Debating-Speeches-Oral Presentations


I love teaching  debating, speeches and oral presentations. It really prepares the students for the oral presentations and to write speeches for the functional writing section on paper 1 of the English Junior Cert. It helps the students to foster their creativity, confidence, vocabulary, grammar, communication skills, organisational skills and to think critically.

As my school is ASTI, I have not been able to go to any of the English Junior Cycle induction days.  However, I have self-taught myself using a range of websites. English in the Junior Cycle aims to expand a students’ knowledge of language and literature, deepen their literacy skills and make them more self-aware as learners, creativity and teach them to think critically. Debating, speeches and oral presentations help students to foster ‘control over English using it and responding to it with purpose and effect through the interconnected literacy skills of oral language, reading and writing’.

The six Key Skills of the Junior Cycle are evident in debating, speeches and oral presentations. You must be creative as debating demands you to think on your feet. Debating develops literacy as you are practicing oral presentations and you are using a solid vocabulary. You are being numerate as you are keeping track of time. You are communicating with others and also working with others as you must communicate with your team members to prepare a good argument and then debate against members of the opposition or by delivering a speech/oral presentation in front of your peers. ‘The English classroom is a place of talk and discussion. Students enjoy frequent opportunities to debate, to adopt a point of view and defend it. They learn to communicate by writing in a range of forms and for many purposes.’ [1] You are managing information and thinking as you must structure your argument.  You are staying well as you are communicating with others and by participating in an oral presentation, you are growing in confidence.

There are many activities you can do for these topics!

  1. Walking debate

Students no matter what age love this activity. Write ‘Strongly agree’, ‘Agree’, ‘Strongly disagree’ and ‘Disagree’ on different sheets of paper. Stick the sheets of paper on different sides of the room.  Get all the students to stand up. Now call out statements and tell the students to go and stand beside the poster that portrays their view.  Give the students a minute to decide where they are going. Once the students are in front of their chosen statement. Ask a number of students why they have picked that statement.

  1. Traffic light debate

This works the same as the walking debate above except you must put the colours red, green and orange on different walls in the classroom.  You must explain to the students that green means agree, orange means neutral and red means disagree. Like the walking debate, you call out statements and the students stand beside the colour which matches their opinion.

  1. Statements

You write a statement on the whiteboard and then you ask the students to agree or disagree with this statement and to write down 5 reasons to back up their point. This is a really good exercise as it helps the students to develop opinions and also to develop reasons thus meaning they fully understand why they agree or why they do not agree with a given statement. It is a great starter exercise to prepare the students for debating.

  1. Class debating



Make two groups of 4 students each. Pick  a chairperson, three adjudicators and one timekeeper.  The rest of the class will be the audience. Rotate this daily so each student gets a turn. Write a statement on the whiteboard such as ‘Should all schools be single sex?’. Tell each group to decide who in their group is going to go:

1st– Introduction

2nd- Middle

3rd. Middle


Each speaker in the group will speak for 2 minutes each which means that each group will speak for 8 minutes.

The adjudicator will control the meeting. The timekeeper will time the students. They must make the students aware of the first 30 minutes and the last 30 seconds.



  1. School debating competition

You can either invite other schools to come into your school and thus have a debating competition with one school or many schools. Get the students to help you organise it, this will improve their communication and organisational skills.

6. Speeches


Tell the students that each of them must write a speech and present it in front of the class. Topics can be

  • ‘Imagine you are the new principal of your school, write your first speech welcoming everyone and outlining what your leadership will be like.
  • ‘Imagine you are the running for class president, write a speech outlining what you will implement if you win.
  • ‘Imagine you are a second year student who has been chosen to give advice to 1styear pupils about how to survive 1st Write the speech you would give the first years.
  • ‘Imagine you are setting up a new extracurricular activity in school. Write the speech you would give to the students in your school to encourage them to join’.
  • ‘You want a half day on Wednesdays at school, write the speech you would give to encourage your principal to implement this change’.
  • ‘We should be allowed wear whatever we want.’ (Caityn Jenner and the transgender community are topical news stories).

  • ‘The importance of school uniforms for equality’.




  1. Grammar 



Split the students into groups and give each group an envelope of statements. In each envelope there will be 15 statements.  I will give each group 2 boxes. The 1stbox will say ‘Debating statements’ and the second box will say ‘Grammar errors’.

