Tuesday, December 13, 2016

From Town Hall to Brand New Law (Or Not)

 Are you ready to engage in debate in your classroom? Check out this presentation from the 2016 Georgia Council of the Social Studies Conference.

Active Citizen: Make It So!

This lesson is about how to engage students by modeling a town hall debate using current controversial topics and character roles. Debates can be used to facilitate topic learning in the classroom. Students both debate and plan strategy to bring a successful initiative to the ballot. The conclusion of the debate will require students to reflect and vote via secret ballot as to the best argument presented.

Engagement: Researching Government & the People

As part of the research process, students will evaluate sources and use evidence to craft arguments that reflect democratic principles.  Students will develop questions and plan inquiries for their debate opponents. Students will evaluate public policies in terms of outcomes and consequences to prepare position statements. To craft adequate statements, students will analyze the impact of civic virtues, democratic principles, and rights. The debate will require students to examine historical, contemporary, and emerging views of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights. At the finish of debates, students will communicate their conclusions and encourage informed action.

Debate Questions:
  • What is the historical process or foundation used for/against this topic?
  • What rights or responsibilities does this topic address in today’s society or evolution of the American democracy?
  • How does this topic engage citizens into a larger understanding of society and/or history?
  • How do citizens decide to accept or change their position on this topic?
  • How can this topic allow individuals to make choices to amend or change their position?

The Great Debate
  •  Each side gets a 2 minute opening statement
  • One person speaks for 3 minutes and then is questioned by BOTH people from the opposing side for a total of 4 minutes.  During this time the one person who spoke is “on their own” to defend what they said while being questioned by the two who oppose them.
  • Then one person from the other side speaks for 3 minutes and is questioned for 4 minutes.  This continues with the 2nd person from the first team speaking for 3 minutes and then being questioned for 4 minutes and finally the 2nd person from the final team speaking for 3 minutes and being questioned for 4 minutes.
  • After each side gives their closing statement a vote is taken from the class.
  • Vote via secret ballot on which side presented the best argument & answered the arguments of the opposing side.

Engagement Examples: Government and the People
  • Twitter Town Hall @ THE WHITE HOUSE  Petition the White House
  • Big Block of Cheese Day
A photo posted by Histocrats (@histocrats) on

Resources for Current Information

Electronic Debate in Class -Media Options for the Classroom
  • Google Classroom (comments enabled)   
  • Padlet
    Edmodo (comments enabled)    
  • TodaysMeet
  • Poll Everywhere