SIS News Archive
December 3rd marked The Third Annual GR8 Debate and Speech Night, at SIS. What started as a challenge to our students, a few years ago, has now become a tradition in the middle school, and a powerful component of our curriculum.
The 8th grade diligently prepared to debate an issue that tied our historical look at the Age of Enlightenment, and brought the ideas of human rights, and the balance between freedom and security, into a modern context. The proposition this year was: "Is it humane to restrict peoples' freedom of movement?"
The issue addressed the ability of people to move freely within and beyond the borders of their nation of origin. Whether as a refugee, a traveler, or as an employee, every nation is attempting to balance the individual rights of its citizens, with the security of its borders, during the most complex, challenging, and interconnected time in human history.
As part of their preparation, teams of three had to research and prepare arguments on both sides of the issue. The teams collaborated to craft arguments using all the rhetorical appeals, while bolstering their arguments with evidence from reliable sources. Students not only had to switch sides during their second debate, but each member took on a different one of the three roles of: Opening, Rebuttal, and Closing Statement. All debaters did a remarkable job.
For the second year in a row, we also allowed students, voted by their peers, to present a persuasive speech of their choosing. Students crafted short speeches on a topic of interest, earlier in the unit. Speeches ranged from "The Perils of Social Media" and "Stopping Environmental Destruction" to "It is Okay to be Weird" and "Waffles are Superior to Pancakes." The speakers did a remarkable job of sharing their ideas and engaging the audience.
The Gr8 Debate was a success largely due to the collaboration between teachers, as well. Six teachers volunteered to moderate the debates, as well as evaluate the teams. The event was created, organized, and hosted by MS Humanities teacher Mr. Nathan Lill. Media specialist, and resident Lawyer, Mr. William Yung, worked for the third year as a consultant, coach, and teacher. Mrs. Ceci Gomez helped coordinate the event and support EAP students, throughout their preparation for the event. And the Learning Innovation Team and Mr. Peter Henniger documented the evening with videos and photos.
Overall, it was another successful event. If you have suggestions for next year's debate topic, please pass them along to MS Humanities teacher Mr. Nathan Lill (firstname.lastname@example.org).