Sep 08
Join the Debate

Teresa Menzies 1.jpgMeet Teresa Menzies. She is the President of our Local #73 and our Union Officer. She is also a master teacher. I know, I was one of her students.

When she taught me my first CAE course, she introduced me to a technique called a Stand Up Debate.

It's a powerful and versatile tool that I use often in my classroom.

Here is how it works.

Teresa Menzies.jpgMake up two signs – one that says "Agree" and one that says "Disagree". Post each one on either side of the classroom. Then read a statement and ask students to "vote with their feet". For example, in Marketing, I may say something like: "Marketers create needs". If I was teaching a class on engines for the Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic program, I may say something like: "Oil filters should be filled prior to installation".* The best statements are those that have sound arguments on both sides.   

Once students have moved to one side of the classroom or the other, ask them why they voted in that way. If everybody happens to go to one side then be prepared to make the arguments for the other side.

There are many ways to use this technique.

  • Use it as an activation activity at the start of class to see what students already know about a particular subject.
  • Use it as an application activity by writing deeper statements.
  • Use it as a review activity at the end of class to see what students have learned.

Give it a try. Join the debate.


How do you make your classroom active? Leave a comment or contact us directly at or

* Special thanks to Murray Thiessen, Heavy Duty Equipment Mechanic Instructor, for giving me a relevant example from his trade.


This sounds like a great wa...

This sounds like a great way to engage students and get them talking in class. It is also simple and requires almost no preparation, so I can imagine using it spontaneously. These are the kinds of techniques that we can each to our "bag of teaching tricks". Thanks for the idea! Teresa is a great mentor to many of us.
Picture Placeholder: Gail Horvath
  • Gail Horvath
 on 9/8/2017 8:51 AM

I remember doing this activ...

I remember doing this activity at the great teachers Seminar a few years back and guess who led the activity...our friend Teresa! Hope everyone has had a smooth start to term.
Picture Placeholder: Bernadette Mandrick
  • Bernadette Mandrick
 on 9/8/2017 9:29 AM

This would work well to rev...

This would work well to review a unit, chapter, or even for a test prep.  Depending on the course it could also be used to introduce a new topic that the students already believe they know very well.  Has anyone tried it with a larger class?  Say maybe 30 students?
Picture Placeholder: Maria Vincenten
  • Maria Vincenten
 on 9/11/2017 8:24 AM

Hi Maria, I love your sugge...

Hi Maria, I love your suggestion about how to use this technique. Re: your question - I've tried it with a larger class. Personally, I found it more effective to ask deep, applied statements to a bigger class. That gave me the opportunity to spend more time asking questions about why students voted in a particular way. If the statements are too simple, then all the movement takes a lot of valuable time for a larger class. Thanks for sharing a question!
Picture Placeholder: Janine Carmichael
  • Janine Carmichael
 on 9/12/2017 12:05 PM