Fifth-graders at Van Buren Elementary School recently formed a school debate team.
Ten to 15 students meet every Friday in the school library during their activity period to choose a debate topic. They split into two teams. One team argues for the topic, and the other team argues against it. After researching the topic, the teams conduct their debates the following Friday. Debates are supervised and scored by school library media specialist Vicki Cartner.
Cartner judges each team based on teamwork, persuasiveness, organization and how well team members support their argument with facts. Topics the fifth-graders have debated include readers vs. books, should fifth-graders be allowed to have cell phones in school, and should schools prohibit students with severe allergies from attending school.
Cartner said students are learning the qualities of good teamwork, how to be diplomatic and the importance of respecting the opinions of others. Students are also honing their ELA and library skills.