The GP End is Near! Just 6 academic days left before the GP Exam arrives! The lesson in today’s post is perfect for wrapping up your final week of instruction or as a themed, Saturday Session event; but it can also be used any time during the school year to accomplish the following learning goals:
- Build content knowledge
- Heighten hot-button-issue awareness
- Sharpen argumentative mindset
- Broaden discursive reach
This past Saturday, my students rallied together for Saturday Session #3, where I challenged them to the ultimate GP Mission…I call this one…
The activity itself took the full, 3 hours of our Saturday, so if you’re using this activity in the classroom, you’ll want to break it up into smaller parts, which I will slow-down and lay-out in this post:
- DAY 1: Organizing Teams/Instructional Overview
- DAYS 2-3: Top-Secret, Team Research and Debate Strategy
- DAYS 4-5: Debate Presentations
- DAYS 6-7: Essay Session
Cue the theme song…here we go!
ORGANIZE THE TEAMS…
As a bird’s-eye-view point of reference, take a look below at how the Mission G(P)ossible Debate Topics are laid out:
This is a Teacher Reference…don’t share the actual debate topics beforehand because its part of the fun letting them randomly select their Missions without knowing what they’re getting themselves into! Plus, it’s a great way to get them to step outside their comfort zones in a fun, non-threatening way!
There are 7 debate topics total listed below. If you have an average class size of 24, you will only need to select FOUR debate topics. This will put:
- 3 kids on a team
- 6 kids total in a single debate
- @ 4 debate topics,
- = 24 kids!
Adjust the numbers according to:
- How many kids you have
- How many team members you want on a side (groups of 2, 3, 4, etc.)
- How many debate topics you want to cover
Mission G(P)ossible Debate Topics
CLICK HERE for a PDF version of the Operation Cover Sheets.
Who is winning the gender wars?
- Operation Rosie Riveter (women are winning it)
- Operation Ken Doll (men are winning it)
PS…I put the incorrect spelling of “Rosie the Riveter” on my original folder (image above), but I amended this in the document I linked for the Operation Cover Sheets…woops, humanoid moment! Rosy must be Rosie’s alter ego when she’s really being “I am woman, hear me roarrrr!”
Should international tourism be regulated?
- Operation Jet Set (no! don’t regulate it!)
- Operation Homebody (yes! regulate it!)
Should any limits be placed upon scientific research?
- Operation Einstein (no limits to science!)
- Operation Chucky (limit science!)
In an increasingly environmentally-concious society, is Global Warming still a threat?
- Operation Apocalypse Now (yes, it’s still a threat!)
- Operation Brightside (no, it’s decreasing in threat!)
Are we taking modern technology too far?
- Operation Jetson (no! technology is appropriate for our times)
- Operation Old-School (yes! technology is taking it too far!)
How justified are the high salaries and bonuses paid out in celebrity professions?
- Operation Cash Flow (yes, these bonuses are justifiable)
- Operation 99 Percent (no, these bonuses aren’t justified!)
Which form of entertainment makes for a richer, audience experience: the theatre or the cinema/television?
- Operation Broadway (theatre!)
- Operation Starlet (cinema/television!)
Feel free, of course, to adjust the debate topics and mission names at your discretion. I chose mine based on what we still needed in terms of content exposure. If it’s near test time, consider hot-button topics that you think might show up on the test!
Display the Mission G(P)ossible titles (above) in front of the classroom and allow students to ponder the cryptic names of each; do NOT tell them what the debate topics are! It’s part of the fun to watch them blindly select their topics 😉
The teacher should select a group of team leaders. If there are 4 debate topics (which is just about perfect for a class size of 24), you will need 8 leaders (since there are 2 sides to every debate, of course!) to head to the front of the room. These leaders will then browse the Mission titles and select an Operation of their choice.
Once leadership is secured, these students should then be asked to draft their team of researchers. Again, for a class size of 24, your leaders will select at least 2 more researchers from the audience to join them in their mission.
- If this is the first debate/public-speaking experience your students will have, I like teams of 3 on a single side for a debate…typically, I’ll have the team leader engage in the Round 1 speech of 2 minutes; then I’ll have the other two team members tag-team the Round 2 Counter speech, which is a 1-minute time frame.
- Since public speaking can be intimidating, I like the idea of one, more confident student taking control of the first round to get the argument going, followed by the potentially less-bold students having a ‘partner’ to rely on in the follow-up round.
- This strategy ensures that all students feel comfortable in their role. In turn, they will relay information more confidently while getting familiar with being in front of an audience. As the year progresses, you can tighten this standard, but it’s always nice to start slowly!
