Room for Debate would be a great option for students who are having class discussions around a current event. To set the stage, teachers could talk about the building blocks of rhetorical communication; some discussion around bias, opinion, ethos, pathos, and logos would be a good fit here. Teachers can also delve into discussions about the media and its effect on viewers and readers.
The site might also be used for research purposes: Students could research topics for an upcoming class debate, research paper, or position paper. Because there are so many sources involved, students could use the site as a place to gather evidence for arguments and counter-arguments. When collecting evidence from different resources, it’s always good to encourage students to think about the source and ask themselves if it's reliable, authoritative, and useful. Be sure to have kids think critically about who these authors are and what biases might shape their perspectives.Continue reading Show less
Room for Debate is The New York Times’s opinion site where knowledgeable commentators share perspectives on recent events in the news. The site allows users to review topics as well as view various opinions on each topic. Each article is intended to be persuasive, highlighting the author and their perspective. Each comes with a highlighted segment of text to give readers a quick glimpse at the author’s main argument. Discussions are easily navigable, and some topics may be well suited for high school students.
Reader comments are moderated Monday through Friday on the site and, notably, The New York Times chooses important comments; readers’ picks of comments are also highlighted. It's important to note that this site is created for a general readership, not for education. Nevertheless, topics and discussions can relate nicely to history, English, or humanities studies.
There are tons of topics to explore, including some that students may not be completely familiar with, like "The A.D.A. 25 Years Later" or "Racist Symbols to Reconsider." The depth at which these topics are covered is wonderful: Opinions are shared from all sides of a topic, giving readers the chance to consider new perspectives and agree with, go against, or empathize with others. Other than reading about the different opinions, students will not take an especially active role in the site, so teachers may need to offer extension activities to make the learning here more meaningful. There are no tutorials or help sections, so students will have to be reliable, independent workers, or teachers should expect to help them navigate certain topics.
Key Standards Supported
Reading History/Social Studies
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
Reading Informational Text
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 9–10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
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