Quarter 1 has a lot to do with getting your students acquainted with global issues, filling the “blank slate”–so to speak—with those basics that’ll lay the groundwork for deeper research later.
While it’s true you simply can’t cover every contemporary and/or controversial issue out there, you do have the Quarter 1 obligation of helping students feel comfortable with (and even excited about!) these issues before they’re expected to write (at length) about them. After all, a General Paper student’s worst nightmare is not recognizing the wide variety of issues presented on the exam, and an AP Seminar or AICE Global Perspectives student’s worst nightmare is not being able to find a research question in time for through-course deadlines. Therefore, the better we are at teaching them about research range, the better off they’ll be when it comes time to perform.
What better way to open up exploration than getting your hands dirty! Using the ‘Hand’ Approach in your classroom will do two amazing things for your writers:
- First, it’ll show them the many ways in which researchers can delve deeply into a research topic;
- and second–once they’ve seen such variety–they can use this same approach to narrow and deepen their own research focus.
Once you’ve opened their eyes to the many research avenues worth exploring, students can then use [this tool] to narrow down exactly what it is they wish to investigate.
In brief, the Hand Approach works like this…first it BROADENS their mind, then it NARROWS their focus. Ya dig?
Interested in reading the FULL BLOG POST? Head on over to the edPioneer sprawl for a helping ‘hand’ with lesson planning!
Greetings, Global Penners!
Are you a south Florida resident? If you are, I’m cordially inviting you to join me for an awesome, awe-inspiring opportunity! On Sunday, April 17th, 2016, there will be a community viewing of the documentary, Most Likely to Succeed, followed by an education forum to exchange ideas about improving learning in America!
Most Likely to Succeed gracefully challenges the conventional wisdom for a longer day, longer year, and an increasing focus on test prep. This documentary argues that it’s “time for another transformation.” Specifically, it features High Tech High–located in San Diego, California; here, students spend their year preparing for their term-end ‘Presentation of Learning,’ an inspiring picture of what many of us hope for millions of American students…
Check out the Most Likely to Succeed trailer HERE!
One of the goals of this documentary is to inspire discussion between parents and teachers, students, community members.
Anyone who has a stake in education should be a part of this conversation!
This is why the Global Pen is inviting YOU to take part in the movement to #RethinkHighSchool education in America!
As a part of our south Florida community and as a part of some very forward-thinking curriculums where students are at the center of learning via project-based inquiry and exploration (AICE and AP Capstone), I know we have much to say in this conversation…I couldn’t think of better voices in the matter than each of you!!
This event is hosted by the School of Leadership, Innovation, Creativity, & Entrepreneurship. (Guess who had the pleasure of designing the video below to depict S.L.I.C.E.’s vision? Yours Truly 😉 )
Here are the invitation details 🙂 DO join us on April 17! I can’t wait to see all of your faces and hear all of your voices!
The School of Leadership, Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (S.L.I.C.E.) invites you to join us for a viewing of the evolutionary documentary, Most Likely to Succeed, followed by an Innovation Forum where we’ll engage in an open exchange of ideas in an attempt to improve high school education in Palm Beach County, Florida. We hope that our ideas will inspire a national movement for change in education.
Most Likely to Succeed
Documentary Viewing & Innovation Forum
April 17th, 3:30pm-6:30pm
Boca Raton Community High School, Kathryn Lindgren Theater
1501 NW 15th Court
Boca Raton, Florida
Food sponsored by Benny’s on the Beach
Brought to you by the AP Capstone Program at BRHS
FREE Event, open to the public
Let us know if you’re thinking about coming!! Please RSVP by Wednesday, April 13th.
To sign up, please visit this link:
What is S.L.I.C.E.?
The School of Leadership, Innovation, Creativity, & Entrepreneurship (S.L.I.C.E.) is just the blend of school (program), think tank, and start-up incubator that Palm Beach County needs. At S.L.I.C.E., it is our vision to unite entrepreneurial experts from around the world with a focus on innovation leadership. Students and mentors complete real-world projects that have the potential to reshape the local landscape, while developing networks and sharpening the skills necessary to compete in a globalized market. By applying theories in practical situations, S.L.I.C.E. students see that their work has genuine value.
At S.L.I.CE., students no longer merely consume content; they create it themselves.
