Run a silent debate on energy

An opportunity for pupils to consider and debate issues around energy use and production

10 KS3 KS4 Citizenship English Geography
A silent debate allows students to explore an idea in depth. It's an excellent way to ensure that everyone in the class has a chance to contribute to a topic. 

In the silent debate, your pupils write out their responses to a stimulus, in this case a statement (quotes, questions or images can also be effective).  Having time to think and responding only by writing slows down their thinking and helps them focus on the view of others.  

See below for information on how to run a silent debate.

  • It should be a priority of governments to move from non-renewable to renewable energy sources 
  • People have a right to use as much energy as they want
  • We have all the energy solutions we need
  • Nuclear power is essential to reduce dependence on fossil fuels
  • Drastically reducing our energy consumption is enough to stop climate change
  • Countries should produce their own energy
  • Energy for heating and cooking is a Human Right and should be free for everyone

You will need:
A1/2 sheets of sugar paper
A marker per individual
The stimulus already written onto each sheet of paper
Pupils in groups

1. In silence, each pupil reads the statement on their groups big paper.  After they read it, they are to write their comment or question on the big paper.  They can respond to each other's comments and questions by writing, in silence.  The written conversation must respond to the stimulus but the discussion can stray to where the pupils take it.  More than one pupil can write on the paper at one time and they can draw lines linking ideas and questions and answers.  This step should be 10-15 minutes.

2. Still in silence, pupils leave their groups and walk around reading etc stimuli and responses on other big papers.  They can write comments, answers or further questions for thought on other big papers.  Depending on your group of pupils and their responses you can make this step last as long as is necessary.

3. Pupils return to their own big paper and initial stimulus.  Now they can discuss out loud the cdiscussion in front of them, their own comments and the responses form other pupils. 

4. Discuss as a class.  You may want to focus on individual statements or ask what pupils learned from the activity.  This time can be used to further delve into the pupils' responses to certain topics.  You may want to encourage pupils to reflect on the process in their journals or to identify and expand upon a stimulus or discussion that really engaged them.