It's Debatable

Created By:
Debra Kay Logan
Librarian/Media Specialist
Organization/School Name:
Mount Gilead EVSD

Grade Level:
Type of Lesson:
Lesson in a unit
Type of Schedule:
Collaboration Continuum:
Content Area:
Social studies
Content Topic:
Connect historical events and issues to the present i.e. child labor, genocide, unionism, etc.
Standards for the 21st-Century Learner
Skills Indicator(s):
1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.
3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners.
3.1.6 Use information and technology ethically and responsibly.
Dispostion Indicator(s):
1.2.4 Maintain a critical stance by questioning the validity and accuracy of all information.
3.2.2 Show social responsibility by participating actively with others in learning situations and by contributing questions and ideas during group discussions.
Responsibilities Indicator(s):
2.3.2 Consider diverse and global perspectives in drawing conclusions.
Self-Assessment Strategies Indicator(s):
1.4.3 Monitor gathered information, and assess for gaps or weaknesses.
3.4.3 Assess own ability to work with others in a group setting by evaluating varied roles, leadership, and demonstrations of respect for other viewpoints.
The eighth grade social studies teacher approaches the SL about developing a research-based debate project to help students make connections between historical issues such as child labor with current issues in the modern world. This unit addresses how history relates to modern issues meeting social studies standards and district curricula. The teacher and the SL discuss that developmentally many eighth graders are transitioning between concrete operations and abstract thinking. The SL suggests introducing students to print and online resources that present current and historical issues showing diverse viewpoints. Note taking guides/organizers are selected for the project. (The teacher found a note taking organizer from another source.) During a series of planning sessions it is decided that the teacher is to introduce the debate project, debate basics/procedures and assign debate groups. The SL is to review basic research skills; to introduce the eighth graders to the school’s viewpoints database(s) and the ebook collection; and to provide with a brief lesson on verbally citing sources in the context of the debate. As the students are researching, the SL is responsible for a daily formative assessment of students’ research processes. The teachers schedule a time for a post project evaluation

Eighth graders will be able to articulate connections between selected historical and current issues. Students will be able to explain at least two sides of an issue. This lesson is designed to help students answer two essential questions. Is history relevant to modern issues? Do issues have clear wrongs and rights?

Final Product:
Each student will participate as a team member in a debate of their respective issues. Students will submit a works cited document at the time of their debate.

Library Lesson:
Students will learn to access, use and cite information from the ebook collection and the controversial issues database(s). The introductory lesson will conclude with a brief review of basic research process skills such as recording the source of each fact noted. On the students' last day in the library, there is a brief lesson on verbally acknowledging sources during the course of the debate.

Estimated Lesson Time:
30 minutes
The teacher grades the debate using a rubric. The rubric addresses content (complete, accurate, germane, etc.) and the debate process. The SL uses a rubric to assess bibliographies/works cited. The rubric has three sections. The first is on the format (spacing, alphabetizing, etc.) of the works cited. The second section is used to provide feedback on the punctuation. The final section of the rubric notes any missing content (titles, authors, etc.)

The SL uses a check list to access research process each day students work in the library. The SL provides students feedback on their note taking and on collecting the information to cite sources. This is a formative assessment. Students are given specific feedback each day and are given time to improve practice and consequently receive any missed points before the end of the period.

Self Questioning:
Students write a self-reflection piece or survey on the process and product at the end of the project. How did I use my time? Did I have enough information? Was my information relevant? What should I continue to do on my next research process and what should I change?

Instructional Plan
Resources students will use:
Dataset (ie. lists, tables, databases)
Event (ie. exhibition, webcast, conference, workshop, performance)
Text (books, letters, poems, newspapers, etc.)

Resources instructor will use:
White board

Direct instruction:
Students sit with the other members of their respective debate teams upon coming into the library. The SL refers to past lessons on the subject of bias, while introducing print resources that provide divergent viewpoints on controversial issues. The projector and a laptop are used to introduce students to state and issues databases and their built-in citation tools. Students are also taught how to access resources in the ebook library.

Modeling and guided practice:
The SL briefly reminds students of note taking skills and how to track sources of information using samples on the dry erase or smart board. Students are also reminded that they need to record sources for their bibliographies. The SL checks notes, tracking and bibliography process while students work. Samples of past student work are used to help students improve their practice, as needed. If additional guidance is needed, the SL conferences with students about their research process. The SL models acknowledging sources verbally. After each debate, there is a discussion on which side "wins" and the strength of the arguments. The then teacher leads a discussion on the connections between history and current issues.

Independent practice:
Students access, evaluate information for relevance and for bias. Students differentiate between facts and opinions. Students record relevant information in an ethical manner, accurately recording bibliographic information and tracking the original source for each fact. During the debate, students verbally present documented and accurate information to support one side of an issue. Students will submit a works cited document at the time of their debate.

Have you taught this lesson before:

Strategies for differentiation:
Two different note taking organizers are used for the project. The original version was found by the collaborating teacher. It scaffolds looking for the main idea and then identifies supporting ideas. A simplified version based on the original is made available as appropriate. A modified version of citation tools is available as needed. Since this is a collaborative learning activity, groups can be stacked to accommodate student learning needs. More or less challenging topics are assigned as appropriate. A variation on this unit is to emphasize a essential question focus. Students develop their own essential questions to drive their research process. This can be done on an individual or group basis.