Use the debates and discussions posted on the site for a lesson in research and possibly as "non-examples" or illustrations of ineffective arguments. The discussions' and debates' short format can be a way to challenge kids to crystallize their debate topics into a terse, simple statement. Have them work to shorten their topics and hone their language to get at the heart of the topic they want to discuss.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: The Room4Debate site is no longer available, and the URL now points to sexually explicit material.
Room4Debate is a site for exploring, posting, and commenting on discussion-worthy topics. The site's homepage displays several recent posts from the site's "panelists," and users can explore all public posts via the site navigation at the top of the page. Select "Debates" to display a series of essays (submitted mostly by the site's creators) that explore domestic and international issues. Users can then comment on the issues raised in these essays. Choose "Discussions" to view 140-character prompts (followed by 150-character explanations) about an issue and then submit your own responses for or against that issue. Responses appear in two columns -- for and against -- below the topic's description. Pick "Collections" to see a series of debates and discussions related to a single topic (like Climate Change or Building a Strong Haiti), or pick "Categories" to view posts on the site by topic, like Arts, Education, Justice, or Politics.
Users can also create a free account using their email address or a social media account (Twitter, Facebook, or Google accounts all work). Users then can submit their own Debates or Discussions, tag them with a category from the pre-made list, add an image, add other tags to offer further description, and then add "panelists" for the conversation.
The content and debates already on the site are pretty limited in accuracy and impact. Pockets of content here are strong: Some good content on Haiti surfaces issues kids might not have considered, and some (highly technical) questions about Web development might appeal to more tech-minded types.
That being said, there's really not a lot here, and good safeguards aren't in place (like dedicated moderators) to prevent debates and discussions from devolving into the same flame wars you might find elsewhere in comment sections or social media. Also, the panelists on the site's pre-made content have limited authority and don't make especially compelling arguments. Few cite credible sources or offer cogent arguments, and they don't offer models that students or teachers should emulate. Additionally, the debates and discussions that include back-and-forths are a little tough to read: It's hard to tell visually which post responds to which. Finally, the image search feature brings up some iffy content when you create your own debates and discussions, making this a questionable resource for the classroom. Though this is a great concept, teachers should look elsewhere for a rich experience to build students' debating skills.
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.