|Sra. Ossman's AP Spanish students|
1) Provide opportunities for students to research ahead of time. In Ms. Hackman's AP Psych class, students spent multiple days preparing arguments about various theories of intelligence so they could answer any arguments against the theory they were assigned.
2) Assign "sides" of the debate ahead of time, but allow students at some point to weigh in with their true feelings. In Ms. Goebel's Chemistry class, students debated their assigned side of a debate about the benefits and consequences of nuclear energy. However, as an exit activity, they wrote what their true feelings were about the issue after listening to their classmates. In Mr. Foster's English class, students were asked to put their heads down on their desk and cast a silent vote about which debater was most persuasive.
|Ms. Shin-Cooper's Human Geo class|
3) Actively promote listening. Ms. Shin-Cooper requires her Human Geo students to restate what their opponent says before weighing in with their own views. This simple technique reinforces the importance of internalizing the other side of the issue.
4) Use timing structures effectively. In AP Spanish, Senora Ossman and Senora Heissel use stopwatches and are very systematic about how long each side speaks and rebuts, assuring for a controlled and equitable conversation.
5) Find fun ways for students "invest" in the activity.
|Mr. Crandall's APUSH Reformers|
In fact, when Mr. Brooks brought his students down to the lab, he began the class with this famous quote: "History doesn't repeat itself; it rhymes." This couldn't apply more to the debates occurring here at Buffalo Grove High School. While all the debates promote similar skills and outcomes, they are all a little different from each other in terms of their logistics. Ultimately, with a little planning, this engaging activity is worth a try in any classroom--there's no debate about that.