Pro Se Court: Zoos

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.

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The Day Before Spring Break

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.

Philosophical Chairs Discussion

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.

 

 

 

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.

B.B.Wolf Wins: Our Visit to Judge Pearson’s Courtroom

Thank you to all the families who were able to join us for Kids Court. The day involved meeting Judge Scott Pearson, putting on a mock trial, and learning more about the Washoe County jails and judicial process.

Certainly, the highlight was the trial and ultimately B.B. Wolf was awarded the $3100 in damages he was seeking.

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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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