Formal debates can be a powerful teaching and learning tool which allow a class to consider a controversial issue within your curriculum and analyze it in depth. Debates can make a refreshing distraction from traditional essay writing. Debates are an active way to engage and immerse students in a specific topic as well as reinforce composition skills. Below is an example of how to build an argument.
Argument: Burritos are the best Mexican food.
- Make a statement or claim. This is the topic sentence of the argument, it tells the audience what the argument is about. It is a very short. It simply states a reason to support or not support the topic.
Example: Burritos are safer to eat than tacos.
- State the reasons that explain what your statement means. It should be two to five sentences in length.
Example: Burritos are made of large flatbread called tortilla in which a savory filling if bundled. The contents of a burrito are usually rice, beans, salsa and cheese which can be messy. However, a burrito can be wrapped like a package so the contents of the burrito are safely kept inside. If the contents of the burrito are safely kept inside they are safe from the eater’s clothing. The burrito is unlike a taco, where the same messy fillings are merely placed in a crunchy corn tortilla that can only be folded in half like a card or a folder.
- Use evidence to support your reasoning. Evidence may be statistical, expert advice, historical, or anecdotal. Connections must be shown between your reasoning and your evidence.
Example: One example of the problem that the taco has is I once had a taco at lunch before I had a job interview and it spilled all over my white shirt and created a huge mess. If I had chosen to eat a burrito that might not have happened! (anecdotal+hypothetical)
- Tell me why anyone should care. Explain the significance of your argument. Can it measured? Explain what results it might have on society. The impact of the argument shows the audience why they should they care. Explain the significance of the argument quantitatively (in a way that can be measured) and/or qualitatively (in a way that can be described) and include what a likely result might be.
Example: After lunch, I felt like everyone was staring at the blob of taco on my shirt, it made me very self-conscious. As it turns out, I couldn’t concentrate on my final exam. If I had done well on my final, I would ,be taking a regents class at the high school. My life would be so much better, I would have a better academic resume for college. If I had a better resume, I could get into a better college. If I got into a better college, I would be able to get a better job. I would also be able to save a lot of money to buy a car or a house. With a higher test score I could make huge life changing decisions that would give me enormous benefits both now and in the future.