Resources › For Educators The Best Interactive Debate Websites for Students and Teachers Share Flipboard Email Print Hero Images/Getty Images For Educators Secondary Education Lesson Plans Grading Students for Assessment Becoming A Teacher Assessments & Tests Elementary Education Special Education Teaching Homeschooling By Colette Bennett Education Expert M.A., English, Western Connecticut State University B.S., Education, Southern Connecticut State University Colette Bennett is a certified literacy specialist and curriculum coordinator with more than 20 years of classroom experience. our editorial process Colette Bennett Updated July 11, 2019 Perhaps the best way to have students prepare for debate is to have students see how others debate on a variety of current topics. Here are five interactive websites that can help educators and students learn how to select topics, how to construct arguments, and how to evaluate the quality of arguments that others are making. Each of the following websites offers an interactive platform for students to participate in the practice of debate. 01 of 05 The International Debate Education Association (IDEA) The International Debate Education Association (IDEA) is a "global network of organizations that value debate as a way to give young people a voice." The"about us" page states: IDEA is the world's leading provider of debate education, providing resources, training and events to educators and young people. The site offers the top 100 Topics for Debate and ranks them according to total view. Each topic also provides the voting results before and after debate, as well as a bibliography for people who may want to read the research used for each debate. Some popular topics have been as follows: Single-sex schools are good for educationBan animal testingReality television does more harm than goodSupports the death penaltyBan homework This site also provides a set of 14 Teaching Tools with strategies to help teachers become familiar with the practice of debate in the classroom. The strategies included can help educators with activities based on topics such as: Introductory ExercisesArgument Construction Rebuttal Style and DeliveryJudging IDEA believes that: "debate promotes mutual understanding and informed citizenship around the world and that its work with young people leads to increased critical thinking and tolerance, enhanced cultural exchange and greater academic excellence." 02 of 05 Debate.org Debate.org is an interactive site where students can participate. The"about us" page states: Debate.org is a free online community where intelligent minds from around the world come to debate online and read the opinions of others. Research today’s most controversial debate topics and cast your vote on our opinion polls. Debate.org offers information about the current "Big Issues" where students and educators can "investigate today’s most controversial debate topics covering society’s biggest issues in politics, religion, education and more. Gain balanced, non-biased insight into each issue and review the breakdown of pro-con stances within our community." This website also offers students the opportunity to see the differences between debates, forums, and polls. The site is free to join and provides all members a breakdown of membership by demographics including age, gender, religion, political party, ethnicity, and education. 03 of 05 Pro/Con.org Pro/Con.org is a nonprofit nonpartisan public charity with the tagline, "The Leading Source for Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues." The About page on their website states that they provide: "...professionally-researched pro, con, and related information on more than 50 controversial issues from gun control and death penalty to illegal immigration and alternative energy. Using the fair, FREE, and unbiased resources at ProCon.org, millions of people each year learn new facts, think critically about both sides of important issues, and strengthen their minds and opinions." There have been an estimated 1.4 million users on the site from its inception in 2004 through 2015. There is a teacher's corner page with resources including: Common Core compliant lesson plan ideas A database of how educators in all 50 US states and 87 countries use ProCon.org.The video “Critical Thinking Explained” Materials on the website can be reproduced for classes and educators are encouraged to link students to the information "because it helps to advance our mission of promoting critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship." 04 of 05 Create Debate If a teacher is thinking of having students try to set-up and participate in an online debate, CreateDebate might be the site to use. This website could allow students to involve both their classmates and others in an authentic discussion on a controversial issue. One reason to allow student access to the site is that there are tools for the creator (student) of the debate to moderate any debate discussion. Teachers have the ability to act as a moderator and authorize or delete inappropriate content. This is particularly important if the debate is open to others outside the school community. CreateDebate is 100% free to join and teachers can create an account to see how they could use this tool as debate preparation: "CreateDebate is a new social networking community built around ideas, discussion and democracy. We’ve done our best to provide our community with a framework that makes compelling and meaningful debates easy to create and fun to use." Some of the more interesting debates on this site have been: Is free will an illusion?Are we all one human race?Was Appeasement the right policy for Britain in 1938?If there was a real-life superhero vigilante like Daredevil etc. can they be ethical?Has Martin Luther King's dream been fulfilled? Finally, teachers could also use the CreateDebate site as a pre-writing tool for students who have been assigned persuasive essays. Students can use the responses they receive as part of their action research on a topic. 05 of 05 New York Times Learning Network: Room for Debate In 2011, The New York Times began publishing a blog titled "The Learning Network" that could be accessed free by educators, students, and parents: "To honor The Times’s longstanding commitment to educators and students, this blog and all its posts, as well as all Times articles linked from them will be accessible without a digital subscription." One feature on "The Learning Network" is dedicated to debate and argumentative writing. Here educators can find lesson plans created by teachers that have incorporated debate in their classrooms. Teachers have used debate as a springboard for argumentative writing. In one of these lesson plans, "students read and analyze the opinions expressed in the Room for Debate series...they also write their own editorials and format them as a group to look like the actual 'Room for Debate' posts." There are also links to the site, Room to Debate. The "about us" page states: "In Room for Debate, The Times invites knowledgeable outside contributors to discuss news events and other timely issues." The Learning Network also provides graphic organizers educators can use.