English 12 Lesson 9 Argument vs. Debate

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will plan, develop and write a focused essay that has a clear position and logical progression of ideas supported by relevant research using MLA format.
  • Students will use and incorporate varied note taking skills to organize and synthesize information from print and electronic primary and secondary sources, such as articles found doing internet research, to develop a coherent argument.
  • Students will strategically incorporate source material in their essay in a variety of ways, including directly quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
  • Students will use proofreading and editing strategies to correct in and improve organization, content, usage and mechanics. Students will use as appropriate print and electronic tools, such as dictionaries, thesaurus, spell check, and grammar check to assist them in their editing processes.

You have heard the words, but what is the difference between an argument and a debate?

An argument can be defined as an opinion that is supported with evidence. Debates are based upon arguments. A formal debate usually takes place in a formal setting with a team representing each side of the argument. Specific guidelines are followed, and the debate is usually judged. In order to debate an argument, you need to know both the pros and cons of the issue. In a debate, each team presents a different side of the argument. You must be able to defend your side and support your reasoning with evidence. In other words, saying that you don't like broccoli because it doesn't taste good would not provide any substance for a debate. However, providing reasons for why it's better for a parent to stay at home with a child as opposed to both parents working outside the home is a debate that has been occurring for years.

Your task is to select one of the topics below and choose which side to support. Read the contents of this website: Debating Rules and Guidelines.  

Do not submit text that you have copied from sources, including websites. All of your work should be in your own words. Using copied text would be considered plagiarism. For more information, review our page on Plagiarism and Citation .

You are going to choose a position regarding a debatable topic, and write an essay that presents an argument supporting your position.


Step 1: Do not proceed to Step 2 until your work for Step 1 has been approved by the teacher. 


In Step 1 include the following:  


Step 2: Prepare for your debate by writing a 750-word essay based on your research. The essay should state your side of the argument, and  the pros and cons of your position.  You will need to use your research to support your ideas.  Use parenthetical citations, and at the end of your essay, and list your sources in a Works Cited list at the end of your essay. Use this site for examples: Plagiarism and Citation.   

Be sure to save all your work and research.  Be prepared to defend your position with research if it is challenged.

Grading for this lesson:

  • To get a 10: All answers are correct the first time, or within first revision.
  • To get a 9: You can have 1 incorrect answers.
  • To get an 8: You can have 2 incorrect answers.
  • To get a 7: You can have 3 incorrect answers.
  • To get a 6: You can have 4 incorrect answers.
  • To get a 5: 5 or more incorrect answers.  

Also be aware that you will have a chance to revise your work. More than 2 revisions will result in a lower grade. So read the directions carefully and make sure you meet the requirements.

If you have many errors, but can tell us what we corrected and give us a good reason as to why (e.g. "because a comma needs to be there" is not acceptable, you need to tell us WHY a comma needs to be there), you may have a chance to increase your grade.



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