Click HERE for a PDF copy of the Special Intel sheets I gave each team.
Now it’s time to navigate the activity with your class. Have them find a cozy group spot somewhere in the room, keeping in mind that they have NO idea who their opposition is (hence, the cryptic Operation titles!), so they’ll need to keep their research focus, quiet, and confidential (built-in, classroom management technique to keep down the noise level! I did it this way to micro-manage a devoted, energized-bordering-boisterous, Saturday Session group of 35 kids…all by my lonesome!)
Each team will be given their Top-Secret File, in the form of a manila folder. Inside of this folder, teams will find the Special Intelligence pertaining to their debate task.
MISSION TARGET = the prompt
RESEARCH ANGLE = the argumentative thesis/central idea students will be researching and upholding in the debate
SPECIAL INTELLIGENCE = themed ideas to get students moving in the right direction as they begin their research; this is a brief, teacher-generated scaffold of ideas meant to inspire more in-depth examples…the intention is for students to take the research and run with it!
SECRET WEAPON = unique ideas that the opposition might not necessarily think of, which will serve as Thor’s Hammer during the debate!
As students begin their research, be sure to circulate the room to make certain that all groups understand their task. Also, discuss with them how the “Research Angle” provided is actually the
potential THESIS STATEMENT for a persuasive essay written on that prompt! It’s essential they see this connection right away in order to comprehend how the spoken activity will eventually translate into a written one!
If you have the time, feel free to stuff the Top Secret folders with other valuable research tid-bits, as they apply.
For example, I might a print-out of the following link inside Operation: ‘Rosie Riveter,’ who will be arguing in favor of women winning the gender war:
TOP-SECRET, TEAM RESEARCH & DEBATE STRATEGIZING SESSION
For this portion of the activity, we migrated over to the computer lab, so if you’re taking a week for this activity, you’ll likely want to make some reservations at your Media Center or Computer Lab. Productive noise, welcome!
Here are a few snapshots from Operation Research…
INFORMAL DEBATE PRESENTATIONS
Debate Type: informal, have fun with it!
- ROUND 1, 2 minutes…the argument for or against
- ROUND 2, 1 minute…point-counter rebuttals to Round 1 opposition speech
- Audience Vote, Teacher Confirmation (if they vote the same as you, they get a treat! This ensure that they vote based on evidence, not friendships or entertainment!)
Once students have spent a sufficient amount of time researching their argument, they’ll draft up a strategy for presenting it. Here are a few things they’ll need to work out as a team:
- Who will give the solo, 2-minute speech in Round 1?
- Who would rather team up with a partner to provide counterarguments/rebuttals in the 1-minute segment of Round 2?
- What paperwork should we bring to the podium?
- What will we say if the opposition raises Points X, Y, Z?
- Who will be in charge of organizing our information on the board for the audience to follow?
Once these final details are ironed out, it’s time to hit the podium!
On the board behind each team, I’ve provided space for them to write the following information:
- Mission Target/Essay Prompt
- Investigative Coordinates/Persuasive Thesis
- Mission Accomplished/Evidence to Support the Argument
Have one student from the group quickly jot the information on the board, OR pre-arrange the information on large post-it notes or magnetic card-stock print-outs for quick swapping (which is what I will definitely be doing next time around!)
I encourage students to arrange ideas into Hand Approach themes, or sub-points, so the audience can follow supporting details easily. I also encourage them to use the Point-Counterpoint Chart to draft additional arguments as they arise organically during the course of the debate.
Students can take any notes they’d like up to the podium…
Either of these sets of notes is pretty free-form, but encourage them to keep a list of their original sources handy as well.
Once debate presentations are complete, students will need to transfer spoken knowledge into written communication…let the Operation Essay begin!
You can organize this any which way you’d like, depending on class writing needs. For example, students could:
- Write a full, persuasive essay on their debate side.
- Write a full, discursive essay on their debate topic.
- Draft part of an essay, based on several debate topics (i.e. choosing any debate topic other than you own, draft an intro plus two, discursive body paragraphs–one in favor and one against–that adheres to the selected prompt)
- Write ’em individually.
- Write ’em as a team.
Either way, students are getting exposure to content, finding the connection between content and essay prompt, and practicing the writing craft!
As I mentioned in my most recent post, my students are writing their final essay today…but we’ve taken essay writing to a WHOLE new GP level this time! If you are interested in having your students not only write about global issues but be a part of the solution to one as well, CLICK HERE! Visit The GP Indie to see what we were up to today while writing.
Earlier this year, we did a unit on the value of potable water; and today students are writing to the prompt:
“How far do receiving countries really benefit from development aid?”
