Activity Introduction

Subjects: English.

Year Level: Years 3, 4, 5, & 6.

Topics: Debate, argument, research, persuasive language, judgement, point of views, facts.

Teaching Time: 60 minutes

Quick summary: In this lesson, students will learn how to think about their positions carefully, to research their and their opponent’s position thoroughly, and deliver their arguments with confidence.

21st-century skills: 

CommunicatingCreative ThinkingCritical ThinkingDigital LiteracyEmpathyProblem FindingProblem SolvingSocial SkillsTeam Work

Australian Curriculum Mapping

Content descriptions: 

Year 3 English:

  • Understand that successful cooperation with others depends on shared use of social conventions, including turn-taking patterns, and forms of address that vary according to the degree of formality in social situations (ACELA1476)
  • Examine how evaluative language can be varied to be more or less forceful (ACELA1477)
  • Listen to and contribute to conversations and discussions to share information and ideas and negotiate in collaborative situations (ACELY1676)
  • Use interaction skills, including active listening behaviours and communicate in a clear, coherent manner using a variety of everyday and learned vocabulary and appropriate tone, pace, pitch and volume (ACELY1792)
  • Plan and deliver short presentations, providing some key details in logical sequence (ACELY1677)

Year 4 English:

  • Understand that social interactions influence the way people engage with ideas and respond to others for example when exploring and clarifying the ideas of others, summarising their own views and reporting them to a larger group (ACELA1488)
  • Understand differences between the language of opinion and feeling and the language of factual reporting or recording (ACELA1489)
  • Investigate how quoted (direct) and reported (indirect) speech work in different types of text (ACELA1494)
  • Discuss literary experiences with others, sharing responses and expressing a point of view (ACELT1603)
  • Interpret ideas and information in spoken texts and listen for key points in order to carry out tasks and use information to share and extend ideas and information (ACELY1687)
  • Use interaction skills such as acknowledging another’s point of view and linking students’ response to the topic, using familiar and new vocabulary and a range of vocal effects such as tone, pace, pitch and volume to speak clearly and coherently (ACELY1688)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations incorporating learned content and taking into account the particular purposes and audiences (ACELY1689)

Year 5 English:

  • Understand how to move beyond making bare assertions and take account of differing perspectives and points of view (ACELA1502)
  • Present a point of view about particular literary texts using appropriate metalanguage, and reflecting on the viewpoints of others (ACELT1609)
  • Clarify understanding of content as it unfolds in formal and informal situations, connecting ideas to students’ own experiences and present and justify a point of view (ACELY1699)
  • Use interaction skills, for example paraphrasing, questioning and interpreting non-verbal cues and choose vocabulary and vocal effects appropriate for different audiences and purposes (ACELY1796)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations for defined audiences and purposes incorporating accurate and sequenced content and multimodal elements (ACELY1700)

Year 6 English:

  • Understand that strategies for interaction become more complex and demanding as levels of formality and social distance increase (ACELA1516)
  • Understand the uses of objective and subjective language and bias (ACELA1517)
  • Investigate how vocabulary choices, including evaluative language can express shades of meaning, feeling and opinion (ACELA1525)
  • Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions (ACELY1709)
  • Use interaction skills, varying conventions of spoken interactions such as voice volume, tone, pitch and pace, according to group size, formality of interaction and needs and expertise of the audience (ACELY1816)
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for defined audiences and purposes, making appropriate choices for modality and emphasis (ACELY1710)

Syllabus outcomes: EN3-1A, EN3-6B, EN3-5B, EN3-2A, EN3-8D, EN2-1A, EN2-6B, EN2-1A, EN2-11D, EN2-9B, EN2-7B, EN2-6B

General capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking.

Relevant parts of Year 3 English achievement standards: Students understand how content can be organised using different text structures depending on the purpose of the text. They listen to others’ views and respond appropriately using interaction skills. They understand how language can be used to express feelings and opinions on topics. 

Relevant parts of Year 4 English achievement standards: Students understand that texts have different text structures depending on purpose and context. They listen for and share key points in discussions. They understand how to express an opinion based on information in a text. Students create structured texts to explain ideas for different audiences. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, varying language according to context. 

Relevant parts of Year 5 English achievement standards: Students listen and ask questions to clarify content. They develop and explain a point of view about a text, selecting information, ideas and images from a range of resources. They make presentations which include multimodal elements for defined purposes. They contribute actively to class and group discussions, taking into account other perspectives.

Relevant parts of Year 6 English achievement standards: Students select and use evidence from a text to explain their response to it. They listen to discussions, clarifying content and challenging others’ ideas. They show how specific details can be used to support a point of view. hey make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, using a variety of strategies for effect.

Time required: 60 mins.

Level of teacher scaffolding: Medium – facilitate student workshop and class discussion, assist students in independent research

Resources required:

  • Four large sheets of paper labelled: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree
  • List of topic statements
  • Whiteboard.

Related Professional Development: This activity forms a part of the How to Teach Critical Thinking professional development course. If this is a skill you’d like to develop, consider signing up for the course.

Keywords: critical thinking, debate, argument, logic, presentation, speech, research

Cool Australia’s curriculum team continually reviews and refines our resources to be in line with changes to the Australian Curriculum.


Teacher Worksheet

Teacher Preparation

Learning intentions: Students will...

  • ... make convincing arguments based on evidence.

Success criteria: Students can…

  • ... use critical thinking skills to evaluate a situation
  • ... make judgements informed by researched evidence 
  • ... use persuasive language to convince an audience of a point of view
  • ... listen and respond to other people's point of view.

Teacher content information:

Critical thinking is at the core of most intellectual activity that involves students learning to recognise or develop an argument, use evidence in support of that argument, draw reasoned conclusions, and use information to solve problems. 

The purpose of these activities are to teach your students the importance of being able to back up their opinions with solid evidence. They will teach them to research their ideas, and to consider alternatives. A lot of people make claims based on personal beliefs and propaganda, and encouraging them to look into the facts is v

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