Hey, I’m Asmina. Thanks for joining the Smart arguments debate. Your role in this debate is to prepare one of the speeches.

But first, the debate topic ... every debate must have one! Review the suggested topics for the Smart arguments debate.

My friend Jack and I decided on the topic, ‘that smartphones are sustainable’. Why this topic? Well, best to check out our text messages. View Transcript of text messages.

Complete the Smartphone costs quiz. Alternative: Smartphone costs quiz (.pdf 124kB)

Explore arguments for and against the topic, ‘that smart phones are sustainable’. These links about mobile phones and sustainability will help get you started. Do you agree or disagree ‘that smart phones are sustainable’?

What’s a debate?

Asmina and Jack having an angry argument with finger pointing. A 'banned' symbol is superimposed.

‘Engaging in a debate’ doesn’t mean having a fight or being mad at someone. In fact, debating has strict rules about conduct and arguing techniques.

Sometimes you may even have to argue a side that you don’t personally agree with, like poor Jack! He has to argue against the topic, ‘that smartphones are sustainable.’

Learn about debating basics.

Check your understanding in The big debate quiz. Alternative: The big debate quiz (.pdf 99kB)

Decide which side an argument supports in the Affirmative or negative? quiz. Alternative: Affirmative or negative? quiz (.pdf 104kB)

Structure of a debate speech

debating teams affirmative and negative

Debating is a team activity, right? Check out the tasks of each member. The tasks are determined by the member’s allocated role as first, second or third speaker for the team.

The first speaker affirmative:

  • outlines the team’s interpretation of the topic

  • identifies the issues to be discussed

  • presents the team structure

  • presents arguments allocated to the first speaker.

Listen to Asmina’s first speaker affirmative speech.

Read the transcript of Asmina’s first speaker affirmative speech (.pdf 91kB).

The first speaker negative:

  • identifies major areas of initial disagreement with the affirmative case

  • explains disagreements with the affirmative side’s definition, if there are any

  • rebuts the major arguments of the affirmative side

  • presents the team structure

  • presents arguments allocated to the first speaker.

Listen to Jack’s first speaker negative speech.

Read the transcript of Jack’s first speaker negative speech (.pdf 94kB).

The second speaker (both for the affirmative and negative):

  • identifies the major areas of disagreement with the other team

  • outlines definitions still in contention

  • rebuts major arguments

  • defends the team’s case against rebuttal by previous speaker(s)

  • presents arguments allocated to the second speaker.

The third speaker (both for the affirmative and negative):

  • presents an overview of the debate

  • identifies the essential issues upon which the teams disagree

  • rebuts the important aspects of the opposing team’s case

  • defends the team’s case against attack.

Review the Template for debate speeches (.pdf 132kB).

Complete the activities: Structure of Asmina's speech and Structure of Jack's speech. Alternatives: Structure of Asmina’s speech (.pdf 115kB), Structure of Jack’s speech (.pdf 121kB)

Persuasive devices


Now that you’ve heard the arguments of the first speaker from each side of the debate, are you swayed by one speech more than the other? Are smartphones good or bad for your wallet and the earth?

In a debate, speakers use various devices (the non-electronic ones!) to persuade people to their point of view. Learning to use persuasive devices will help you to make your speech as convincing as possible. They will also assist you throughout life—helping you to think and act for yourself as well as maybe win others to your point of view.

Read about persuasive devices and then test your knowledge in the Persuasive devices quiz. Alternative: Persuasive devices quiz (.pdf 153kB)

Learn more in Language features and structure of an exposition (.pdf 150kB).

Discover what goes into a winning argument in the checklist for an exposition task (.docx 41kB).

Bringing it all together

Asmina's affirmative team and Jack's nifty negatives team

Let’s put your learning into practice.

Join either Asmina’s Ace Affirmatives or Jack’s Nifty Negatives and write a speech for the second speaker of the team. Points to consider and research:


In working through this resource, you have:

  • heard some of the arguments for and against smartphones

  • investigated the consumer and financial implications of owning a mobile phone

  • been introduced to debating terms and learnt about the structure of a debate

  • learnt about the duties of each speaker and how they structure their speeches

  • understood the purpose and use of persuasive devices

  • researched and written a debate speech about smartphones or another topic.

Now it’s time to reflect on your learning. Consider and discuss the following questions:

  • How can consumers decide which smartphone or phone plan is best for them?

  • What are the environmental issues associated with mobile phone ownership?

  • What are the financial implications of owning a mobile phone?

  • How does debating help you understand an issue?

  • Where else could you use persuasive devices to change people’s minds?

Teaching notes

The information below supports the implementation of Smart arguments, a resource for English Year 9.


Smart arguments provides an investigative challenge for students to learn about persuasive techniques in debating, focusing on environmental and financial sustainability.

