Connected Classrooms: Virtual Debate
We're inviting middle school educators to help us improve ThinkalongTM by beta testing the new virtual debate feature, “Connected Classrooms.”
This feature enables students to exchange ideas and practice their debate skills with peers from other schools or geographic areas without the need to physically travel. With minimal technical resources, debates can be held through a safe, private online video-conference forum. Debates are planned to take the time of one typical 45-minute classroom period.
The “Connected Classroom” feature can help students to appreciate the diversity of people whose perspectives and motivations may be influenced by differing life experiences. Through the framework of a ThinkalongTM debate, students are tasked with practicing mutual respect and civil discourse using a shared set of facts. We believe in the potential for these debates — not just to demonstrate differences — but to encourage empathy and understanding as students of diverse backgrounds and geographic settings discover where they share common ground.
How to do a virtual debate
First, you’ll need the following technical setup in your classroom or space:
- Bandwidth able to carry a video stream of 300kbps (minimum) and an audio stream of 50 kbps (minimum)
- An open internet channel that will not be blocked by a firewall or spam filters.
- A computer with a modern web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox).
- A computer equipped with a camera and microphone, or a camera and mic setup that is connected to your computer.
Begin by signing up for an online debate using the big purple button below. We just need your name, role, grade level, the topic(s) you’d like to debate and the preferred time frame for scheduling. You may select optional topics to make it easier for us to match your class with another classroom seeking a debate opponent. After signing up, a ThinkalongTM team member will contact you to schedule the Connected Classroom debate.
After coordinating with both teachers, a ThinkalongTM team member will send a password-protected link to all participants. On the day of debate, participants can join the private video conference.
The host introduces the topic and flips a coin to assign sides. Suggestion: teachers should review ThinkalongTM modules with students beforehand.
When the speakers have finished, the judge uses the ThinkalongTM rubric to deliver their decision. To keep the debate fair, only the resources on the ThinkalongTM module are allowed during the debate.
After the debate concludes, the videos are made available to teachers.
Sign up now to connect your classroom
Find a topic you want to discuss with your students and get ready for a debate!