I am not going to blog about the whole journey of this amazing project. You can find all information about Flat Classroom and this particular online global debate project here
Rather, I am going to reflect about the final championship debate for Bracket C. I want to start off by sharing an email I sent out the students who I was so lucky to work with for this project. My students were 8th grade students that were pulled from social studies for about 6 weeks to do this project. I am ever so thankful for the teachers willing to work with me and being flexible to allow this happen.
Here is what I shared with my student via email this morning. I have removed parts that are not necessary for the sake of this blog post.
Happy Friday everyone!
I decided to share this email because I think the information shared from judges and our experience are things that apply to life in all aspects. The examples are focused on the debate, but I always like to think big picture and figure out how what I teach can transfer to real life.
As a teacher I cannot get over #2 on the tips for judges. How do we as teachers bring in the real world? There is so much going on in the world how does a teacher decide what to focus on? It goes back to an old idea of mine where social studies is taught backwards. You find current events and trace the history of the event backwards and explore our past this way. I don’t know yet, but I know that as we push for more global education students need to understand the world and cultures. Sometimes I think that reading about the past eliminates time to teach these broader concepts. I don’t know the answer, but I am stuck on this piece.
Perhaps at this point I should step back and talk about our debate system.
First, Mrs. Hatch brought in some super power brain food to get us started. Can you start your day any better than with some donut holes?
Next, due to schedule and conflicts we all had to cram into my office. I brought my Mac in as the mic on this is very good and I don’t always trust our school equipment. It never seems to work for me. We had to gather around the one computer and listen as best we could. It was not super loud, but loud enough.
These pictures speak volumes to process, learning, and teamwork involved.
These two pictures show education at a high level. We have students listening, analyzing, and trying to process new ideas and concepts in real time without much time to finalize as a team. During the short quick breaks they quickly dispersed ideas and had to quickly gather all their ideas, write ideas down and looking for that one loophole that we needed to win. It was remarkable. I sat on the floor with my coffee and just watched it unfold. I try very hard to keep my thoughts and ideas out as this is their debate. I do give them things to ponder, but never give facts or information directly.
Go to the debate – http://eracism.flatclassroomproject.org/Debate+Finals+12-2
It is bracket C.
Listen to the articulation of these students from both teams. It is amazing. I have never been part of such high level system of thought with middle school students before.
We have one more team ready to debate against China next week in Bracket B. I am excited to watch them debate and see how they argue. They are on the opposite side so it is much different in terms of thought and strategies. I hope to connect with them before the debate, but who knows. I know they will be ready and I will once again share the information and reflect as well.
I would love to hear from you about the ideas and thoughts shared in this post. What is your reaction? Do you have other food for thought? What would you like to know more about? I want to keep this conversation going because I feel like these students were pushed to a whole new level and really explored their capabilities without worry of grades and rubrics. Rather, they had a live audience that they wanted to impress and do well. THINK Global was amazing we have learned a great deal from them. It is awesome how much we can learn from other schools and students through engagements like this.
This is my first time working a debate and something like this with middle school. As a teacher I learned a great deal about myself and my teaching. I have things to improve as well. More importantly, I am excited for teaching and learning. I am now intrigued by the things mentioned above and how I can make changes to my teaching to bring these concepts to life.
I will be blogging again soon when I have time to gather my thoughts a bit deeper.