Whew! We did it! Another round of debates on the topic of Revolution is in the books. This year proved much more difficult for a variety of reasons, but despite the issues I believe the learning increased and we explore new ideas that would have never have been achieved otherwise.
First, this debate project includes over 900 students from all over the globe. We have students who debate, judge, listen, and more during this project. Trying to manage a project of this size with zero financial support on top of many other duties of another job can be stressful. Trying to coordinate debate times for classrooms as teachers when there is so much pressure to perform high quality can be challenging. Coordinating and depending on everyone to do their parts is a miracle in and of itself.
And yet it all comes together.
This debate project started back on October. In October we coordinate teachers and schools. We try to make sure all teams have another team to go against. We spend time sharing materials and resources and doing lots of front end teacher prep to make sure everything is ready to go. This year we had over 10 schools involved from Iowa, Colorado, India, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Taiwan. Kansas and Michigan.
The first challenge was my new job has me outside of the school in which I used to work and host the debates. This provided unique challenges to find time to stay on top of all the details. It also proved difficult to stay connected with the day to day operations of the debate. By the end of October we were all setup and ready to go.
November, students started to record. Over the course of November all speakers recorded. This went smoothly for the most part as the teachers are dedicated and understand how important it is to stay on schedule. Once again, like many things in education, teachers deliver and knock it out of the park.
December our goal was to complete all judging. We always try to get all results back before the winter break. This year we ran into our biggest snag in four years doing this project. We had a teacher drop on us the week of judging. Just like that we lost 100 judges setting us back to score all 130 debates. Judging is critical as we like to use this for students to work on standards for listening, critical thinking, and communication. More importantly, it provides a bias free result.
We went into scramble mode. This is where the amazingness of people shine. This is where the unexpected learning comes together.
We had friends from Maryland, Texas, Indiana, Taiwan, Iowa, and more step in to offer help judging. Vicki Davis share a request in her newsletter which proves how wonderful she is always stepping in to help when she can.
Our new friends from Taiwan were AMAZING. Major shoutout to Thomas Williamson from Kachsung American School for not only helping, but providing very thorough feedback to the students with both written and oral feedback to students. This new friendship is going to take the project to the next level next year when we revamp and expand the project.
We had lawyers, stay at home parents, teachers, students, and more all step in and help at a time of year when everyone is super busy.
I cannot say THANK YOU enough. It warms my heart to watch people come together to help students. So much talk in education is negative and I wish more stories like this were shared to give credit to the teachers and people in the global community who are willing to do what it takes to keep learning going.
Despite not getting the results done before break I believe it was worth it.
- Students are able to see the nature of people and goodwill in stepping in and helping them get feedback on their hard work.
- Building new connections globally for a better version of this project
- I had to step in and judge 30 debates and I was able to think of ways to push the thinking and learning for this project
In the end the results were very close. It came down to the negative side eeking out the victory in overall victories in a narrow 67-64 margin.
If you want to learn more about the project you can check out our handbook.
This handbook will be getting overhauled into a more professional look and feel and made available to all very soon. We are combing through it to align to standards, build in competency work, and just tighten up the flow to be better for everyone.
Additionally, we will be looking to move into more of the aspect of Revolution as a theme and not so specific to the American Revolution. As we expand our reach in this project it is time to open up the channels to have students explore the concept of Revolution vs. the time period of American Revolution.
In the end we made it. It was successful although taking longer than we all wanted. Once again I am reminded that teachers are amazing.