Being a part of the UNICEF Tap Project is providing cleaner drinking water to countries in need AND it’s giving students knowledge and experience to support the above essay prompt…share this with your kids as a mini lesson in writing and in global citizenship 😉
Woops! This post was meant to go on my Student website for GP…but oh, well; it gives you more reason to check us out at The GP Indie (a website dedicated to my classroom of awwwwesome GP students this year!)
Ready to start those Two-Column Notes for Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Chapter 9??
Access this HANDOUT to help you along! (Link available by 6pm this evening, 2/24/14).
The TCN’s are DUE on Wednesday, 2/26/14. 🙂
Good luck, and email me with any questions!!
Though I would never give up my summers off or my guaranteed holidays home, there are times in the school year when I wish we had 365, not 180, to teach to this curriculum. There’s just so much to do in so little time!
This always gets me thinking…how can I maximize the opportunities for learning in my classroom?
In my opinion, the best thinking cap is the one fashioned for freshmen, so if I’m going to solve this puzzle, I need to be pondering like a pupil.
I remember being 15. Grades were never an issue because–lucky for me–school was something I did naturally. I was a natural-born nerd 😉 But I definitely had those days where classroom content failed to mesmerize me for whatever teenaged reason.
So what does a student do with his or her time when he or she is not immediately engaged in the lesson? Why, survey the scene, of course.
Lots of times I found myself staring at the walls…
- I’d read and re-read the signs hanging about;
- I’d question the writing on the board–does that homework message pertain to me or is that for some other class?
- I’d sketch an image I saw on a poster;
- I’d practice vocabulary definitions in my mind from the word wall;
- I’d try to memorize a poster adage (“What’s right is not always popular, but what’s popular is not always right”…that hung on the podium of my sophomore year professor, lol).
Anything to pass the time…
- because it was Friday,
- or because there was a pep rally next hour,
- or because softball try-outs were that day…
- because Mrs. __ is repeating herself from yesterday,
- or because I hated reviewing tests,
- or because I already knew everything about topic x…
- OR because I knew nothing about topic x and I intended to keep it that way…I was as stubborn as I was smart, lol.
Sometimes it was educational dazing, sometimes it was just plain dazing. But even still, what I visually stared at always stuck.
As amazing as we are as teachers, we have to allow for the margin of error that not ALL students are ALways engaged at EVERY moment during our class. No matter how much they love and adore us for our dynamic enthusiasm for the job, they have Life weighing on their minds, just as we do.
Is this like teaching by osmosis?!? Perhaps we could mark it up to ‘differentiated instruction’ ?!? 😉
* * *
At its core, asking teachers to turn inattention into learning is like asking someone to successfully saw another in half. Surely this feat is merely illusion, right?
Today, while talking with a colleague about how super-nerdy-cool this year’s Upfront poster ‘line’ is (themed, “Great Moments in History”), it inspired me to create the following classroom visual, which I will share in visual format below…(Danielle Eddy of Boca Raton High School, I dedicate this post to YOU!)
Reaching out to our student population from a multitude of mediums…we work hard, we work smart!
As faithful followers of the news, we know the 2013 summer headlines…but how do we teach them?!
Here are a few renditions of the “Hot Seat” I explored in each of my classes yesterday as we informally chatted about the summer’s news. Feel free to chime in with different ways you approach current events discussions/ideas-sharing/student engagement with your teen population…we’d love to hear a variety of these approaches for use on future current events projects!
- LOW TEMPERATURE…Try the “Boy v. Girl” Game-Style Challenge…inspired by my fellow colleague (props to Ms. Lisa Maultasch!), I split the class into boys versus girls. I wrote each of the ‘Hot Seat: Summer Sizzle’ issues on index cards to start. If it was the girls’ turn to go, they would send a representative up to sit in the Seat. That girl would select a card, doing her best to give “sufficient” evidence of her understanding on the topic. If she could not, the floor would be given to the boys’ team, who would collaborate as one, collective voice to determine a proper response. Any boy could then step up as the spokesperson to relay the answer. If they were correct in their knowledge of the issue, the boys got to take the index card from the Hot Seater girl who could not provide sufficient enough input. Then, this same scenario happened in reverse: a boy would approach the Hot Seat individually; if he could not provide sufficient knowledge on the selected summer headline, the girls could formulate a response collectively and the best team won the index card. Tally up the cards won at the end, and voila! Credit, extra credit, homework passes, participation points, or what-have-you in the way of incentives. More importantly, a baseline awareness was created regarding local, national, and international news.
