Three minutes left until the end of class. You’ve taught a great lesson, cleaned up your materials, and assigned the homework. You look at the clock and realize that you have three minutes left—not enough time to jump into a new topic, but too long to ask students to just sit quietly. What can you do to use this time well and ensure your classroom doesn’t descend into chaos?
One of my teacher resolutions this year is to help students grapple with complexity. I want them to read both fiction and informational texts with an eye to layers of meaning and multiple perspectives. Discussion is one tool to accomplish this goal and I've told you how much I love Socratic Seminar and Literature Circles, but today I want to talk about using debate in the classroom. DISCLAIMER: I am not trained in the classical form of debate, which has very particular goals, rules, and regulations. While I respect my colleagues who lead debate teams, I find that many English teachers I know do not know the traditional debate rules and many English students I know do not have the same kind of enthusiasm for every class period that many debate team members have for every debate. So instead of adhering to the structure, I am just going to offer some advice for preparing a simple classroom debate.