Best ways to use Topic Templates in class with students

As well as being the world’s largest argument mapping platform, Kialo Edu is your one-stop-shop for engaging classroom discussions on debate topics covering everything from ancient Athens to Willy Wonka. Our Topic Templates are ready-to-go Kialo discussions that introduce debate topics to students to get them started.

Our dedicated team designed these resources around common curricular topics — with some purely fun ones thrown in for good measure! You can search directly or browse by category and age level, so it’s always easy to find what you’re looking for. Let’s explore some of the many ways you can incorporate Topic Templates into your teaching.

1. Use Topic Templates to introduce students to a topic

When beginning a new unit or topic, Topic Templates can serve as a valuable tool to assess students’ prior knowledge and generate curiosity. Our Topic Templates promote wide-ranging student discussions, so it’s always worth checking if there’s one that fits the purpose. You can use it as an alternative to the more traditional KWL chart.

First, have students fill out the discussion with what they already know. Then, use it as a jumping-off point to find out what they are curious about. To assess their knowledge, come back to that same discussion at the end of the unit so they can demonstrate what they have learned!

2. Use a Topic Template as the basis for the exact discussion you want to have

A screen on the Discussion Creation Wizard that shows that a user can customize the Name, Thesis, and Language of a Template.

We might not always have the exact topic that fits your needs, but you can still use a Topic Template as a base instead of building one from scratch! Every aspect of a Topic Template is customizable — from the cover image to the starter claims — and you can also add or remove claims before sharing it with students.

3. Use Topic Templates to introduce students to Kialo Edu

A selection of Kialo Templates under the Just for Fun / Icebreakers category.

If your students haven’t used Kialo Edu before, it’s a good idea to hold a quick in-class discussion to get them acquainted with the basics of the platform before you assign them something meatier. Browse our debate topics under the Just for Fun / Icebreakers category, and you’re sure to find something to get them thinking, linking, and expressing themselves!

If you want to try out Kialo Edu to see if it’s a fit for your class, have students join using the Instant Access option. Once they’re familiar with the platform and clamoring for more Kialo Edu discussions, you can choose the best way of signing them up so you can easily invite them to discussions in the future.

4. Use Topic Templates as a zero-prep activity for whenever you need it

It’s always good to have some meaningful activities in your back pocket that you can pull out as needed. Topic Templates are primed and ready whenever you need them — no prep needed!

Whether you need a fifteen-minute breather to deal with an emergency, or a group of fast finishers during homeroom time are in desperate need of something to keep them busy, tasking students to debate a relevant topic is a sure-fire way to keep them engaged and is always just a few clicks away.

5. Use our topics as a reference bank of debate or essay topics

Our templates are designed to kick-start engaging Kialo Edu discussions, but that’s not all they’re good for. Consider them your first port of call whenever you need a list of debatable topics — whether you’re holding competitive debates, facilitating oral discussions, or assigning argumentative essays.

Students focusing on argumentative or persuasive writing can use them as inspiration. Each template contains at least two positions that could be expanded into a piece of writing, so encourage them to browse, preview, and check the starter claims for ideas.

For students using templates as a launchpad for a longer-form piece of writing, why not go further and have them plan their essays using Kialo Edu? It’s never been easier to keep track of the threads of a particular argument, collate sources, and receive feedback. In this age of ChatGPT disruption, some adventurous educators are even using Kialo Edu discussions as an alternative to the traditional essay!

6. Use the Background Info as a writing model for students

An example of background info for a Kialo Edu discussion.

The vast majority of our Topic Templates come with background info: a short text laying out the opposing points in a debate, written in an engaging way and graded by reading level. For students just getting to grips with argumentative writing, these make a great model for short compositions with a clear structure. They’re also perfect for English as a Second Language (ESL) students — clear, concise, and modeling a natural language style.

To get students started, model one or two examples of background info, highlighting the relationship between the thesis, starter claims, and final text. Then distribute new theses and starter claims as writing prompts, or have students brainstorm their own.

These are just a few ideas for how you can use Topic Templates with your class — it’s by no means an exhaustive list! If you have any more suggestions for how to make the most of Topic Templates, get in touch on social media, or directly at!

Want to try Kialo Edu with your class?

Sign up for free and use Kialo Edu to have thoughtful classroom discussions and train students’ argumentation and critical thinking skills.

Try out Kialo Edu