Students are learning the art of collaboration and debate. In third grade students are clearly identifying an opinion and backing their thinking with at least three well supported reasons. Students are writing about topics that they feel passionate about. For example, I have received several letters from students recommending changes for our school. I have been impressed with the thought and reasoning students have demonstrated in their pieces.
Fifth grade students are taking their work a step further by researching both sides of a real-world issue prior to taking a stand. As they read a variety of nonfiction texts they are citing evidence that best supports their reasons for or against an issue. Students are exploring a wide range of topics including whether animals should be kept in zoos, which type of exploration is more relevant - space or sea, and whether water bottles are helpful or harmful.
Students engaged in a flash debate as their culminating activity. They did a great job clearly supporting their side with reasons, citing research and expert testimony, anticipating and addressing counter claims and listening and rebutting the opposing side. It was fun to watch students so engaged and passionate as they applied their learning!