Debate It! | Ophea Teaching Tools

    Debate It!

    Activity Card 4
    75 Minutes
    Topics: Critical Thinking, Emotions, Peer Pressure, Personal Skills, Substance Use
    Activity Overview

    Youths will identify and describe the warning signs of substance use and misuse, addictions, and related behaviours and use communication skills while debating topics related to substance use.


    The educator observes youths' demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the impacts of substance use on a person’s well-being.


    Markers, Poster paper

    Minds On

    Explain to youth that today’s activity is all about debating different beliefs around substance use. Youth reflect on their own beliefs by individually, completing the following six statements either simply reflecting on their responses or writing it down:

    • Parties without alcohol are . . .
    • To me, the difference between drug use and drug abuse is . . .
    • Coming to school stoned is . . .
    • Hearing someone brag about drinking at a party is . . .
    • When my friends are smoking, I . . .
    • One thing I don’t believe about drugs is . . .

    Youths then form pairs and share their choice of three of their six responses.


    Divide the youths into four groups for two debates.

    For each debate, there will be two sides: one arguing for the perceived advantages of drug use, and the other arguing for the disadvantages of drug use.

    Debate #1: Consider Personal, Social, Performance at School/Work Reasons

    Debate #2: Consider Health/Physical/Mental, Financial, Legal Reasons

    Using information available through the classroom, in the library, and online, youths will prepare their arguments on their positions.

    The first debate will be presented while youths presenting the second debate listen. The group listening will make a decision about which side was most persuasive. A timekeeper can be assigned from the group that is listening.

    The educator will monitor information shared by the youths and provide guidance or support as required.

    Suggested debate structure:

    1. Introduction – 1 minute for each side
    2. Argument – 5 minutes each
    3. Rebuttal – 5 minutes each
    4. Conclusion – 1 minute each
    1. Working individually, youths reflect on both sides of the debate and select, providing a rationale, which side they believe to have been the most persuasive regarding the advantages and disadvantages of drug use.
    2. Youths write a short paragraph, monologue, or poem conveying the key messages as they understand them from the debate. Youths share their writing with a partner for review prior to sharing with a small group.