Discussion Writing With a Line Debate


When students write discussions, they often struggle to understand one side (not theirs) of an issue. This lesson allows them to understand the multiple points of view that an issue may have and enables them to create more powerful and rich discussions.

Australian Curriculum Links:

  • Year 5 – 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)
  • Year 5 – 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)
  • Year 5 – Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive print and multimodal texts, choosing text structureslanguage features, images and sound appropriate to purpose and audience (ACELY1704)
  • Year 6 – Participate in and contribute to discussions, clarifying and interrogating ideas, developing and supporting arguments, sharing and evaluating information, experiences and opinions(ACELY1709)
  • Year 6 – Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, choosing and experimenting withtext structureslanguage features, images and digital resources appropriate to purpose andaudience (ACELY1714)
  • Year 7 – Identify and discuss main ideas, concepts andpoints of view in spoken texts to evaluate qualities, for example the strength of an argument or the lyrical power of a poetic rendition (ACELY1719)
  • Year 7 – Use interaction skills when discussing and presenting ideas and information, selecting body language, voice qualities and other elements, (for example music and sound) to add interest and meaning (ACELY1804)
  • Year 7 – Plan, draft and publish imaginative, informative and persuasive texts, selecting aspects of subject matter and particular language, visual, and audio features to convey information and ideas (ACELY1725)

Lesson Outline:


Explain to students that we are going to write a discussion piece, but before we do, we need to clarify a few things first and do a short activity:

  1. Ask students, ‘What is an issue?’ Take on all comments and see if you can create your own definition of the term ‘issue’ (Should go along the lines of an idea/event where people can have 2 differing opinions…).
  2. Pose questions/statements to get children to see what is, and is not, an issue (E.g. Children should drive cars at 14 years of age)
  3. Once you have the definition, create a line debate by asking the children to arrange themselves in order from the earliest to bed last night, to the latest to bed (This is great because everyone can get involved and it’s interesting to see who goes where).
  4. Cut the line in half and explain to the children that you are going to have a debate and this type of debate is called a ‘Line Debate’. Explain that a line debate helps us to think about differing opinions and the reasons why an issue becomes an issue.
  5. Explain the following rules:
    1. If you have something to say, you place your hand up.
    2. If you call out, you will be moved to the opposite team (deliberate offenders will have separate consequences of course)
    3. If you have a valid point (as deemed by the adjudicator), then you may choose someone to come over to your side (from the opposing line).
    4. If you start a statement with ‘UM, ER, AH’ you will automatically be moved to the other team.
    5. The winning team is the team with the most people on it at the end (usually about 10-15 minutes).
    6. One side will be the affirmative (agree) with the statement, while the other will be the negative (disagree) with the statement that gets posed.
    7. We will have a recorder to record down the arguments that are put forth by teams by listing down the arguments in a T-Chart (See resources)
    8. Toss a coin to see who gets what side and begin the debate by posing a statement like ‘Homework should be banned’
You can also create your own rules with the children.


  1. When the children have finished hold up the T-Chart and  revisit what arguments were put forward.
  2. Now ask what they think the purpose of that task was. (Look at opinions, arguments behind issues, etc)
  3. Then tell the students that they have just taken part in a discussion and now we can actually write a discussion.
  4. Visit http://www.writingfun.com/ (need a membership) And pull apart the discussion pieces.
  5. Discuss what the purpose of a discussion writing piece might be (make an informed choice…?) and where you might see them in real-life (Opinion section in newspapers).
  6. Create a ‘If we were to write a perfect discussion piece…’ success criteria with the children by asking them what it should include (Stating why an issue is an issue, equal amount of arguments, third person, etc)
  7. Once the criteria is set, have children use the arguments in the T-chart to create their discussion piece.


  1.  Using the success criteria that was set, have children assess how they performed in the task.
  2. Share samples of work by taking a photo of it and asking children the following questions:
    1. What has ____________ (Name) done really well in this writing piece?
    2. If there was something that ________________ (Name) could improve, what would it be?
  3. Always ask for more positive feedback than negative criticism.


  • Self assessment (success criteria)
  • Writing Samples
  • Discussion points in Line Debate (checklist)



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