It’s been some time since I’ve written about what is going on in Mrs. Sisley’s classroom. So in case you were wondering the year is off to a great start and I’m excited to share a little bit. Currently, I am teaching six classes. In the mornings I have three English 9 classes one of which is an Inclusion class. During the afternoons I teach three Honors World History classes. This is the first school year that an Honors History course has been offered since I’ve been working in my district and I’m thrilled to get the privilege of teaching this course.
The first few weeks have been spent getting their feet wet and providing opportunities for my students to discover my expectations. In English so far we’ve written one essay, read two short stories, and each student has now completed two of their Nine in 9th Independent Reading books. Next week we will be presenting book #2. (For more information on my Nine in 9th reading program check out my post Nine in 9th)
In history we have familiarized ourselves with GoogleDocs and the submission process through several assignments. They have completed the first of nine Current Event projects, written an article about the construction of the Palace of Versailles and taken their first test over the Age of Absolutism. I’ve been really pleased with my honors students and their drive to meet the high expectations that I have set for them. I’ve asked for quite a lot to be done in the first month of school, but for the most part they have risen to the challenge.
This week I am braving new territory and assigning my first ever debate in my Honors World History classes. We are currently learning about the Enlightenment and the impact that this time period and its thinkers have had on our world. I have chosen to center a debate around the ideas that we are learning in class. I’ve also researched many different debate methods and have chosen to use a Team Policy Debate format since this is their first formal debate.
The students will be assigned to a partner and position. Their goal will be to argue for or against a specific idea that came out of the Enlightenment. I have modified the time restraints for the Team Policy Debate for this first debate to last only twenty-four minutes (essentially halving the time allotted for each segment.) I’m a little nervous that debates could become chaotic, but sticking to a format should help with keeping things professional and moving at a quick pace. I’m also allowing the students to use pre-made note cards to direct their points in order to promote research and use of data to inform dialogue as opposed to feelings and thoughts of the students alone.
The purpose of this activity is to give the students an opportunity to perform research and put into the practice the principles that we are learning about in this unit. I have three classes of highly intelligent and opinionated people that make me eager to try this activity.
If you are a teacher and have used debates in your classroom I’d love to hear from you! What went well? What was a challenge? And any other advice you may have.
I love my job, my students, and my calling!