floor. Argument is a collaborative endeavor, and collaboration isn’t a pointed finger and, “Sit down, I was up first.”
This is how simply I introduce it to my students once we’ve done about three weeks of Think-Pair-Share.
Why Use Pop-Up Debate?
Pop-up debates are a novice-friendly, replicable teaching strategy. They allow me to
- get all students talking about course content;
- explicitly teach students how to speak within an authentic context;
- teach students to argue, which Jerry Graff explains is critical for the democratization of postsecondary attainment (and this is why argument is one of the five things I recommend working on all year long); and
- build character, although I’m still studying exactly how through a national Teacher Innovation Grant (full explanation here).
- No cross talk. The person standing has the floor.
- You are the coach. Model, instruct, encourage, and correct. With discretion.
- Every kid needs to speak. Be proactive with shy kids.
- “Great debaters can debate all sides.” Assign sides once in awhile.
- “We all win with a great debate.” I don’t choose winners.
- Teach and assess 1-2 skills at a time. Organize your speaking mini-lessons into three buckets: content, organization, and delivery.
- Explain Erik Palmer’s PVLEGS early. Use it all year long.
- Include a reflection at the end. What went well? What didn’t? How did we do as a class? What can we do to improve?
- Frequency: I aim to have a debate every 1.5 weeks.
Questions? Comments? Use the comments section below. Learn way more in the Pay-What-You-Want Pop-Up Debate Starter Kit.