And while we know change is not always easy, we know that it is necessary, especially when it comes to education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only about half of those who graduate are actually college and career ready. It is crucial that we better align learning with the real world our students will eventually be responsible for, which is what the S.L.I.C.E. curriculum aims to do. Our visionary approach will be preparing students for jobs that do not yet exist.
What is the XQ America Challenge?
Part of our journey involves our participation in the XQ Super School Project. This challenge–spearheaded by Lauren Powell Jobs, philanthropist and late wife of Steve Jobs– is an open call to rethink high school education in America. The project will provide the winning teams with expert support and funds totaling over $50 million over five years to make their “Super School” concept a reality. If S.L.I.CE. wins this challenge, we will be breaking dirt or rebuilding bricks right here in Palm Beach County, so we’re counting on you to share your thoughts of what education should be because it is our collective imagination that will truly make change possible.
Why Most Likely to Succeed?
Our viewing of Most Likely To Succeed is the perfect access point to this kind of discussion. It offers a smart and engaging look at education in the 21st century society, exposing the true potential young learners have if we let them lead. Get ready for an inspiring glimpse at what our school system could look like if we embrace a much-needed movement for change.
The paradigm is shifting…will we shift with it?
Together, we can continue to transform our local community and the nation at large by rebuilding our schools to inspire new possibilities, but we can’t do it without YOU. Therefore, we’re calling on all parents, teachers, students, administrators, future teachers, college professors, local business owners, CEO’s, yoga instructors and enthusiasts, policy makers, designers, architects, artists, neighbors, friends, CITIZENS of PBC…
JOIN US as we rethink high school education in Palm Beach County and in America.
Please share this FLIER with anyone you know who might be interested in this event! We can’t wait to collaborate with you.
Yours in Education,
The School of Leadership, Innovation, Creativity, & Entrepreneurship (S.L.I.C.E.)
Core S.L.I.C.E. Squad:
Todd LaVogue, Simon Behan, Petro Andreadis, Wes Logsdon, Jill Pavich, Jessica Murray, Marybeth Bauer, Mary Wilson
Now issuing your summer homework…TAKE NOTES!
This won’t require too much effort while you’re soaking up the summer sun, but you’ll be glad you did it when that first week back rolls around…
The ‘Summer Sizzle’ activity is a simple, unintimidating way to immerse students in the real world events that General Paper pursues. Keep a log of this summer’s big headlines, then apply them to the activity linked below:
Hot Seat ‘Summer Sizzle’: Instructions/Activity Overview
Hot Seat ‘Summer Sizzle’ SAMPLE Headlines List from 2013: Sample List of Headlines (2013)
Want more guidance on how to run the Sizzle? Check this previous post…lots of advice on ways to organize groups, approach questioning, spark discussion, etc…
This is lots of fun to assign for a Friday, and it gives students the chance to be conversational with you about the news…encourage them to be curious! The GP experience is all about inquiry, so remind them that they aren’t expected to ‘know-it-all’ and that ‘General’ Paper certainly doesn’t expect that of them either. Instead of just spitting out facts like an Internet clone, students should allow their general understanding of the issue to lead them to new questions; by the time they’ve satiated their need for answers, they should arrive at their own conclusions about the issue and its situation in the world.
INQUIRE –> RESEARCH –> DISCUSS –> QUESTION –> THINK CRITICALLY –> DETERMINE JUDGMENT
Perhaps as the teacher, you have a few questions of your own. Take this opportunity to show students how to pursue these curious moments responsibly. Just a couple of talking points to stimulate discussion:
- Where might we go for answers?
- What does it mean to corroborate that information?
- How do we read for information versus reading for analysis, etc.?
- Where do we find and how do we identify primary versus secondary information in an article?
- How do we take what we’ve read and put it into our own words?
PAVICH’S WORKING LIST FOR THE ‘SUMMER SIZZLE’…
- Santa Barbara oil spill (May)
- Boston bomber verdict (May)
- Charleston church shooting in SC
- Maximum security prison break chase and capture in NY
- Confederate flag controversy
- Terrorist attacks in Tunisia (also France, Kuwait)
- Same-sex marriage legal nationwide
- Nuclear talks with Iran
Best of luck preparing your list. Share your ideas on The Global Pen’s Facebook page by responding to this post there!
