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I'm thinking of doing a written debate activity in the debate class I teach. I'm looking for feedback.

 

My main goal is to get students to intensively focus on one single issue. I want them to move beyond tag-line debating and get into the details. For example, instead of just saying, "Economy is good now," I want them to wade into specific indicators of economic well-being and what economists actually infer from them.

 

Here is my thought: Aff. writes three arguments of its choosing on a narrow topic, maybe two pages, double-spaced, with no direct quotations; the Neg. gets the paper and chooses one aff. argument to respond to--getting to write three responses, two double-spaced pages; the process repeats for a couple of cycles.

 

The idea is that only getting to respond to one opponent argument narrows down the debate quickly. If they can't respond with breadth, they've got to respond with depth.

 

Oh, one other detail is that we'll be bouncing two topics back and forth. While the students are waiting for their opponents to write their responses, they'll be working on writing their own responses on a different topic.

 

Has anyone used a written debate activity in their class? Any feedback or thoughts on my activity?

 

Thanks!

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The problem I see with this is that it is predicated on the assumption that the debaters in question will submit their assignments. If, for example, you organize a system whereby one debater responds to the essay of another debater whilst they work on producing an "affirmative case" themselves, the system you devised would only work insofar the students actually submit their assignments. I don't know how long the deadline is going to be for the debaters but if its something like 1 or 2 days, expect a very low turnout in terms of submission. Other than that, it seems like a very good way for debaters to learn more about the topics in which they are debating by making them focus on singular issues rather than a myriad of issues. 

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

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Suggestions:

-Make the first argument list have to be picking out the 3 arguments from a highlighted card.

 

-Make sure every argument has to have a claim, warrant, and implication.

 

-Go over some theories relevant to the topic at hand. For example, before an economics debate, give a brief explanation of protectionism, tariffs, globalization, and other relevant ideas and then immediately cement them by letting your students apply them to topics they are likely to debate.

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