Our students (Andrew Holly is my team teacher) were preparing to debate the motive of the United States during our period of expansion in the Spanish American War. A couple of days before the actual debate we had a practice debate with silly topics for practice. We wanted students to get used to the format, see how much research they needed to do in preparation, and practice public speaking with no pressure. We condensed the time limits by a third to fit all of them in one day.
We used such topics as vampires vs. zombies, hotdogs vs. hamburgs, red vs. blue, Michigan vs. Michigan State, and our favorite Kaechele vs. Holly. Groups randomly drew their topics and had twenty minutes to research and prepare. For the groups that had us we gave each side five minutes to interview us and ask us anything they wanted.
We can’t take credit for this idea as we did a debate last year and the students didn’t like the lame topic we gave them and requested Kaechele vs. Holly. It was a blast. Students this year didn’t know us as well since it is the beginning of the year whereas last year we did our debate at the end of the year.
We feel like allowing students to debate us is a great experience for the whole class. It lets the class get to know us better, but most importantly it shows them that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It helps us build relationships with our students as being approachable and a culture of fun and weirdness in our room. Being vulnerable in front of your students is always a win.