As many parents may have noticed, fifth graders love debates! As part of our unit of study on World War II, students had an opportunity to continue to develop their debating skills in class this week.
Classes were divided into two teams, comprised of three lead speakers, three cross-examiners and one summarizer. One team was charged with supporting the argument that America should have joined the war effort before the bombing of Pearl Harbor (Interventionism). The other team supported the argument that America should have stayed out of foreign affairs altogether (Isolationism).
Students applied what they had already learned in class about this conflict and added their own insights to create compelling arguments for both sides. Lots of team brainstorming preceded each debate, and group ‘huddles’ were encouraged during the debates to help support each student in their assigned role.
Ongoing debating practice helps students structure and organize thoughts, use evidence and reasoning, and improve higher order critical thinking skills. It also enhances their communication and collaboration with their peers.
Be advised that when you brave your next debate with a fifth grader, you might need a more compelling argument to withstand their cross-examination!