Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Working Together

The emphasis this week has been collaborative work in various forms. Chief among these was preparation for two separate formal debates regarding genetic modifications in salmon and mosquitoes. Students were divided into four teams and researched each topic before writing notes on arguments, counterarguments, and rebuttals. The class also spent time composing a list of good and bad habits in public speaking. The debates were held to great acclaim on Wednesday. In addition, students finished reading Nancy Farmer's House of the Scorpion and worked individually writing book reviews.

Collaboration was also key in our continued study of the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In this case, students were first given an assignment regarding a proposed classroom constitution. This work was completed individually. Next, each student brought a particular bit of expertise to bear on a full-class activity in which they exchanged information on a dozen debatable issues. The format of the activity requires that every student in the class get some information from every other student. This is sometimes referred to as a 'free market' activity, since the kids trade information and persuasive analysis with each other. The next step, after the holiday break, will be to pool opinions (just as in the American Constitutional Convention) and hammer out a finished product for the 7-8 homeroom.

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