Using the Pro Se Court Discussion Strategy

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.

Great American Day, 2018

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.

 

Fishbowl: Service Animals

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.

Using a “Fishbowl” to Enhance our Discussions

Today we engaged in a “fishbowl” to debate the pros and cons of having classroom pets. We used materials that presented both sides of the issue and students annotated and rehearsed making claims from either perspective.

We read through three articles over the week and today we employed the instructional strategy. Students in the fishbowl debated the issue and could sub themselves out for someone on the outside who wanted to make a point.

All of this work allowed the students to complete a piece of writing on the topic. And the writing? It is pretty fabulous.

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Our Pro Se Court on Zoos

We finished our fifth week of instruction with a Pro Se Court. After spending the week reading through four different articles on the value of zoos, students were divided into three groups: petitioners, respondents, and justices. The petitioners had to argue that zoos needed to be closed, respondents had to explain the value of zoos, and justices had to weigh the evidence and the strength of the arguments. In turn, the justices had to rule in favor of either the petitioner or the respondent.

There were eight groups and the justices were split 4 to 4 on closing zoos.