- MEDIUM TEMPERATURE…Try the “Groups” approach…students organize into teams of 4. The Summer Sizzle Headlines are hanging via index card on the board. First, groups discussed what they know and/or what they learned via interview about the headlined topics. Then, as a group, they determine THREE issues they’d like to present to the class when in the Hot Seat. (It’s amazing how a single group might pick all environmental issues, or all political issues, or all entertainment issues…showing interest in and paying automatic tribute to the General Paper THEMES without even realizing it!). Put groups in the Hot Seat and have them ‘school’ the class on the issues they chose while audience members draft one-sentence summaries in their notes for each of the issues discussed.
- HOT, HOT HEAT!…Try the true-to-form, HOT Seat…students elect to approach the Hot Seat on their own accord; they are there individually, as opposed to group support. Since it’s the beginning of the year, I allow them to pick the Summer Headline they are most comfortable with to discuss. They begin by explaining the issue in its obvious form
Once they finish up their basic summary, however, I bring the heat: I delve deeper into the issue by asking them questions that span beyond the obvious. Specifically, I encourage students to look at a single issue from a variety of lenses (political, environmental, social, etc.), and from multiple levels (local, national, international).
Want to know what I mean by this rather abstract bit of advice?! Well, you’re in luck because I love a good model…
But, patience is a virtue! Take the extra time to observe the dialogue string below, which models HOW to probe students on the issues, and how to guide them toward GP connections:
So GP Student A walks into the classroom…
Teacher: Student A, what issue do you elect to explore?
Student A: I’d like to talk about the recent WILDFIRES occurring in the U.S.
Teacher: Ok, super! Tell me everything you know.
Student A: Well, there are lots of wildfires breaking out in dry states in the West like in Arizona, and California, particularly near important landmarks like Yosemite National Park in the Sierra mountain-chain region. There was also the Beaver Creek fire in Idaho, I think it was.
Teacher: So how does this impact us on a national level?
Student A: Basically it destroys our environment. Like, when the wildfires hit places like Yosemite, it’s destroying entire habitats and animals and plants unique to this environment. My mom mentioned the Sequoias native to the region. Also, I remember reading that the wildfires are posing a threat to the water supplies in California and the Bay Area. Since water is our most basic and essential need, if we don’t have it–well–people in this area could die.
Teacher: Wow, amazing observations about the wildfire’s impact on our environment. Points earned for knowing your stuff!
Student A: Whew! Awesome! (smiles, and relief at surviving the Hot Seat)
Teacher: But wait a minute, let me approach the same topic from a different angle for a minute…
Student A: (uh-ooooh-face)…
Teacher: It makes sense that the wildfires are destroying our environment, but how might they be hurting our economy? Consider that for a minute. Take your time and think about the connection between fire and $$$$…
Student A: (puzzled face, followed by light-bulb)…oh, wait, yeah…soooo…if the wildfires destroy parks like Yosemite, it hurts the economy because then tourists don’t get to visit this site, which is pretty popular otherwise. If the fires destroy what there is to see, no one is going to come to visit it. Our economy takes a hit because that means less tourists spending money there, whether it be on food or hotel or admission tickets.
Teacher: Brilliant connections made between wildfires and our economy. Ok, now that we have a foundation of knowledge, let’s talk about how it can be woven into a GP essay. In essence, what is the “GP Relevance” of this information we’ve studied? Well, there are lots of SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY prompts on the GP exam. A lot of the times, Section 2 of the GP exam will ask you to write essays that cater to the following style of essay prompt: To what extent can we rely on modern technology to control otherwise unpredictable events? So, Student A, let me ask you this…is it possible to beat Mother Nature with modern tools, i.e Technology VERSUS Earth, Air/Wind, Fire, Water…?
Student A: Yeah…totally…I mean, we can use technology to fix pretty much anything today.
Teacher: Prove it 😉
Student A: Ummm…well, hmmm…like hurricanes, we can tell when a hurricane is coming. That’d be technology trumping an unpredictable event, right?!
Teacher: That’s definitely a start, Student A, but you seem unsure. Let’s put our heads together to make sure. Audience, what do you think? To what extent can technology control unpredictable events like natural disasters?
Audience 1: Oooh, I know. Like how Student A said, when it’s a hurricane, we can use technology to predict the path of the hurricane before it harms us. We have the option to evacuate in advance. A couple of years ago, during Hurricane Willow, my family and I drove north to my Grandma’s in Tallahassee to avoid the storm. We boarded up and left.
Teacher: Good point. Technology is definitely a friend to us in Florida, where we are hurricane-prone.