Yours In Collaboration,
Jill Pavich, NBCT
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 😉
Interested in attending Cambridge’s “Best Practices” workshop this summer? Great news…I’m facilitating a two-day workshop for AICE: General Paper 8004!
If you are interested in learning more about this awesome opportunity in June 2014, CLICK HERE!!!!!!
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!
Concerned about the Lies Your History Teacher Told You?!
The plight of Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent struggle are not some of them…
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Birmingham Church Bombing in Alabama, 1963. During this extremist act, four innocent girls and two boys were killed during the bombing of a church known for housing members of the Civil Rights Movement.
Hauntingly enough, President Barack Obama addressed the American people this week regarding a possible strike on the Syrian government for unleashing chemical weapons on its people, a tragic event that also snatched the lives of innocent women and children for no reason other than perverting power.
No matter the time, no matter the circumstance: ONE life lost is one too many…
But nevertheless, here we are. Collectively pondering the value of life as members of a global society are sacrificed in both the past and present.
I dedicate today’s post to the many innocent lives that have been lost in the name of DEMOCRACY & FREEDOM or the lack thereof.
Lesson Plan Inspired As a Result?
While students view the clip, ask them to complete the following handout as a source of notes…
- “Daring to Dream” Companion Handout
If you are a member of the Upfront community, I challenge you to make the teaching world a better place…just as MLK did for social rights, do so for educational progress…how can YOU leave your MARK? What will YOU contribute to your legacy?
Scour the MEDIA world; find a valuable–perhaps timeless—CLIP (so we can use it year after year!) and develop a HANDOUT to correspond!
Several colleagues have expressed interest in contributing to the GP curriculum. Here’s your chance! ANY professional can do this. You don’t need to be a ‘seasoned’ (whatever that means) GP teacher to contribute!
Let’s collaborate by adding to this bank of timeless, valuable materials-in-the-making!
EMAIL YOUR SHARABLE MATERIALS to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll showcase them in a post dedicated to YOU, and your HARD WORK!!
SHARE…I double-dog DARE you 😉
Lots of curiosity about ordering exam essays/feedback from Cambridge for teacher use, so thank you for inspiring today’s post! Here’s the information I gathered to share with you, thanks to the help of a few of my favorite, super-AICE Coordinators (thanks, Amber and Kelly @ Jupiter High!). Feel free to pass this information along to your school’s AICE Coordinator.
It looks like you can order essays by accessing the CIE Website, then logging in to the CIE Direct tab in the top, right corner drop-down menu. ONLY Test Coordinators can log in and order materials here, though. Once logged in, Coordinators should go to SUPPORT MATERIALS, then RESULTS. They will need to fill out an interactive PDF form to tell them which essays they’d like returned with feedback.
The deadline for requesting such feedback from the May/June administration is SEPTEMBER 30th.
From what I understand, it can be pretty pricy to order these, so Coordinators will need to chat budget with administration. But they are really worth it! As English teachers, we know how valuable tailored feedback is in promoting improvement!
Perhaps we could COLLABORATE and share these materials with one another in a workshop or in an informal meeting? I’d be happy to throw it together, so just let me know what we can organize as a group. I’m also interested in piloting some kind of scoring system for us all to use to make the process similar across the board, and user-friendly for classroom essays! If any of this sounds interesting, ‘Talk to Me,’ by dropping a comment down below!
In the meantime, here’s some further information that may prove helpful in getting you and your Testing Coordinator pointed in the right direction for ordering:
How should I apply for an enquiry about results?
Enquiries about Examination Results Forms can be downloaded from the Support Materials section of CIE Direct. These forms should be completed and signed by the Head of Centre. The forms should be submitted to Cambridge from the school or, in the case of an Associate School, via the Cambridge Associate, within the stated deadlines below.
Schools are required to submit requests for enquiries about examination results by the following dates:
May/June – 30 September
October/November – 26 February
What fees apply to Enquiries About Results?
For details of the fees that apply to Enquiries About Results please refer to the Fees List in the messages section of your CIE Direct account.
How long does it take to process an Enquiry About Results?
We will deal with enquiries in the order in which we receive them. We cannot guarantee the date by which we will process enquiries, however, we will make every effort to communicate the outcome as quickly as possible, and whenever possible, within 30 days of receiving your enquiry.
It is essential that schools contact Cambridge if an acknowledgement letter is not received within two weeks of submitting the enquiry.
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!