K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • work in a group and use prior knowledge to write persuasive statements to use in a debate.
  • discover how religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs influence decisions in all walks of life.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2 days


  • Kooshball, bean bag, or Nerfball
  • note cards (two different colors if possible)
  • Situation handout
  • five chairs in front of the room for judges

Technology resources

Computer with internet access (optional)


  • Students will form groups as they enter the room. You may want to form the groups ahead of time.
  • Read the situation and give a copy to each group.


  1. Students will discuss both sides of the situation - the pros and cons of each side. While they are discussing, the teacher will distribute note cards to each group (half of the groups one color, another color to the other groups).
  2. Give the students about 5 to 10 minutes and then assign sides: one color will write statements to keep the Islamic state, one color will write statements for a new government.
  3. Give students fifteen minutes to write statements. Each student should have a least one statement on their card.
  4. Call the judges forward. (See the Supplemental resources/information for teachers section below about the role of the judges.) Tell the students they are to direct their comments to the judges, not the teacher. Their job will be to make the final decision as to what government the country will have.
  5. Teacher will discuss rules of the debate:
    • No shouting, verbal abuse (name-calling, put-down, or laughter).
    • Whoever has the kooshball speaks. No one else.
    • The kooshball should be passed to everyone who wants to make a statement before rebuttals begin.
  6. Students will debate. Teacher throws kooshball to one person, that person gives their statement and then throws the kooshball to another person who gives their statement, and so on until everyone has given their statements and rebuttals.
  7. Save at least 10 minutes for follow-up discussion.
  8. The judges will discuss privately and then vote on which type of government the country should adopt based on the statements and arguments given during the debate.
  9. Judges will give their decision and give reasons.


Students will discuss the decision made by the judges. Was it based on arguments? Would the fact that we live in a democracy affect the decision made?

Supplemental information

  • The teacher should decide on the judges ahead of time. Try to pick students that are middle to high level but usually do not participate in class discussions. This gives them a chance to participate without too much pressure to speak.
  • You can use a kooshball to control debates but they also work well for any type of discussion. (Just watch out for students who will monopolize the kooshball or the baseball players who like to show off. Let them know this will not be allowed.)
  • The teacher’s role should be observer and evaluator once the kooshball has been given to the first person. I usually print out a class roster to keep up with grades. When a student gives a good statement I give them a numerical grade. For any rebuttals or subsequent statements they also get a grade for those. If a student does not participate but he/she turns in a notecard with a statement on it, I usually give them a low C or D depending on the statement. The judges get their grade by taking notes during the debate and turning those notes in with the notecards from the other students.


If your class periods are less than 60 minutes, you might want to make this a two-day lesson. Use the first day for research and preparation of arguments. Use the second day for the debate. This will give more time for students to develop arguments and rebuttals.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 7

        • 7.C&G.1 Understand the development of government in modern societies and regions. 7.C&G.1.1 Summarize the ideas that have shaped political thought in various societies and regions (e.g. Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution, democracy, communism...
        • 7.C.1 Understand how cultural values influence relationships between individuals, groups and political entities in modern societies and regions. 7.C.1.1 Explain how culture unites and divides modern societies and regions (e.g. enslavement of various peoples,...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 7

  • Goal 9: The learner will analyze the different forms of government developed in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
    • Objective 9.02: Describe how different types of governments such as democracies, dictatorships, monarchies, and oligarchies in Africa, Asia, and Australia carry out legislative, executive, and judicial functions and evaluate the effectiveness of each.
    • Objective 9.04: Describe how different governments in Africa, Asia, and Australia select leaders and establish laws in comparison to the United States and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each.
  • Goal 11: The learner will recognize the common characteristics of different cultures in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
    • Objective 11.03: Compare characteristics of political, economic, religious, and social institutions of selected cultures and evaluate their similarities and differences.
  • Goal 12: The learner will assess the influence of major religions, ethical beliefs, and values on cultures in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
    • Objective 12.01: Examine the major belief systems in selected regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia, and analyze their impact on cultural values, practices, and institutions.