Revolution Debate: Is Revolution Justified?

Is Revolution Justified? A Middle School International Debate Project


Standards and Benchmarks

Behavior Science – #1 – Understand various institutions influence people.

  • Learning Target – I can explain forms of protest to British rule in the Colonies.

Behavior Science – #3 – Understand that various factors affect decisions that individuals make.

  • Learning Target – I can identify the reasons why the American Colonies and Britain began to grow apart.

History #1 – Understand historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures…the growth and breakdown of colonial systems.

  • Learning Target – I can justify my argument for historical periods and patterns of change for both the affirmative and negative sides of an issue, such as the growth and breakdown of the British colonial system.


  • Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.


  • Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content. ◦Introduce claim(s) about a topic or issue, acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
  • Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.
  • Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • Establish and maintain a formal style.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

Participating Schools




Part 2: Organization of Teams

Is Revolution Justified? is a debate project for older students organized into teams of 3. This is the model we know works. The grid below is designed for a project with about 500 students, but will expand to meet the needs of about 1000 students. Each team will aim to have 3 students from the same school on each team

Due to the fact that Bettendorf Middle School makes up half of the students in this particular debate so far and working to figure out the logistics of the calendar, instruction time, and use of technology/computers, we would like to propose that BMS take on the Negative side of the debate. There will be other openings for negative sides, but with looking at the calendar of the other schools working through just one side collectively might be one option to help organize the debate a little bit. Additionally, we also realize that not everyone has access to devices every class period (BMS is limited with access) so this might help request devices as needed.

A spreadsheet has been constructed to allow all schools to match up students accordingly. Please group your students by ability levels to the best that you can. This will ensure that students are paired up in fair and with equity to allow for a quality debate for all participants.

We have created four sections of groupings.

  1. High
  2. Medium High
  3. Medium Low
  4. Low

When sorting students into these groups how will you make the decision?

  • Look at standardized scores such as MAP, State Testing, SRI, or other methods
  • Go on classwork and interest of the student. Some students who are passionate about social studies will do better than the student with high scores on a test, but not motivated
  • Use your gut instinct as a professional educator

We all understand that not everything works perfectly in education. There will be variations to the groups of three.

  • Option 1: A three man roster. Short and sweet with nothing to worry about. Each individual has a speaking part throughout the debate
  • Option 2: A team of four. There are times due to IEP(Individualized Education Plans, 504s, and other circumstances) that might make a team of four a better option for students. Sometimes with numbers in your classroom this makes logistics work out better.
  • Option 3: A team of two. Perhaps there is a team of two. Maybe you just don’t have that perfect ratio of teams of 3 for each category. If you are okay with a team of 2, then that is fine. One student will have to speak twice.
  • Option 4: If schools want to pilot the idea of a mixed team of locations, then this can also be arranged. A team could consist of students from different schools. There is more work and logistics, but it is possible to be done if we have people wanting to experiment.

When you enter your student’s name please follow this protocol so that we can make sure nobody is paired up with their own school

School ID: Student Name

Example: BMS Aaron M

Please do not provide last names. A first letter of last name is fine.

As we work to fill in the teams we must work to stay in communication to ensure everyone feels supported and understands what is going on.


Part 3: Calendar and Deadlines

  • October 2nd – All schools are signed up to participate in the debate.
  • October 6th –
    • All students entered into the spreadsheet according to ability.
    • All schools will have access to Voicethread and tutorials to make sure teachers know how it works along with logins.
  • October 13th – Teacher Debate complete to make sure we all know how to record and debate. This is important for teachers to do to make sure we all understand the tech side of the debate
  • October 20th – Affirmative Speaker #1 has recorded opening remarks to Voicethread
  • October 24th – Negative Speaker #1 has recorded opening remarks and first rebuttal to Voicethread
  • October 26th – Affirmative Speaker #2 has recorded rebuttal and any other information to Voicethread
  • November 7th – Negative speakers #2 AND #3 have recorded rebuttals and closing remarks to Voicethread
  • November 9th – Affirmative Speaker #3 have recorded closing remarks


Part 4: Collaboration

A folder has been created(coming soon with updates) where we can collectively impact our teaching practices. As much as this project is about student learning, there is a great power in teachers learning as well. This is one of the most powerful elements to collaboration projects like this debate. In this folder we encourage everyone to share lesson ideas, activities, assessments, forms, videos, resources, etc. The power of the group is the group so if everyone shares, then we can all improve our own instruction which directly impacts the student learning. If you need help with sharing or need support please reach out so we can help.

For example, in this folder we have created a folder called Bettendorf Resources where we will share all of our files and systems of operation. In that folder you can see our timeline of how we plan to cover content and the debate.


Part 5: Debate Structure

The debate structure is organized for an asynchronous process to happen. This allows schools to collaborate and prepare properly while still trying to adhere to the feeling of a live debate

There are three rounds to the debate structured as seen below:

Affirmative Speech#1 (3-5 minutes)

Negative Speech #1 (3-5 minutes)

Affirmative Speech #2 (3-5 minutes)

Negative Speech #2 (3-5 minutes)

Negative Rebuttal Speech #3 (3-5 minutes)

Affirmative Rebuttal Speech #3 (3-5 minutes)

This follows a typical debate protocol. Students must adhere to the time frame or they will be penalized points. The reasons for the time frame are as follows:

  1. To challenge students to develop a clear and concise argument process to speak clearly and with focus and precision.
  2. To allow adequate time during a class period to record a speech over due to glitches, a mess up, or just to make it better.
  3. To create an adequate time piece that will allow the other team proper time to learn how to listen actively and make necessary adjustments to their next speech.

Each speaker has a goal to reach within their speech

First Speaker – This is a sample outline. Basically, students will be opening up the debate by explaining what the debate is actually about. They must showcase their understanding of the statement and how they plan to argue. Additionally, they must bring out at least two points to prove their side of the debate.

We have created a basic outline/script to give teachers and students an example of what it might look like.

Second Speaker – This speaker have the toughest job. These speakers have two goals to accomplish. First, they must refute the ideas that the first speaker of the opposing side brought to the debate. They must provide facts and evidence arguing that they have a better angle to the debate. Second, they must include their final points to their teams debate. This is the last chance to bring in any new evidence to argue in favor of their debate side.

Once again, we have created a sample outline and structure.

Third Speaker – This speaker has one final job and that is to bring closure to the debate. They cannot introduce any new information since the opposing side would not have a chance to refute those points. The speaker must basically mesh everything shared in the debate and close things out. The goal is to showcase that their team made the strongest argument for their side of the debate. They have less time than the other speakers so be cautious of your wordplay.

Finally, we have another sample outline for these speakers.

A common question that comes up with students and classes is how do we argue? Remember, we must not just share opinions. Everything must be supported with facts. We use the ARE method when structuring arguments.

Here are some resources to consider when framing your arguments

Would you like to listen to an example? Here is one from last year to give you a sense for how the debates look and sound


Part 6: Judging The Debate

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