Audience 2: Yeah but in other parts of the U.S., natural disasters like tornadoes aren’t as easy to predict no matter what technology we have available to us. Sometimes natural disasters just kind of drop out of the sky without warning.
Teacher: A valid argument, but where–SPECIFICALLY–have we seen this? Can you provide a concrete example to further support your logic?
Audience 3: I know! How about the Moore, Oklahoma, issue from the summer…didn’t they have, like 10 minutes to evacuate, or something like that?
Teacher: 16. They had 16 minutes. Props for the concrete support, (Audience 3)!
Audience 4: Well what about the sinkholes we looked up? You don’t even get a minute’s warning on that one. The one that happened in Orlando came out of nowhere! One minute you’re standing there, and the next…well, the earth gives way and just kind of swallows you up…
Audience 5: My family and I go to Orlando every year for New Year’s…
Audience 1: Yeah, so that’s GP relevance on the LOCAL level, right?!
Teacher: Exactly. So you’d agree that sometimes we can predict and prevent Mother Nature’s wrath whereas other times we cannot…
Audience 3: Yes, it just depends on where you are and which natural disaster your area is prone to.
Audience 4: Yeah, it’s based on the circumstances.
Teacher (smiles)…thinks to self: ‘mission accomplished….’
This is the best case scenario because students are listening to one another and benefiting from each other’s contributions. Listening to one another probes further thought. The teacher takes a back-seat, merely guiding, as the conversation unfolds. The students draw upon the task that was their homework to fuel the challenge that is their classwork. The highest levels of critical thinking are tested as they discuss the issue together!
What else can you do to immerse your students in the headlines of summer? Submit your experiences here! Who wouldn’t benefit from a fresh approach to common practice?! Pay it Forward!
Happy last-Friday-of-Freedom, GP Teachers!
In honor of THIS special Friday, I’m going to share with you what I’ll be giving my students NEXT Friday…just smile and think, oh hey, there’s still THIS Friday, which means I’m still off!
Back to next Friday, I’m going to give my students the “Hot Seat: Summer Sizzle” handout, linked here. They will have a weekend to take the list of people/places/events home and interview at least 3 people concerning the information on it.
The list on said-handout’s reverse side represents some of the current events/hot topics that took place this past summer, 2013. I am asking my students to INTERVIEW, as opposed to GOOGLE, these ideas because it will get them comfortable with talking about the issues, which is what a great deal of our class is all about 🙂
They will take the weekend to ‘research’ (aka, talk!) about as many of these people/places/events as possible. Then we will engage in a “Hot Seat” activity on Monday following. The Hot Seat can go down in a number of ways, but I usually ask for a few eager volunteers to start; I have them take a seat (5-7 max) in the chairs in the front of the room. The audience and I ask them the Hot Seat questions and they compete for points. If a panelist/Hot-Seater gets a question wrong and an audience member wants to take a stab at it, that audience member can replace the panelist/Hot Seater if the answer is right!
This is the first of TWO documents for this activity. As this is my first time running the ‘show,’ I still need to drum up a solid set of Hot Seat questions now that I have the working list of issues.
Speaking of which, am I missing a Sizzly Summer Headline? PLEASE submit! I was wracking (?!) my brain today between the many pre-school meetings, so it was–I admit–a bit of a scattered process as I tied my Hot Seat all up for bloggie submission.
Tout your expertise here by commenting below on summer issues not on the list!
One word to the wise…keep a close lid on outbursted answers and whispered ones during the actual Hot Seat…answers from panelists gotta (yep, ‘gotta’) be genuine for you to run the show authentically; and there also has to be enough focus from the audience so answers can be both heard and absorbed from the activity.
Otherwise, you’ll be in HOT water, Teach!
Adopt, Adapt, or Entirely Alter…Go Forth and let your classes (Academically) Prosper!
Props to Sunnie Petric (and her hubs) for inspiring this post, fellow teacher and Croatian 😉
Tomorrow is the last regular Friday OF THE YEAR!!! Whether you are cramming in that last lesson or kicking back and winding down, treat your classes to the joy of music…
A special thank you to Christina Gray from Atlantic High School for sharing an inspiring and ‘global’ video she came across that she thought perfect for the Global Pen 🙂 You know how we loooove music here (though the creator of the Pen can’t carry a tune to save her dear life…sighs…)!
Check out the song, “A Better Place,” by Playing for Change, a movement to connect the world through music...and this song does just that! From the bottom of the bayous in the deep South, USA, to the thatched rooftops of Thailand and beyond, this global group of musicians sings out against inequality as they promote freedom, dignity, and PEACE.
My favorite part would be the singer from Senegal…we are all the same! Get it!