The students must work together in their group and decide what box each statement goes in. This is a really good activity to test the students’ grammar. Some of the statements will feature slang as I want the students to learn that they must not use slang. The Junior Cycle aims ‘to gain an understanding of the grammar and conventions of English and how they might be used to promote clear and effective communication’.





8. Oral presentations

Do this one day a week so the students will have a routine. For example every Friday. Each week give the students a topic to research, write about and then present in front of their class. Sample topics are my favourite animal, my favourite hobby, an inspirational person, a book review, a film review, a music album review, my favourite singer, my favourite band, my favourite sports team, my favourite celebrity, a great charity, a news story from a newspaper, why it is good to live in Ireland, what it means to be Irish, a student presents on country of their choice, its culture and literature and the stereotypes we need to cast off to truly understand the country, the students conduct interviews on others, the benefits of using technology in education and the student writes their own poem and presents it to the class.


9. Unseen pictures

Split the students into groups. Using unseen pictures, each group will argue a point. Each group must use each picture, thinking of a way it can support their argument.

[1] file:///C:/Users/lisa-_000/Downloads/JCEnglish-Spec_Oct-4_2015-(1)_2.pdf





Debating power point Introduction- Debating power point 1

Debating power point 2–Debating power point two

Agree/Disagree/Strongly Agree/Strongly Disagree statements for walking debate–Agree disagree strongly agree strongly disagree statements for walls

Debating worksheet– Debating for or against template

Debating topics handout–Debating topics

Debating motions handout- Motions

Ship debate handout– Ship Debate

Speech tips handouts–SPEECHES tips

Scoring sheet for a debate–Debate scoring sheet

Speech planning sheet-Planning Sheet for speeches

Persuasive speech worksheet–Planning Speech Persuasive Speeches

Biography power point–Writing a Biography power point.

Glossary handout for inspirational person oral presentation- Glossary for inspirational person oral presentation.

Differences between a autobiography and biography handout- Differences between a biography and an autobiography.

Biography sheet for inspirational person oral presentation–Inspirational person handout

Biography features handout for oral presentation- Features of biography.

Biography template for oral presentation- Biography template

Roald Dahl oral presentation example– A Biography of Roald Dahl

Book review oral presentation–Book review

Film review for oral presentation–Writing_a_Film_Review


Junior Certificate RE: Section D: Sundays in the past

Here are some lesson ideas for teaching Sunday’s in the past!

Phase 1: Introduction

I will greet the class. I will take the class roll call.
I will introduce the lesson topic of ‘Religion in the past’ to the students.
I will state my learning objectives for this class.
I will review what I have taught the students in the last two classes.
-Religious belief
-Religious practice
I will give the students the homework task of a questionnaire. The students will ask their parents about their religious experience when they were younger.
Phase 2: Think-Pair-Share-Worksheet-What do you do on Sundays now?
I will ask the students to think about ‘What do you do on Sundays now?’.
I will give the students a worksheet and I ask the students to write down what
they do on Sunday’s now and what they think their parents did on Sunday’s years ago.
I will give the students four minutes for this task.
After the time is up, I will ask a number of students for their answers and I
will discuss the pupils’ answers with the class.
Phase 3: ‘A Question of Faith’ Textbook page 174- Lower and higher order questions
I will ask the students to open their textbooks on page one hundred and
seventy four. I will ask a number of pupils to read.
I will use the technique of popcorn reading where the students do not know
who I will ask to read next. This makes sure that the students are fully
engaged with the text at all times. I will then ask the students higher and lower order
questions about the content of the text.
Lower order questions:
Reena had statues of whom in her house when she was
younger? (Our Lady
and Joseph)
What would the whole family do after dinner? (The whole family would kneel
in the front room while we said the rosary)
What did Reena do every Saturday? (Went to confession)
What does Reena say one of the most important changes for her was? (Return
to scripture)
Higher order questions:
Why do you think Reena thinks the changes that came
because of Vatican II are positive changes?
Why do you think some of these changes were difficult for older people?
What do you think about the changes Vatican II made?
Would you have liked to have grown up in Reena’s time?
Phase 4: Handout on ‘The Station’- Group work: Worksheet on ‘The Station’. 
I will give the students a handout which will discuss the stations in 1940s/1950s Ireland.
I will ask a number of pupils to read the handout.
I will then give the students a worksheet which will assess the students learning of the handout on ‘The Station’.
The students will get four minutes for this task.
I will then collect the worksheets for correction.
Handout – Stations handout
Phase 5: Conclusion 
I will sum up what I have taught the students in class today.
I will thank the students for their co-operation in today’s class.
I will remind the students of the homework task which I set at the beginning
of today’s class.
I will tell the students that I look forward to working with them tomorrow.

