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Junior Scholastic Teaching Kits
Teacher-approved stories, resources, and worksheets, courtesy of Junior Scholastic, the middle school Social Studies classroom magazine.
Social Studies Debate Kit
Teaching the art of debating—and how to write an effective argument essay—can help students master critical-thinking and communication skills.
Featured Teaching Kits
Teacher-approved stories, resources, and worksheets for teaching students how to evaluate both sides of a debate and craft the perfect argument essay, courtesy of Junior Scholastic, the middle school Social Studies classroom magazine
Lunch requirements have been a heated topic in American schools for years. And recent moves by the government have stirred up this debate once again. Why are people fighting over lunch? And how will this fight affect what's on your plate?
The average schoolteacher makes $56,000 in a year. The average NBA player makes $7.1 million. Do you think that's fair? Read this debate and pick a side.
Some people say exploring Mars will help us learn more about Earth. Others say it’s a huge waste of time and money. What do you think?
Tracking apps, such as Life360 and TeenSafe, let parents follow their kids’ movements in real time. Supporters say the apps help keep kids safe. But are they an invasion of their privacy?
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Famous quotes about debating throughout history
“Don't raise your voice, improve your argument.”
— Desmond Tutu, a human rights activist from South Africa
“In all debates, let truth be thy aim, not victory, or an unjust interest.”
— William Penn, founder of the American colony that became the state of Pennsylvania
“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.”
— Joseph Joubert, a French writer who died in 1824
“I love argument. I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me. That's not their job.”
— Margaret Thatcher, first female prime minister of the United Kingdom
Four famous debaters who made an impact
Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi is considered one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century. He often debated his fellow revolutionaries on politics, religion, culture, and the best way to achieve independence from Great Britain. Gandhi’s public-speaking skills eventually inspired thousands of people in India to join his nonviolent quest to protest British rule of their country.
The 16th U.S. president is widely considered one of the best public speakers—and debaters—in history. During a July 1858 debate against Stephen Douglas for a U.S. Senate seat, Lincoln uttered this famous phrase: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
The anti-apartheid leader and 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner used his skills at debating, public speaking, and speech writing to challenge—and change—South Africa’s system of oppression. As the president of South Africa, Mandela often encouraged debate as essential to the democratic process.
The first female prime minister of the United Kingdom was widely respected for her eloquent speeches and debating skills. In fact, experts say Thatcher’s speeches helped fuel her rise to power at a time when many women lacked prominent roles in politics. Thatcher’s 1976 speech “Britain Awake” helped make the case for strengthening the nation’s defenses during the Cold War and earned her the nickname the “Iron Lady.”
Supplemental resources that link to external websites about debating
Tips and Tools for Argument Writing
Use this guide from the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to learn how to make a claim and support it with reasons and evidence.
National Speech and Debate Association
The NSDA provides educational resources, competitive opportunities, and expertise to foster students’ communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative skills.
Education World: It’s Up for Debate
Get teaching tips and lesson plans for how to hold effective class debates.
Terms and definitions that pertain to debating
ad hominem attack
an attack on a person rather than on his or her argument
a position or viewpoint along with the claims and evidence used to support that position
a statement that supports a position
a rebuttal, or argument against, an opposing viewpoint or claim
facts, statistics, examples, and comparisons that show why a claim should be believed
to prove that a statement, position, or claim is wrong or false
Explore Other Topics
Discover other free social studies topics and middle school teaching resources.
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From Commander-in-Chief to Chief-of-State, the President has many critical roles.
The United States Constitution
An overview of humanity’s first large societies: how they formed, who ruled them, and how they influenced the world today.
The Civil Rights Movement
Women’s History: The Struggle for Equality
Learn about important women throughout history—including Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth—and the progress that’s been made in the fight for gender equality.
The History and Heroes of World War II
An overview of World War II: why the U.S. got involved, what citizens did to fight back, and how people worldwide were affected
Real Teens of History
These inspiring teens fought for what they believed in—and made history in the process.
Mastering Media Literacy and Digital Literacy
In an increasingly digital world, being able to navigate technology skillfully and evaluate online resources for accuracy and trustworthiness is crucial.
Teaching map skills can build students’ geography knowledge—and enhance their understanding of the world in which they live.
Middle School Civics
An overview of civics: what it means to be a good citizen, how democracy works, and why staying informed and engaged matters—even as kids.
The Civil War and Reconstruction
Use these features and supporting resources to give students deeper as well as broader knowledge of these key periods in U.S. history.
The U.S. is a nation of immigrants, built by people who left their homes to seek new lives and opportunities. However, Americans' feelings about immigrants are mixed.
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Giacomo Gambineri (illustration); Aaron Dyer; food styling: Jessie Damuck (Food Fight); Photo Illustration by Vanessa Irena for Scholastic; Stacy Revere/Getty Images (Aaron Rodgers); Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images (Mike Trout); Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images (Stephen Curry); NASA (Mars Base); Hero Images/Getty Images (Teens); 123design/Shutterstock.com (Tags); Elliott & Fry/Getty Images (Gandhi); Everett Historical/Shutterstock.com (Lincoln); Susan Winters Cook/Getty Images (Mandela); Bettmann/Getty Images (Thatcher)