With five days left in the year, we participated in a discussion strategy we really like, a Pro Se Court. Over the last two weeks, we read and annotated four articles about zoos, their benefits and their challenges. Students were then divided into three groups. A third were the plaintiffs, a third as defendants, and a third as our judges.
Students didn’t know which role they would be assigned which is important insofar as understanding perspective taking. That said, our seven judges ruled 6-1 in favor of our plaintiffs who argued zoos are bad.
We maximized opportunities to work with a lot of content before tracking off for our spring break. We did a “Quiz-Quiz-Trade” around perimeter, read bout Juan Ponce de León and European exploration of North America, used Writable to refine our understanding of introductions, applied for new classroom jobs and introduced the prefix “anit-.” We also completed several Quizizz’s to refine a few skills. All-in-all, really impressive for a day that is traditionally hard to keep kids engaged.
Can too much screen time get in the way of friendships? Or does playing games and being online create friendships? This was the focus of our Philosophical Chairs Discussion (PCD).
We spent two days reading and annotating a text around the topic. We then used the PCD protocol. Specifically, students divided themselves into groups who believed screen time got in the way of friendships, students who disagreed with this, and classmates who were neutral. As students presented their arguments, they could move from one group to another based on how persuaded they were.
Our first Pro Se Court was a success. A Pro Se Court has students acting as plaintiffs, defendants and judges. In this case, a third of the class had to argue about the cons of zoos, the plaintiffs. A third of the class outlined the pros, the defendants; and the rest of the students acted as judges.
We spent part of the week reading about the pros and cons of zoos from four different perspectives. We annotated text and highlighted the most relevant evidence from each text. This is what allowed all students to be prepared for our Pro Se Court.
We had seven different judges and they ruled 5 to 2 in favor of the defendants.
I am not entirely sure how far back the Great American Day tradition goes but it was fun to continue what Mrs. Dunn, who retired last year, firmly established. Students picked a Great American and spent the last eight weeks researching the person. This was turned into a full report and then synthesized into a one-minute speech the students shared with the Roy Gomm community.
The weather cooperated and we were able to complete our visit to Donner Memorial State Park. The day included a walk around the park, a scavenger hunt in the museum, a short film and lunch on the grounds.
We used a sample Smarter Balanced Test item to get ready for a persuasive essay on service animals. We read through three texts, annotated for evidence and then rehearsed for our writing using a Fishbowl.
In a Fishbowl, students sit in a circle with several students in the middle. Participants share ideas around a topic and if someone in the middle needs help or has run out of ideas, they will replace themselves with someone from the outside.