Lesson 2

In the next lesson, I put the students into groups.
I gave each group a sheet of paper and I asked each group to think of 2 questions that they would ask an older person about what how they spent Sundays when they were young.
I will give the students 5 minutes for this task.
After the time is up, I will ask each group for their questions. I will make sure that each group has different questions. By getting the students to come up with their own questions, I am really involving the students. By developing their own questions the students will be really interested in the lesson!
Then I will invite my guest speaker in.(In the past I invited my Deputy Principal in as a guest speaker).
Each group will then ask the guest speaker their questions.

The students really enjoyed this lesson and they all evaluated that they learnt a lot from it. More than they would have learnt from a textbook!

Rap is poetry.

Poetry is a type of literature, or artistic writing, that attempts to stir a reader’s imagination or emotions.

Poetry appears in many forms and styles.  This makes it difficult to define exactly.

One thing that makes poems different from other types of writing is their structure. The words of a poem are arranged in lines and groups of lines, called stanzas.

When a rap artist writes a song,  the sentence he writes are called ‘bars’ in the music industry.

Famous rappers are Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake, Nikki Minaj, Big Sean, Iggy Azalea, Eminem and Macklemore.

rap is poetry

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At the start of this lesson, you should brainstorm rap using a spiderweb diagram on the whiteboard or else by using a brainstorm handout. 


What do you think of when you hear the word rap? Do you ever think of… poetry? The two really are not that different. As a poet you need to be able to incorporate rhythm and flow into your pieces to make it sound appealing. Rap does the same thing. Poets often try to give their poetry visual elements by using figurative language (for example metaphors). The challenge with rap is making the piece appeal to the ear while conveying your message quickly, and keeping rhythm. Get started writing your very own rap, and who knows — you may be the next Eminem or Drake or Nicki Minaj!

  1. Brainstorm. Choose your topic and let your imagination run wild. To get started, many artists freestyle for a bit and write down every thought, idea, and emotion that comes to mind. Use this as your inspiration.
  2. Create a hook. The basic layout for a rap is intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus, outro. Many rappers start writing the hook (chorus) first. The hook captures the theme of the rap, and conveys its message to the audience. Rappers and lyricists in general start with this because the chorus is what people remember and take from a rap. It sets the rhythm and flow, and inspires what is said throughout the rap.
  3. Write lyrics. Use the brainstorming you did along with your chorus as a guide for what you are writing about and to build onto your ideas. Keep in mind that you have to maintain a rhythm since rap is music as well as poetry, and both follow a beat. Some lyricists listen to a beat as they write to help keep their rhythm.
  4. Be personal. Don’t lie in your raps about who you are, but to get your point across, you might want to use use hyperbole (exaggerating to the extreme). Typically, lines rhyme in a rap, but the words don’t have to match exactly–it all depends on how you say them . Always keep your message and audience in mind.
  5. Organize. Once you have an idea of what you want to say, organize your ideas. Break them up into verses while you keep in mind the layout for most basic raps:
  6. Memorize. Being able to recite your words from memory allows you to keep the flow and rhythm of it. So practice, practice, practice! Read and reread your piece until you’re sick of it. Play around with the tempo to see what sounds better with your style. Don’t be discouraged if you trip up on your words.
  7. Rap and share. With the rhythm down and the words engraved into your memory, you’re ready to rap. Record yourself rapping in front of a crowd or even alone in your room and share it on the site along with the lyrics! Let your voice be heard, and get going on your next masterpiece.     

Here are some video clips about how rap is poetry. 

Jay Z- Rap is poetry.


An English teacher who rap battles with students.

Rap Poetry Class At Charter Oak Cultural Center.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar Visits Mr. Mooney’s Class.

Teacher’s Inspiring Classroom Rap Goes Viral.

A talk by Ted Talks- Hip-Hop & Shakespeare? Akala at TEDxAldeburgh.

Poems about rap. You can read the best rap poems. Browse through all rap poems.