Students explore two sample speeches—one for the affirmative team and another for the negative to debate the topic Smart phones are sustainable. The term ‘sustainable’ is defined as financially and environmentally sustainable. Using the sample speeches, students complete interactive tasks to analyse structure and persuasive devices.

Students are asked to compose a speech for the second affirmative or second negative speaker. In doing so, they will need to consider and research the financial and environmental sustainability of smart phones. The interactive quizzes and website links support their learning and research.

The resource can be completed as a whole class, in small groups or individually with teacher direction, and as an independent homework task. It can be tailored to suit individual class needs and abilities with some students requiring more teacher support.

Display the Outcomes tab to read how this resource links to the National Consumer and Financial Literacy Framework and to the Australian Curriculum.

Display the Activities tab to read a description of each section in the resource, suggestions for class or group discussions and important points to bring to students’ attention in order to support their learning and make the context more authentic and relevant.


Note: the student learnings in the National Consumer and Financial Literacy Framework (.pdf 6.9MB) are divided into, and are applicable over, bands covering two chronological years. The Year 10 band covers both Years 9 and 10.

Year 10

Knowledge and Understanding:

  • Explain the various factors that may impact on achieving personal financial goals

  • Analyse and explain the range of factors affecting consumer choices


  • Use a range of methods and tools to keep financial records in ‘real-life’ contexts

  • Analyse relevant information to make informed choices when purchasing goods and services and/or to resolve consumer choices

Responsibility and Enterprise:

  • Research and identify the ethical and moral dimensions of consumer choices in specific circumstances and the consequences for themselves, their families, the broader community and/or the environment

  • Explore the economic cost of individual and collective consumer decisions on the broader community and the environment

  • Apply informed and assertive consumer decision-making in a range of ‘real-life’ contexts

  • Apply consumer and financial knowledge and skills in relevant class and/or school activities such as student investigations, charity fundraising, product design and development, business ventures and special events

Text structure and organisation

  • ACELA1770 – Compare and contrast the use of cohesive devices in texts, focusing on how they serve to signpost ideas, to make connections and to build semantic associations between ideas

    • Persuasive devices

Responding to literature

  • ACELT1771 – Present an argument about a literary text based on initial impressions and subsequent analysis of the whole text

    • Bringing it together

  • ACELT1634 – Reflect on, discuss and explore notions of literary value and how and why such notions vary according to context

    • Structure of a debate

    • Persuasive devices

Interacting with others

  • ACELY1740 – Listen to spoken texts constructed for different purposes, for example to entertain and to persuade, and analyse how language features of these texts position listeners to respond in particular ways

    • Introduction

    • What’s in a debate

  • ACELY1811 – Use interaction skills to present and discuss an idea and to influence and engage an audience by selecting persuasive language, varying voice tone, pitch, and pace, and using elements such as music and sound effects

    • Structure of a debate

    • Bringing it together

Creating texts

  • ACELY1746 – Create imaginative, informative and persuasive texts that present a point of view and advance or illustrate arguments, including texts that integrate visual, print and/or audio features

    • Bringing it together

This unit of work contributes to the bolded sections in the following aspects of the Achievement Standard in English for Year 9.

Receptive modes (listening, reading and viewing)

By the end of Year 9, students analyse the ways that text structures can be manipulated for effect. They analyse and explain how images, vocabulary choices and language features distinguish the work of individual authors.

They evaluate and integrate ideas and information from texts to form their own interpretations. They select evidence from the text to analyse and explain how language choices and conventions are used to influence an audience. They listen for ways texts position an audience.

Productive modes (speaking, writing and creating)

Students understand how to use a variety of language features to create different levels of meaning. They understand how interpretations can vary by comparing their responses to texts to the responses of others. In creating texts, students demonstrate how manipulating language features and images can create innovative texts.

Students create texts that respond to issues, interpreting and integrating ideas from other texts. They make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions, comparing and evaluating responses to ideas and issues. They edit for effect, selecting vocabulary and grammar that contribute to the precision and persuasiveness of texts and using accurate spelling and punctuation.

Literacy – Students learn vocabulary of debating and financial literacy. They explore and understand financial texts, engage with financial data to extract meaning and use literacy to explain and discuss this meaning. Students learn to use ICT to investigate and inform decision-making in a financial context. They engage with multimodal technology to collect and analyse information.

Numeracy – As students learn to become financially literate they are developing their numeracy skills and deepening their understanding of the numeracy as it applies to finance.

ICT – Students learn to use ICT to investigate and inform decision-making in a financial context. They engage with multimodal technology to collect and analyse information.

Critical and creative thinking – Students are challenged to question choices and engage in investigations to clarify concepts and ideas, seek possibilities and consider alternatives in a financial and sustainable context. They are encouraged to look at alternative ways to be smart consumers and financially responsible citizens.

