The learning plan described in this paper is to have students debate a topic related to the Civil War. The debate topic is “Was the Emancipation Proclamation enacted for moral reasons or political reasons?” The main concept of this learning plan is to have students work collaboratively to research facts, and recall and use facts from the Civil War unit to incorporate into their arguments. (It should be noted that the learning plan described in this paper will take several classes to complete, however the learning plan procedures will only address the class where the debate will occur.) It is assumed that debate skills were taught in a previous class.
The learning theory certainly incorporates constructivist aspects. They are constructing knowledge rather than absorbing it. This is constructivist approach is illustrated through the collaborative nature of the assignment, as well as through the research that students’ must produce. In terms of the use of technology and media; the students will be instructed to research one source of information, from the internet, related to their argument. They must submit a one-page analysis of the information in which they found along with a references page. This must be submitted to the teacher a week before the scheduled debate.
The teacher will assess the content of the paper, but the references page will also be important. Teacher must evaluate the kinds of internet sources that the students have used. The credibility of the internet source, and the strength of student’s research will be analyzed by the teacher. The purpose is to assess student’s traditional literacy and critical analytical skills (assessed when evaluating the content), and information literacy/interpretation skills of online material (assessed by reviewing the reference page). Finally, the teacher will hand back papers to the students, and he/she will instruct each group to use at least two of their group members’ papers into their group’s arguments. Media and technology will also be incorporated with the use of social media. The teacher will tell students that their debates will be recorded and submitted to youtube or a private school website (if issues of privacy are raised). Others will be allowed to view the video to evaluate the strength of each team’s arguments. Based on the comments of public viewers, a winner will be chosen (by popular vote). This popular vote will be incorporated as a small percentage into the assessment. This is being done as to allow students to participate in new media opportunities within an educational context. Learning Plan Context
The high needs school will be a High School in the Bay Area, either in San Francisco or Oakland. There will be 25-30 students in an individual classroom. The lesson will take place the week after the Civil War unit is finished. It is anticipated that the unit will last about two weeks, therefore the debate class will occur during the third week. The actual debate class will take up one class period. The content area is US History/Politics. The grade level is Juniors (11th grade). In sum, the curriculum unit is 11th grade, US History/Politics, Civil War unit. Standards
According to California standards for literacy in History/Social Studies in 6-12th grades. A student must be able to demonstrate analysis of primary and secondary sources, and connect these insights to the understanding of the whole text. This ability will be addressed and assessed when students must incorporate information learned from the textbook with information gained from the internet, and use both sources of information, into their debate. The student’s ability to undertake this task will be evaluated by the teacher with the submission of student’s sources, and also during the debate. (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/finalelaccssstandards.pdf.) Also according to California standards, students must be able to evaluate various explanations for events and actions.
This standard is illustrated in the nature of the activity. A debate, in itself, evaluates different explanations for one event, which makes it an ideal means of addressing this standard (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/finalelaccssstandards.pdf.) Finally, according to California standards, students must be able to evaluate differing points of view on the same historical issue. Once again, this standard is illustrated within the nature of a debate. It is also illustrated when students submit their own analysis of internet research (http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/finalelaccssstandards.pdf.)
Students will be able to collaboratively demonstrate their knowledge of Civil War policy, events and information, from the textbook and from online sources, by formulating arguments to be presented within a debate. Learning Theory Applications
Constructivism is certainly at play in this lesson plan:
The activity allows knowledge to be organized into schemas, concepts, and worldviews. This activity is emphasizing the use of authentic activities by constructing knowledge through interaction with the environments (internet and peers), and applying it to real-life situations (debate). The collaborative component certainly illustrates constuctivism; learners will help each other create conceptual connections. Finally, students are working autonomously with the help of the teacher as facilitator, supporter, and model (Ormrod, 2006). Learning Accommodations:
Individualized Education Plan for Special Accomodations: In each team, all students will be assigned a role. For example, “speaker”, “writer”, “time-keeper”. A student’s IEP will be taken into consideration when assigning roles. A student with an IEP, will be assigned a role that best fits their IEP. For example, a student with ADD, may be best suited to be a time-keeper since their attention span is not as focused. They may be anxious to change the pace of the group’s discussions, and therefore they may be eager to keep track of the time. Language Development needs: When assigning the internet-based research; the teacher will give ELL students a website to navigate to, instead of having the students navigate the internet themselves. Teacher will give explicit instructions as to where to look on the website so students do not feel too overwhelmed with the English language. Teacher will ask the students to try to comprehend some of the information, however if this proves too difficult, then the teacher will ask the students to find 15-20 words from the website that the student did not understand. The student will then find the meanings of these words in their own language. They must write at least a paragraph about the Civil War unit incorporating five of the words that they found on the internet.
