Monday, November 5, 2012

If Only Our Politicians Could Debate Like Our 8th Graders :)

Mr. Girard and Mr. Gilbert developed a special election unit for the 8th grade social studies curriculum. The 8th graders not only studied previous US elections but also worked to prepare for their own presidential debate. Instead of just having our ACDS students work in teams for the debate, Mr. Girard and Mr. Gilbert worked with the Capital Hill Day School (CHDS) to match up CHDS students with our 8th graders. This virtual collaboration effort using a wiki (a collaborative website) for documentation and resource sharing helped the students from both schools as they shared their research and developed their debate points using the online workspace. 

The teams were assigned to the following topics that they were tasked to research and build the stance for each presidential candidate. 

  • Job Growth
  • Healthcare
  • National Debt
  • Education
  • Taxes
  • Immigration
  • Energy and Environment
  • Voter ID Laws

Our ACDS students used a listing of websites provided through our Haiku online learning tool to do their research. Each student's initial research was recorded using Noodle Tools. Noodle Tools is an online citation and digital note card research tool that the students at ACDS use for their research. The debate teams then used the wiki to develop their debate plans with their CHDS partners.

The debate took place last week with the CHDS arriving ready to meet face to face for the first time with their ACDS partners. The teams were given time to get to know each other better and to finalize their plans before entering the Performance Arts Center (PAC) to start the debate. Each team by their topic then opposed their opposite political party team to debate using the following structure.



Mr. Girard noted after the debates that the ACDS and CHDS students probably gave more details and offered more depth of information than in the real presidential debates.


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