Personal and social capability – By becoming financially literate, students are adding to their personal and social capability. They engage with activities that relate to learning about their own lives to do with budgeting and financial management.

Ethical understanding – As students investigate financial concepts, they are continually being asked to analyse materials in an ethical way by finding appropriate comparisons, evaluate general statements and interrogate financial claims and sources.

Intercultural understanding – As students investigate their own financial decisions they are encouraged to understand how difference in cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds can affect the financial decisions of others, broadening their awareness and understanding of issues related to living with diversity.

Sustainability — Sustainability provides a rich, engaging and authentic context in which students can explore the concepts involved with financial literacy. They are opened to the idea that sustainability and financial responsibility are often very closely related both for individuals and society in general.


The headings below relate to the sections within this resource. Expand each one to read a description of the section content, along with suggestions for class or group discussions and important points to bring to students’ attention in order to support their learning and make the context more authentic and relevant.

The suggested marking rubric (.pdf 116kB) addresses student assessment relating to the Australian Curriculum Content Descriptors – English Year 9.

Students meet Asmina and learn of their task: to prepare one of the debate speeches in the Smart arguments debate. Students view a list of debate topics and find out the debate topic that Asmina and her friend, Jack, have chosen: ‘that smart phones are sustainable’.

Students review Asmina and Jack’s text messages where they discuss the debate topic. Note: to scroll through the text conversation when viewing this resource on a mobile device, users may need to scroll or swipe using two fingers.

Before doing the Smartphone costs quiz, students could view the MoneySmart Rookie (YouTube) videos: Getting the best mobile deal (0:36) and Peter decides on the wrong mobile plan (0:46). Quiz answers are found in Smartphone costs quiz—Responses and feedback (.pdf 105kB).

The following links are provided to students to help them start exploring arguments for and against the topic, ‘that smart phones are sustainable’.

Downloads at MusterKidsZone

CleanUpMobile Phone

Aussie recycling program


MoneySmart Rookies - Mobile phone deals and plans

Teachers may also like to review MoneySmart Rookies for educators.

Students are introduced to the dynamics and practices of debating. Focus students on the idea that having a debate is different to fighting or arguing in an aggressive way.

Students learn about the elements of debating by reviewing the terms and explanations given in ‘Debating basics’. Students check their understanding in the ‘The big debate’ quiz. They also consider which debating side an argument supports in the ‘Affirmative or negative?’ quiz.

Answers to the quizzes are found in The big debate quiz—Responses and feedback (.pdf 107kB) and Affirmative or negative? quiz—Responses and feedback (.pdf 132kB).

Teachers of students with high literacy needs could guide students through ‘Debating basics’, asking them to provide examples.

This section looks at how speeches in a debate are structured. Two sample speeches are included. This section also promotes the concept of debating as a team activity.

Teachers of students with high literacy needs could print and distribute the speeches and read them aloud to students. Students could practise and/or read aloud small sections of the speeches.

It’s important that the students experience the speeches and become familiar with the arguments in them as they are the focus of the subsequent two sections.

Answers to the quizzes are found in The structure of Asmina’s speech—Responses and feedback (.pdf 132kB) and The structure of Jack’s speech—Responses and feedback (.pdf 252kB).

The persuasive devices of emotive and factual language, authoritative tone, cohesive devices and use of the first person are explored in each of the sample speeches. Students then complete related quiz questions.

Answers to the quiz are found in Persuasive devices quiz—Responses and feedback (.pdf 197kB).

After exploring Jack’s and Asmina’s speeches, students could consider who might have got the higher score for their speech and why.

Teachers of students with high literacy needs may need to go through each of the Persuasive devices interactive in small groups.

Students are asked to write the speech for the second speaker of either the affirmative or negative team. They should consider and research these points:

  • the price range of phones

  • the price range of plans

  • the consumer and financial implications of owning a mobile phone (including the risk of credit card debt)

  • the impacts of smartphones on the environment and possible solutions.

Assist students to learn more about persuasive writing and writing an exposition.

As an extension activity, students could compose speeches for the third speakers in the debate. They could also write the speeches for a new debate topic on sustainability. A list of example topics is provided in the resource. Alternatively, students could prepare a class debate one of the debate topics. Students could think about the manner in which they deliver their speech.

For more ideas about making speeches, visit the What makes a great speech? and Strictly speaking.

The power of speech examines speech as performance and investigates the use of rhetorical devices.

Find out more about debating in The Australia-Asia debating guide.

The following websites will provide students with information about the consumer and financial implications of owning a mobile phone to support their arguments:

Mobile phone deals and plans

Avoiding bill shock

Scam watch

Buying a mobile phone

Phoney deals video

Shopping for a mobile phone

It is important that students reflect on their learning. Five discussion questions are included to facilitate this reflection. Other questions may be relevant to individual classroom settings.