I have blogged about this project several times(see the end of post to see past reflections). Well, I have some more ideas to share. I have learned that I am not good enough yet and have made preparations to be better as an educator. Talk about a model learner! Yes, I admit that I could have been better as a teacher. That is the truth and I accept that.
Doing this project for the second time, but with a younger group of students was essential for me to realize that I have more to learn. Without this opportunity I would have never known.
Working with sixth grade students on this project has really changed the operations of this project. Here are some issues that I did not discuss in the first 6th grade reflection.
1. They need more strict guidance and focus because they are just too immature mentally and socially.
2. Many don't use Facebook or social media tools so this just debunks the whole notion of them all being online using these tools.
3. Wait......why are they not online connecting to learn besides the apps that lead to nowhere good?
4. Structure on how to do research because they really have no idea how to gather research and piece it together as a team.
5. Teach them how to listen. They don't know how.
So, what I am going to do about it?
1. Google Research in Google Drive - I recently realized that I am an idiot for not using this tool. I will require this tool for them to research. I will teach them and the first thing we will do is create an annotated bibliography using the tool to gather research and work through the How-To's. I made the mistake of assuming that they could find an article, extract the proper information and share it with their team. They made a feeble attempt, but I needed to give more step by step direction and then let them go. I left it too open too soon and we struggled in this area during the first round.
2. From the annotated bibliographies of each student I will have them critique the information provided to get them ready to create rebuttals in the debate. Having them look critically will help them listen. I think by doing this activity throughout in terms of arguing the merits of the article or book will help them process the information while at the same time working on persuasive skills needed to debate. While debating we wanted to talk like it was a summary and not really sell our ideas.
3. Teach them to create a chart and how to document the information shared by the other team. As opposed to just a blank piece of paper to capture ideas I will give them a template to follow. I have found that the open piece of paper is too broad and they miss out on key phrases and facts to respond to. There is not enough time to listen to the debates twice so they have to be on the spot. When I judge debates for this project I use a grid system and for some reason I never thought to teach my students the method. We used it second round and it worked so much better. It forces them to key in on key facts and phrases and learn to scheme and strategize much more efficiently.
4. Evaluate their scripts and statements for grammar and spelling. We often don't have time to cover this in great detail, but with so much time on speaking, listening, writing, and research why am I not hammering this big time? Time to bring out the guns and teach them. This will help them in organizing ideas as well as speaking.
5. Kick kids out who don't work. I give them several chances to work and warnings, but this is not a required class. If you are just going to goof around and mess up the document, leave immature comments in the Google comments, and not contribute.....see you later. Grow up and try again. Sometimes I need to be a bit more harsh. I like to let them learn and let the group bring them in, but 6th grade they don't do this. In 8th grade they will call the person out, but not at this level. I need to be that person. I think if I remove them after giving some warnings and vision about what to do, then they have had their chance. If it continues, then remove them. They need to realize this is a great opportunity to learn. If you don't want to be passionate about it, then perhaps this is not for you. I really believe that sometimes removing a student from an opportunity like this can be a wake up call that they need to take advantage of what is being provided to them. I don't think they always understand this. Once they have lost that chance, they will realize it and next time around they will be more focused. And yes, I have that luxury over most teachers as this is an enrichment opportunity. I am blessed to hold that over their heads which I know most classroom teachers don't have this, but I need to use this when needed.
It has been an interesting journey for me. I have found myself more frustrated with the sixth grade compared to 8th grade, but I have to remember they are lacking several key tools, skill sets, and thought processes that 8th grade came to me with. My frustrations stem from me not preparing them as well as I should have and therefore I point the finger at myself and not them. I have to step back and teach them. I assumed too much and that lead to my frustration. Next time I will take care of the gaps and I know that it will resolve the frustrations I felt during this sixth grade enrichment. I have high expectations and I need to remember that if don't equip them properly how will they ever achieve this status?
With that all being said, I am so proud of how much we turned things around from the first round to the second round. I implemented some of these ideas and the students realized they did not quite work to their potential. I think it was a great wake up call to not win the first round. It knocked them down a notch and made them realize they had to improve and I had to do the same. We were in this together as a unit, the students and I, and as a unit we modified our system to make it work.
It has been another wonderful experience for myself as a teacher and creating a classroom that was able to see growth in learning and engagement. The learning did not stop with a letter grade as I did not give a grade. I told them the world was listening to them and that should be all they needed in order to do well because who wants to sound unprepared to the world? The learning has continued beyond the debate class and I am so excited to work with these students on new projects this year and the years to come.
Any suggestions or thoughts? I would love to hear them. Especially on how to teach listening?
6th Grade Debate Project: Eracism
March 15th, 2013: Flat Classroom Global Debate Project: Eracism
"How do I operate my classroom and run the day to day operations of preparing for a global debate?"
8th Grade Debate Project: Eracism
December 19th, 2012
December 14th, 2012
December 12th, 2012
October 25th, 2012
Flat Classroom: Eracism Round 1: AMAZING!