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Presented at the 2012NEATE Fall Convention by Roz Kubek Pembroke Public Schools. THE LITERARY DEBATE. Fostering: C lose reading and textual evidence Speaking and listening Rhetorical skills 8:15 – 9:30 a.m. Session I. Today’s Session: . The Basics: Definition Materials Time

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the literary debate

Presented at the 2012NEATE

Fall Convention by

Roz Kubek

Pembroke Public Schools



Close reading and textual evidence

Speaking and listening

Rhetorical skills

8:15 – 9:30 a.m. Session I

today s session
Today’s Session:
  • The Basics:
    • Definition
    • Materials
    • Time
    • Objectives
    • Organizing
    • Getting Started
    • Rules

2. Assessment:

  • Rubric
  • Self-Assessments

3. Pointers:

  • Some ideas
  • Some tips and feedback
the literary debate1

Presented at the 2012NEATE

Fall Convention by

Roz Kubek

Pembroke Public Schools

The Literary Debate

A “semi-formal” debate over a literary question

materials needed
Materials needed:
  • A literary text or texts (agreed upon editions)
  • A stopwatch
  • A classroom physically divided into two sides
  • Debate Rules and Protocols
  • Optional but nice: A lectern or podium

*(Other options: t-shirts, costumes, a “panel” of judges; external sources)

the unstated objectives
The “Unstated” Objectives
  • To get students to actively read, listen, and speak to each other
  • To provide a structure for teaching speaking and listening skills while teaching everything else we need to teach
the stated objectives
The Stated Objectives

Pro (The Angels)

Con (The Devils)

To disprove construct by finding holes in argumentation and support (and by offering an alternative or counter-argument)

To defend objections convincingly

  • To prove construct within a reasonable doubt using clear and logical arguments and strong textual evidence
  • To defend position convincingly
minimum time needed
Minimum Time Needed
  • 4-5 classes
    • (+ Can be extended up to 2-1/2 weeks)
how to organize
How to organize
  • Create teams (if class is large, create a team of judges)
  • Define roles for students prior to their self-assignments
  • Explain the goal and pointers for success
  • Explain the “rules” including time, deportment, and objections
  • Allow 2-3 classes/homework for prep
  • Allow 1-2 classes for argumentation
the basics start with
THE BASICS: Start with:
  • Shorter texts
  • A manageable construct
  • A clear definition of roles
  • Yourself as judge
  • 2 consecutive runs in fixed teams
  • Self-selected student roles
  • A “walk-through” practice debate
the roles for b oth sides 2 3 people role
The Roles for Both Sides(2-3 people/role)
  • Opening argument (4 min each)
  • Constructive arguments (4 min each)
  • Rebuttals (3 minutes each)
  • Closing arguments (4 minutes)
  • Objectors (optional separate role)
objection 1 point of information
Objection #1: Point of Information
  • Made during arguments only
  • Asked of speaker who can grant or deny
  • Always in the form of a question- Usually rhetorical
    • Isn’t it true that…
    • Can’t it also be argued that…
  • Speaker can choose to answer or not
objection 2 point of order
Objection #2:Point of Order
  • Can be made during argument or rebuttal
  • Asked of moderator who can ask clarifying questions
  • Moderator accepts or denies point
  • Made when other side has basically made a mistake:
      • Incorrect citation
      • Out of context
      • Irrelevancy
      • (2-3 people) Wrong info
objection 3 point of personal privilege
Objection #3:Point of Personal Privilege
  • Can be made any time
  • Bathroom break
  • Other side is getting too personal and straying from argument
  • Self-assessments
  • Assessed based on presentation using rubric
  • Can count as extra quiz points for winning side or as a quiz or test grade (usually with a follow-up essay)
some debate topics
Some Debate Topics
  • Excerpts from Milton’s Paradise Lost – The fall of man is primarily the fault of ________________
  • Kafka’s The Hunger Artist (short story)- The story is an allegory for the role of the artist in society.
  • Sexton’s To A Friend Whose Work Has Come to TriumphThe overall tone of the poem is ironic.
  • Hardy’s Convergence of the TwainMan is a victim of his own hubris (rather than cosmic forces).
debate topics more suggestions from longer works
Debate Topics: More Suggestions from Longer Works
  • Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment- The epilogue (salvation for the main character) is a reasonable literary conclusion to the novel.
  • Dickens’ Great Expectations or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet- The original endings is the logical ending of the work.
  • Great Gatsbyor Death of a Salesman- Gatsby (or Willy Loman) is a victim of society (rather than of his own choices)
  • Of Mice and Men-Lenny and George’s dream was never realistic and its failure was inevitable.
students tips for debaters
Students’ Tips for Debaters
  • Speak loudly and slowly (“She’s old”).
  • Make sure your points are organized and lead the judge back to your thesis.
  • Make sure you cite!
  • Don’t deny all of the points of information, but you can deny some of them.
  • Make sure you explain WHY your quote is good evidence.
  • Don’t make your quote too long- She has trouble following long quotes.
  • Listen for places to object– It throws off the speaker.
  • But make sure you know what you are talking about when you object!
most of all the winning team
Most of All: The winning team
  • KNOWS the (work being debated)- If you didn’t read it, you’d better read it before the debate or your team will be mad at you.
  • KNOWS the audience- You want to win them to your side and not frustrate them.
  • USES TEAM WORK- You need people who can write a good closing and people who can think fast, too.
samples of self assessments
Samples of Self-Assessments
  • “I prepared well; I logged in three hours of close reading for our first argument and became the bible expert for our group.”
  • “I caught a major mistake the other team made about the connotation of the word “grasp,” and that cost our team.”
  • “We had great arguments and thinking, but they beat us with specific evidence from the poem.”
  • Next time: I will ask to do the opening or the closing because I got too rattled thinking on my feet when I didn’t understand the book well enough.
  • Next Time: I will make sure the weaker members of the group are confident they know what to do.
10 minute practice debate
10 Minute Practice Debate
  • To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph by Anne Sexton
  • Is the speaker’s tone to the audience sincere or is the speaker being ironic?
  • Angels: Tone is sincere- Proof?
  • Devils: Verbal Irony-Proof?