Non-fiction

English Year 5 Spring Argument and Debate

Argument and Debate

School uniform, detentions, mobile phones or screen time - there’s always an argument! This block lays the groundwork for effective argument and persuasion, written and spoken. Plus grammar: cohesion, paragraphs, commas.

Start with the core unit to introduce key texts. Then select from comprehension, SPAG and composition units.

Core
Unit 1 Core: Practising argument and debate
(suggested as 4 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Discuss a set of ‘Would you rather?’ scenarios, highlighting ‘opinion’ and ‘reasons’. Model using a frame to give a talk about the Greatest Person Ever. Look in detail at the notes you made for the talk and identify language features. Make a list of presentation tips as well.
Activity
Use a frame to prepare a talk about the Greatest Person Ever. Share talks with partners and then in a larger group. Talk together about the differences of opinion expressed and whether with this question, this causes any conflict.

Day 2 Teaching
Read The Steves by Morag Hood. Talk together about the book, identifying why a difference in opinion causes conflict in this context. Use this to introduce the idea of ‘stakeholders’, people who might be affected by questions of opinion.
Activity
Work with a partner to think about who might be affected by five different opinion questions. Write how they might be affected. Return to The Steves and discuss a list of advice about arguing effectively, identifying what the two puffins did and did not do.

Day 3 Teaching
Model using a frame to give a talk about banning something. Help children to be clear that this is a different type of opinion than on Day 1 as it will affect other people. Look in detail at the notes you made for the talk and use these to add to your list of language features.
Activity
Prepare a talk about banning something using a frame and referring to the class list of language features. Share talks with partners and then in a larger group. Find out about how laws and rules are made in your school or country.

Day 4 Teaching
Look together at the presentation of a debate in a copy of The Week Junior. Learn the language of pros/cons, advantages, disadvantages and for/against. Work together to make a list of pros and cons for a decision that could affect your class.
Activity
Read and sort cards with for/against points from The Week Junior. Sort these to their question and whether they are for or against. Summarise one set of points using very short notes. Practise making and using very short notes by playing the Silly Arguments game.

SPAG
Unit 2 SPaG: Adverbials for cohesion
(suggested as 3 days)

You Will Need

Presentation
Grammar Presentation: Adverbials for Cohesion

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read an argument about Detentions. Talk together about the issue and the points made in the argument. Look at six debate questions and introduce an argument preparation sheet that guides children to identify stakeholders, think of points and research useful facts.
Activity
Choose one side of one issue and work with a partner to complete the argument preparation sheet. Review other pros and cons and then select and order those to be used in the written argument.

Day 2 Teaching
Look at the use of adverbials of number on the ordering sheet from Day 1. Teach about these adverbials using the Presentation and practise using them together. Use the Presentation to teach about using adverbials of place, time and manner for cohesion.
Activity
Using a collection of adverbials, write sentences that could be included in the arguments that were planned on Day 1. Reread the writing about Detentions and identify some of its other positive features.

Day 3 Teaching
Read an article about CCTV. Note its positive features and in particular the adverbials that have been used to build cohesion.
Activity
Use preparation from Day 1 and Day 2 to write an argument on one side of one of the six issues. Include adverbials for cohesion and check for cohesion and ‘flow’ by reading completed writing aloud.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar Presentation: Adverbials for Cohesion

Look at devices for cohesion to help create a convincing argument. Learn how adverbials of place, time and manner can link sentences and paragraphs.

Comprehension
Unit 3 Spoken Language: Class Debate
(suggested as 4 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Contrast the argument in The Steves by Morag Hood with a short video clip of a debate at the UK Youth Parliament. Introduce a structure for Formal Debate and choose a debate topic, organising children into groups of three.
Activity
Work in groups to prepare for the debate, identifying stakeholders, pros/cons and researching to find useful facts. Share Pros and Cons and watch a video of part of a formal debate in action.

Day 2 Teaching
Look closely at the start of the argument in The Steves and use this to introduce the idea of rebuttals. Work with examples of rebuttals choosing the best to match given points.
Activity
Work in groups to prepare rebuttals for opposing points. Use a frame to create formal sentences to express these rebuttals. Talk together about the types of rebuttals that have been created.

Day 3 Teaching
Look at how points can be shared between two speakers and try out and evaluate phrases for conclusions.
Activity
Prepare for individual roles in the debate. Coordinate with the group to share points and make notes to prepare for the formal debate.

Day 4 Teaching
Organise the classroom for the formal debate, using this as a way to check children’s understandings of the structure and the different roles. Give time for the two teams to prepare and work through some formal phrases for contributions from the floor.
Activity
Hold your formal debate and then take a vote on the proposal. Announce the result and then ask children to reflect on the debate together.

SPAG
Unit 4 SPaG: Using commas to clarify meaning or avoid ambiguity
(suggested as 2 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read a newspaper article about a controversy about changes to school uniform. Use examples from the article to introduce the use of commas to separate additional phrases and clauses. Use a Presentation to teach this use of commas.
Activity
Practise using commas to separate additional clauses and phrases in arguments for and against school uniform. Discuss children’s ideas about these arguments.

Day 2 Teaching
Discuss three different examples of school uniform/dress codes. Use the descriptions of these uniforms to highlight the use of commas to separate items in a list. Use a Presentation to reinforce and practise this use of commas.
Activity
Design a uniform or dress code for your school. Describe it using sentences that have commas separating items in lists. Argue for your uniform or dress code using sentences that have commas separating additional phrases and clauses.

SPaG: Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar Presentation: Commas
Revise use of commas. Practise using commas to separate clauses or phrases and to separate items in a list.

Composition
Unit 5 Composition: Discussion writing
(suggested as 2 days)

Planning and Activities

Day 1 Teaching
Read and discuss It’s a Book by Lane Smith exploring children’s responses and its use of language. Read a New York Times book review and look closely at the illustration that the reviewer praises in particular. Generate words to describe the character in this illustration.
Activity
Use thesauruses to find synonyms for the words generated in the main teaching session. Use these words to make slogans for your school library, designing posters that can be displayed in the library. Read an article that suggests tablets should replace books.

Day 2 Teaching
Introduce the debate about replacing books with tablets. Read and discuss a discussion piece of writing about skateboards in school. Note and list some of its language features.
Activity
Use a discussion planning sheet to think about stakeholders and pros/cons for this debate. Use the internet or the library to research useful facts. Visit a website that lists pros and cons for various debates, reading and discussing its points about tablets replacing books.

Day 3 Teaching
Use the skateboard discussion to introduce a paragraph planner for a balanced debate. Share a list of discussion phrases and model how these could be included. Come back to the vocabulary generated on Day 1 and encourage its use in this writing.
Activity
Complete paragraph plans and then begin to draft discussions. Share writing with a partner and make suggestions about improvements. If you have used Unit 2, then look in particular for opportunities to include adverbials for cohesion.

Day 4 Teaching
Display and read a strong draft from Day 3, seeing what improvements could be made. Model proof-reading this writing, checking and correcting spelling and punctuation errors. Discuss presentation expectations for the final version of these discussions.
Activity
Complete drafts, working with a partner to make improvements and then proofread. Present writing in a final version before sharing with a new partner.