Also, at least two of these words must be incorporated into the arguments of their team. Gifted and Talented needs: This is a challenging component to consider because a gifted/talented student does not necessarily mean an academic-rigorous student. To really tailor the lesson to address the interests of a gifted/talented student, then the teacher will have to be familiar with the personality of that particular student. However, some situations will be addressed here. First of all, from the research, the lesson itself befits that of a gifted/talented student. Competition, which characterizes a debate, usually suits the nature of gifted/talented students. (http://www.teachersfirst.com/gifted_strategies.cfm) The first situation to consider is a student who is gifted/talented, but not academically rigorous. This student will be given a leadership role within his/her team. He/she may be assigned to organize/manage all the ideas of the students. He/she is the one who will be given the rubric for what the teacher is assessing when observing the team’s discussions and arguments.
He/she is the manager, and he/she will be assessed on their ability to keep his/her team on task. In this way, this student isn’t necessarily doing more “academic” work, but he/she is being challenged in a rather difficult manner. A second situation to consider is to have a gifted/talented student who is academically rigorous. The teacher will give this student a second component to add to his/her research paper. The student must connect textbook material and internet material to the US politics of today. This is increasing the cognitive process from analyze (which all students must do with their research papers) to evaluate (Anderson and Krathwol, 2001). The student can choose to incorporate this extra component into their team’s arguments. Resource Accommodations:
Low tech: There are no computers, projector, or internet access in the classroom. If this is the case, teacher may have to allocate time in different lessons to use school facilities where computers are available. Computers must be used so that the teacher can show students the kinds of websites that are credible, as well as to use sites, like youtube, to show students examples of debates. Computer use is necessary so teacher may have to take time before or after school to meet with students (who are willing) to show them the above-mentioned websites. Mid tech: One computer connected to a projector is available in the classroom. The teacher can use this computer to show examples of credible websites, as well as to show examples of debates online. High tech: Class is equipped with several computers. Teams can go online themselves to view videos of debates and start research for their paper. In this way, the collaborative nature of the lesson will start even earlier (in the pre-planning stage). Content-Based Literacy Skills
In terms of text-based literacy; students must incorporate information from their textbook into their arguments Critical thinking, reflective thought, and text-supported thinking will be illustrated when students must draw connections between internet-based information and textbook information while doing their analysis/research paper. This connection will be evaluated when student’s cute their sources within their paper. (This explanation will also illustrate students’ information literacy.) New Media Literacy Skills
Performance: This skill is illustrated when students view sample debates on the internet and use this as models of performance in their own debates. Collective Intelligence: This skill is done when students are within their respective teams and they must draw upon their own and others ideas, research, and knowledge to formulate strong arguments. Judgement: This skill is illustrated when students must judge which websites and information are to be included in their research/analysis paper. Networking: Once again, this skill is illustrated when students must search, connect, and analyze information on the internet for the purpose of their research/analysis paper (Jenkins, 2001). Learning Material:
Textbook: Learners will need textbook so that they can recall information. Paper, pen: Leaners will need so that they can write down information. Rubric: Both the learner and teacher needs. Learners need it so that they are aware of what’s expected of them while working in teams and formulating their arguments. Teacher needs it so that he/she can refer to it when assessing the team’s progress. Notes: Learners will need them as a reference when formulating arguments. Stopwatch/watch: This will be given to
the student whose job is timekeeper. Video Camera: Used to record the debate
Learning Plan Procedures
Phase I: Motivation Activity
Teacher will show a short clip of a very powerful, interesting debate. Possibly a presidential debate. The clip will only show the most poignant part (according to the teacher) of the debate. Hopefully the clip will be no longer than 5 minutes long. (if there’s no computer available, then teacher must bring in her/his own computer.) In a class of 30 chair/table. There will be 15 chairs/ tables on each side of the room. They will be facing eachother. Learners will enter the classroom and sit down immediately with their team. The teacher will then show the video as soon as the class is seated and quiet. This activity is being done to motivate, encourage, and remind students of what a good debate looks like so that the output of the students’ debates can match skills such as speaking (clear and concise) and eye-contact of the debaters within the video. Phase II: Input (Teacher Driven) Activity:
During this class, the teacher will, serve only as facilitator, therefore not much activity will be driven by the teacher. However, after the video, the teacher will remind students of the rubric that was given to them, and tell students that she/he is only their to assist in the logistics of the debate (time, flow, managing emotions if this becomes a problem). The teacher will also instruct students to take notes on each other’s arguments because this assignment will be important for their homework assignment. She/he will also remind student that they will be recorded. Teacher will tell all students to take out their rubrics.
