Add Site to FavoritesAdd Page to FavoritesMake HomepageShare This PageEmail This PageContact UsPrint This PageSave Page as PDF
Back to Top

Debating the future - Week 1

Week 1

Week 1 : Debate Basics (3-4 days)

Are We Going to Debate or Argue? (1 day)

  • Debate VS Argument Chart (TR)
  • Signs for Four Corners Debate Strategy (Agree, Strongly Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree) (Link to strategy in lesson)
  • Debate Videos (sources listed in lesson and in teacher resources )
  • List of debate terms (TR)


  • Open with a strong statement that has highly emotional pros and cons. It’s best to select a local issue that is timely and relevant to your students. Here are some suggestions.
    • High school students should be able to do required coursework and exams online from their homes.
    • Pro athletes deserve to be more highly paid than people in service industries (nurses, doctors, firefighters, teachers).
    • Today’s society is not committed to solving environmental issues.
    • It should be illegal to produce and sell violent video games.
    • High school students should not be allowed to have an after school job if their grades are poor.
  • Discuss topic using Four Corners strategy
  • Explain that there are often different opinions on topics and people argue strongly for what they believe.
  • Relate back discussions on topics from I, Robot, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and The Veldt.
  • State objective: During this unit you will become familiar with debate format, rules, techniques, and vocabulary by participating in an informal debate. This is a structured way to present your views through reasoning and evidence (much like attorneys do during a trial).
  • Demonstrate the difference between an argument and a debate.
    • Stage an argument
    • Invite a school debate team in to do an impromptu debate on one of the topics listed above or watch a You Tube video of a debate.
  • Discuss the difference between a debate and an argument.
    • See TR for chart - Debates VS Arguments
  • Summarize learning by having students turn to a partner and quickly review the difference between debates and arguments.

Debate Ground Rules (1-2 days)


  • Debate VS Argument Chart (TR)
  • Informal Debate Format Information (TR)
  • Debate Videos (or visit from school Debate Club)
  • Roles and Rules Student Worksheet (TR)
  • List of debate terms (TR)


  • Review difference between debate and argument (chart)
  • Explain to the students that they will be participating in an informal debate dealing with a controversial topic on robotics.
  • Give an overview of informal debate format. Explain what a debate is, how it’s structured (speaking order, time limits, etc.), the responsibilities of the speakers and the audience, terms used. See the TR - Informal Debate Format. Check resource list for more detailed information on debate format and procedures.
  • If possible, give students opportunities to see debate in action (YouTube, debate club, political debate). The following link has videos of debates that are suitable for school viewing.
  • Review learning - students fill in chart on roles and rules of debate. TR - Roles and Rules of Debate

Assessment Opportunity: Roles and Rules of Debate

Forming Teams (1 day)


  • Debate topics (in lesson)
  • Box with equal number of affirmative and negative slips of paper - total number of slips must equal the number of students in the class
  • Chart of Speaking Roles in Debate


  • Quick review of learning using chart filled out previous day
  • Announce the debate topics:
    1. Robots are a threat to our quality of life.
    2. A robot would make a better world leader than a human.
    3. Robots should not be used in warfare.
    4. The U.S. budget should include more funds for the advancement of robotics in industry.
  • In debate, students may have to support an opinion that they don’t personally support. This helps them understand both sides of the issue.
  • Have students draw for which side they’ll support in this debate (affirmative or negative).
  • Break these groups into debate teams and have students decide speaking roles for the debate.
    • See the TR - Informal Debate Format
  • Give each set of teams a topic from above (They can draw for these)
  • Ask teams to brainstorm what they know about the topic, what they need to find out, and where they might get information. Teacher circulates, monitors, advises, makes suggestions.
  • Here are some questions they might consider.
    • How are robots used to help people? Are they always helpful?
    • How are robots used in wars, for AI? Are these roles helpful or invasive?
    • How are robots used in workplaces? Are they taking jobs once held by people or are they making industries more efficient and products less costly?
    • How are robots used in everyday life? Do they improve our lives?
    • How are robots used in space? How will man use the information gathered? Will life be better with this information?
    • Does the use of robots have any effect on the economy?
    • Are robots a threat to our security or are they helping us stay safe?
  • Call class together and explain the importance of gathering strong, credible, current evidence to support their argument (much like in a court trial)
  • Next week will be spent digging for evidence.

(Page 2 of 5)

Robot Image Rotator

  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion
  • Robot Invasion

Contact Info

  • Kathleen Letsky, Curriculum Specialist
  • Nathan Patia, STEM Specialist
  • Salvador Cabusi, Technology Specialist
  • Robot Invasion
  • Krause Family Foundation
  • Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Tel: 808.778.1265

The Krause Family Foundation: ‘Alana Ke Aloha

  • ‘Alana Ke Aloha places relationship at the heart of all learning.  We create and support projects that engage participants’ imagination, collaboration, and problem solving toward a healthy planet.
  • The Krause Family Foundation: ‘Alana Ke Aloha is a private, 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization (EIN: 27-1531421) registered (01/21/2010) in the State of Hawai‘i.