For some of us, one of the most memorable learning activities from our school years is debates. This is especially true if you had a wide berth on what topic to choose because having a choice is a great way to ensure that you actually researched the topic and you devised an interesting way to defend your side of the argument.
At IST, grade 8 students do the Balloon Debate as one of their summative tasks for English Language and Literature. The students are assigned John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' to read English class. After reading the novel, they are put into debate groups, and each member had to pick a character they want to portray in the debate.
The novel is set during the Great Depression, and the characters are ranch hands with dreams of owning their own piece of land one day.
For the debate, students chose ONE of the following characters' point of view from which to argue: George, Lennie, Curley, Curley's wife or Slim. While staying in character each had to write and debate on why they should not lose their jobs on the ranch. The rest of the class then voted on who should stay and who should leave.
What ensued was a fun, thoughtful and carefully written roast between the characters!
These debates happen every school year. And because of the approach, they ensure that students take up a lasting interest in language and literature. The Balloon Debate allows students to experience the fun side of language and literature.