She/He will go over some key point from the rubric as it relates to the debate. The teacher will tell students to make sure that they keep these key points in mind because these points will be assessed during the debate. The teacher will instruct students to have their rubrics out for the entire class so they can monitor their team’s progress by themselves. Teacher will formally go over key questions from the rubric that he/she hopes the teams have incorporated into the nature of the debate (clear speech, eye contact, concise points, respectful behavior) as well as into the content of the debate. In term of the nature of the debate, questions might look like “Is my team being quiet/respectful as the other team presents their arguments?”, “Are my responses to the other’s teams arguments not insulting?” etc. In terms of the content of the debate, questions may look like, “Did my team incorporate facts from the textbook?”, “Did my team use at least two credible internet sources within the argument?”, “Did my team follow special instructions assigned by the teacher (e.g. incorporating ideas from IEP students, ELL student, gifted students)?.”
This activity and these questions serve to remind students of the importance of the collaborative nature of the learning objective. They also serve to remind students that they must be able to demonstrate their understanding of the Civil War unit, as well as their understanding of outside sources within the context of an argument. Phase III: Output (Learner Driven) Activity
Students will take part in a debate. The topic is “Was the Emancipation Proclamation enacted for moral reasons or political reasons?” This activity will illustrate the learning objective in several ways. First, the collaborative nature of the previous classes will finally be demonstrated. Second, the students must illustrate their knowledge of Civil War policies within their arguments. Third, both sides’ arguments must include information from outside sources. The teacher will select one team to present their arguments first. Recording will begin
The speaker of that team will stand up and come to the front of the class. They will present their team’s argument. In the argument they must mention the sources in which they got their information. For example, if they got a particular piece of data from the textbook, then they must state “As is presented in the textbook…”. If they got a particular piece of data from the internet then they must state, “As is presented on so-called website, or by so-called author…” They must also explicitly state how they used the “special instructions” from the teacher. For example, “(ELL’s student’s name) found that ‘compromise’ was not a possible solution of the Civil War.” In this example, it is assumed that compromise was on a list of words that an ELL student did not understand. He/she presented these list of words to his/her team. The team reviewed the list, and chose to use the word compromise as part of their argument. The student will finish the presentation of his/her argument. The teacher will tell the next team to present its argument. The team will follow the same procedure as above. The teacher will then stop recording of the debate.
This debate will naturally lead to questions, comments from both the teacher and the students. Phase IV: Culmination. The teacher will ask the groups to clear up any misunderstandings or misinformation the teams may have had within their argument. This is to give other team members a chance to speak about the argument, which reinforces the collaborative effort of the lesson. The teacher will also ask students how their team’s or the other team’s information and debate skills differed and how these things were similar to the debate presented in the beginning of the class. As a smaller activity, the teacher will instruct all the students to come up with one question, comment, critique of the other team’s argument. This assignment will illustrate each student’s understanding of the Civil War Unit because it challenges students to relate, connect, or counter-argue their own knowledge of the unit. This question will be submitted to the teacher. Phase V: Extension
For homework, students will write a one-page analysis of the opposing teams arguments. The student will address the opposing side’s arguments. He/she will evaluate the argument’s weaknesses, strengths; and why he/she disagreed or agreed with the points that were made. Learning Plan Analysis
Formative assessments will include analyzing the collaborative efforts of the team, the behavior of each team during the presentation of the opposing team’s arguments, how well each team member took on their role within their team, and how well the team incorporated textbook information, outside information, and ‘”special instructions” from the teacher into their argument. A summative assessment will include the teacher’s evaluation of the internet analysis/research paper, the one-page analysis of opposing team’s argument, teacher’s evaluations of the strength of the arguments, and finally the “popular vote” (the results of youtube or school-based website).
Weaknesses of this lesson plan include time constraints, and the many assessments involved. It may be difficult to accurately assess how well each team members took on their roles. Some students may still be taking on more work than others. Also, incorporating ELL/IEP students proved to be a difficult task.. Strength of the lesson is it fosters team work, analytical skills, and gives students more power in the direction and implementation of a lesson. The teacher will implement these varied assessments in its first year, and then will evaluate the effectiveness of these assessments for future classes.
The learning theories applied in the first phase was Vygotzky’s Cognitive Process. Students are witnessing two adults debating and they are expected to try to learn/imitate the behaviors of those adults. In the second phase, social cognitive theory is at play. The teacher both models desired behaviors/outcomes, as well as emphasizes self-efficacy and self-regulation. In the third phase, constructivism is illustrated. The debate is student-driven because the students are demonstrating their constructed knowledge within the debate. The assessments have a behaviorist component. Negative reinforcement (decrease a behavior) is illustrated when the teacher warns students that if they are not respectful or a team member does not contribute meaningfully, then they may be marked down (Ormrod, 2008).
Anderson, L. W. , & Krathwol, D. R. (2001) . A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching, and Assessing, 28-31.
California Department of Education. (2013) California Common Core State Standards. http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/documents/finalelaccssstandards.pdf Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., and Weigel, M. (2006). “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.” Chicago, IL: MacArthur Foundation. Ormrod, J. E. (2008). Educational Psychology Developing Learners, 8. 25-36. Teachers First. (2014) http://www.teachersfirst.com/gifted_strategies.cfm
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