Grades 6-8: Debating Election Issues Blog Feature

By: Julia Cremin on October 28th, 2014

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Grades 6-8: Debating Election Issues

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With Election Day around the corner, now is the time to get students involved in how the election process works and informed about why it is important for them to be voting citizens.

In this lesson, students will research a local or state initiative that will be up for vote on the next ballot. Students will then do what middle-schoolers love to do: debate the issue. You can find out what is on the local ballot in your state’s next election by clicking on your state on the interactive map found here.

Print background information related to the initiatives on your state’s ballot, making a copy for each student. As students read articles from multiple perspectives, have them look for how the initiative would impact the state (or community) and the main arguments for and against it. Each student should select a side of the issue they will argue for during the debate.


Once students have prepared for the debate, set ground rules for how students should have effective and supportive communications in a respectful manner. You may choose to call these Accountable Talk Guidelines. Consider creating a poster to display during the debate to reinforce the communication expectations. (Click here for a customizable Accountable Talk Guidelines poster template.)

Explain how students will be assessed during the debate using the Debate Rubric Poster Maker Template (VIS106). Display the Accountable Talk Guidelines and Debate Rubric during class the day of the debate to make it clear the students will argue their points in a respecful and effective manner. 

Extend this lesson after state and local elections by having students track and monitor how their states and communities voted on the issues they debated, and report back to the class for further discussion.




Julia Cremin is a 6th grade Reading, Language Arts and Math teacher at O'Keeffe Middle School in Madison, WI. She is certified in Elementary Education (grades 1-9) with a minor in Mathematics. This is her fourth year teaching middle school.