Eighth grade students recently wrapped up their annual debate project. This year, the students researched resolutions on standardized testing, Amazon, and social media. They collaborated on sharing resources, developing logical points for arguments, and thinking of rebuttals before facing off for the formal debate. While COVID restrictions kept the debates limited to the classroom, the students shone in their ability to tackle both sides of challenging arguments. Mr. Missonis, a seasoned high school and college debate coach, was “impressed with the girls’ research, confidence and logic. These were relevant and nuanced topics and the girls rose to the occasion. They would have excelled in a high school competition with the quality I saw."
Two students, Carolina Lopez-Watt and Candace Beverly, were asked to share reflections on the experience, which is one of the culminating projects of the eighth grade year:
Carolina: The debate unit in eighth grade civics class is an essential part of the curriculum. My classmates and I were assigned a topic such as standardized testing, social media, and Amazon. About four to five people were in each issue. We then researched our subject in depth, while taking copious notes on Supreme Court cases and reliable sources that related to our issue. After studying our topic, we were placed on either the affirmative or opposing side of our issue. We got together with our fellow classmates on the same side of the argument, and worked together to prepare our debate speeches. When the time came to debate, our class was very professional and astute. Most of us dressed up, and we all gave our debate speeches our best, whether we were giving a constructive dissertation or a rebuttal. The 8th grade learned how to gather our thoughts, think on the spot, work as a team, and practiced orally discussing subjects of controversy in front of an audience. This experience has helped me with my confidence, organization, collaboration, and so much more, and I believe that this project is an indispensable part of the 8th grade curriculum at Stuart.
Candace: This past week, the eighth grade had the task of conducting our own debates on the topics of: The benefits of standardized testing; The dangers of social media; and the morality of the Amazon corporation. In this unit, we practiced our research skills, gained more public speaking experience, and worked together to produce arguments to defend our positions.