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Lesson Plan:

Debating the Death Penalty

Type: Assignment
Subjects: Social Studies, Political Science
Grades: Grades 11-12
Duration: 2 lessons
Purpose: To have students examine the issues surrounding the death penalty in Canada, to conduct a formal debate
Summary: Students will investigate the issues involved in the death penalty and conduct a formal debate.

Before Exploring

Ask the students to brainstorm and outline the elements of a formal debate. Ensure that all rules and procedures are covered. If the class has never debated, have them research the procedure for a formal debate.

Outline the Opportunity

Students will be preparing formal debates arguing both for and against the death penalty. Working in groups of four or five, students will gather information on the topic Death Penalty Debate on the CBC Digital Archives website. Students should take notes supporting both sides of the debate. They may search for information beyond the CBC Digital Archives website, but this must be done on their own time and they must cite all sources of information. Remind students that they must be able to argue both sides of the debate.

Once students have had sufficient time to prepare for the debates, organize a debating "tournament" where teams debate one another. Each student should have the opportunity to debate both for and against the death penalty.

Revisit and Reflect

Following the debates, hold a class discussion to debrief. Which arguments were persuasive and why? Was any argument persuasive enough to make you change your position? How did that feel? What challenges did you find in debating a position you do not personally share?


Students can write in their journals about how they would react if the death penalty was reintroduced in Canada.