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Debate in Composition

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Debate in Composition

By Mrs. Ogg


Students in my composition class recently wrote persuasive essays, and then they were tasked with getting in groups and creating presentations about their essay topics for a class debate. Half the class debated about Puerto Rico gaining statehood in the United States. The other half of the class debated about whether or not Lee Harvey Oswald really assassinated JFK on his own. As an added challenge to this essay and to the debate, students did not get to choose which side they argued. Even so, each group became embedded in their arguments, and the debates got intense at times.


On Thursday, February 22nd, Megan Moore, Abe Bruno, and Taylor Shaw argued against Puerto Rico gaining statehood. Madison Zvolanek, Allison Dunn, and Sammie Anderson argued for Puerto Rico gaining statehood. Both groups gave excellent presentations, then they were allowed to have some work time in order to create a rebuttal to the other group’s presentation. The rebuttal was were the groups really got into the debate, because it was done on the spot, and it gave them a chance to show their enthusiasm for their arguments. Mrs. McKinney, Miss Thiry, and myself judged the debate to decide the winner. I always invite extra judges, because it is hard for me to decide the winner on my own. It can be a very close call, as it was in this case. The winners were Megan, Sidney, Taylor, and Abe, arguing against Puerto Rico becoming a state, and they only won by ONE point. However, both groups did well and should be proud of their work.


On Friday, February 23rd, Jordan Cookus, Josh Norris, Justin Meints, and Matt Gebhard argued that Oswald was not the only one who fired shots at JFK the day of his assassination. There was a Secret Service cover-up to hide the fact that Agent Hickey accidentally discharged his weapon, delivering the fatal shot to JFK. Sarah Garrels and Lydia Davison argued that Oswald alone fired shots at JFK. Just like the previous debates, they did a great job on their presentations, but the debate didn’t really start to heat up until the rebuttal. Mr. Murphy, Miss Thiry, and myself judged this debate. In the end, the boys’ group one by only three points. It was a tough call.


This is one of my favorite assignments to do with the composition students. This year I let them decide which topics they would debate, and they got to debate two topics instead of just one, which I will probably do from now on, because I felt like they made excellent choices and took it seriously, and it allowed for smaller group sizes. I think they did a wonderful job.