What part will you play in standing up to bullying?

This is a video clip from Britain’s got Talent (2014). Two young boys called Bars and Melody perform a rap about bullying. One of the young boys wrote the rap using his personal experience. All the judges were every impressed and they even won Simon Cowell’s golden buzzer.  Bars & Melody combine cuteness and originality, charming the judges and the audience with their skills. The pupils love this video clip as it is a topic they can relate too and also the boys are around the same age as your students. 

If you are using this video clip, at the start of the lesson you should define the term bullying.

Define bullying

At the start of this lesson, you should define the term bullying to the students.

Spunout defines bullying as the on-going abuse of another person through physical or mental torture. To make matters worse this torture is often conducted in the presence of others. The humiliation felt by the victim is hard to understand if you have never been bullied. If it happens over a long period of time it can have devastating effects on a young person’s mental health.

Explain bullying to the students. 

You should then explain bullying to the students. Either give the students facts about bullying using a handout or power point or else split the students into groups and get the groups to look up facts about bullying. This group work activity would improve the students digital literacy and enhance their communication skills as they have to work together to complete the task. I recently wrote a blog post about bullying.

Classroom activity- Group work- Write your own rap about bullying. 

Tell the students that they are now going to write their own rap song about poetry.

Split the students into groups.

Give each group coloured paper and a pen.

Tell the students that they have 8 minutes to complete this task.

Use a countdown timer to time the students. This motivates the students and also lets them know how much time they have left. You can use this one here –

Each group will then perform their group’s rap in-front of the class.

We will have a class discussion about each group’s work.

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During National Anti-Bullying Week 2014 the Diana Award’s Anti-Bullying Ambassadors programme brought together over 800 young people and staff from across the north and south of England to celebrate National Anti-Bullying Week with Bars and Melody. The events were held at the Blackpool Winter Gardens & the Emirates Stadium. Bars and Melody lead a music workshop for their Anti-Bullying Ambassadors by teaching them how express themselves through music.

Ireland Showcase 2015 – Bars and Melody’s Speech.


English- creative writing- Character boxes

Today I want to post a lesson that I have used a number of times in schools. It is called Character boxes. I have used this lesson a number of times over the years. Each time it worked brilliantly. All of the student’s loved it. This lesson is great for developing the students’ essay writing skills and also developing their creativity/imagination. The characters need to think creatively to develop a character using the five images on their handout. The students’ find this lesson fun too! I first tested this out on my 12 year old cousin, and her first response when I told her what the task was ‘cool’!. My best advice when using this lesson is know your class well etc.. what they like and then you can pick you can the most suitable images for your class. However, if you do not know your class well, five random images work just as well.

I am not posting my full lesson plan here as I write really long lesson plans (3-5) pages long each but I will post a general gist of my lesson plan.

What do you need for this task? Coloured paper and handout with five random images each. 

Lesson objectives

  1. The pupils will be able to define the term character.
  2. The students will be able to portray their ability to develop a character.
  3. The students will be able to develop their creativity skills.

Assessment of Learning outcomes

  1. The pupils will be able to define the term character as they will think pair share the definition of character
  2. The students will portray their ability to develop a character by working in groups and developing a character.
  3. The students will develop their creativity skills by using their imagination and creating a  character.

Phase 1.

Greet the pupils.

Take a roll call.

Review what was learnt in the last lesson.

Phase 2. Think-Pair-Share

I will put the students into pairs.

I will ask the students ‘What is a character?’.

I will ask a number of pairs for their answers.

I will discuss the students’ answers with the class.

Phase 3:Group work: Five random images to develop a character

I will ask the students to develop a character by using five random images.

I will then put the students into groups.

I will give each group a handout with five random images.

I will ask the students to work together in their groups and use their group’s five random images to develop a character.

Phase 4: Coloured card: Draw and write about your group’s made up character

I will give each group a coloured card.

I will ask the groups to work together and use their group’s five random images on their handout.

I will tell the students to draw their character and write about their character on their group’s coloured card.

I will tell the groups they have eight minutes for this task.

I will use a countdown timer to motivate the students and let the students know how much time they have left.

After the time is up, each group will present their work to the class.

We will have a class discussion about each group’s work.

Phase 5: Wrap things up. Give homework and end the class well.

Character boxes

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 Character boxes


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 Character boxes example


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