Students are learning the art of persuasion and debate as they move into their opinion and argumentative literacy units. 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. See third grader, Wa Jones', essay below.
A Change For Our School
By: Wa Jones
Dr. Brown -
Have you ever noticed that students trip and fall during fire practice drills? Have you ever noticed that some kids aren't even focusing while they’re doing their work in the classroom? Wobble chairs can prevent these problems. In my opinion, we need more wobble chairs in the classroom not only for safety reasons but also to help kids focus and do their best work.
First, Wobble chairs give more space. For example if there's more space around desks students won't trip or bump into chairs during drills. If students were to be left in the building it would have been dangerous. We need more space for students to get out of the building to be safe if there were a real fire.
Another reason we need more wobble chairs in the classroom is because some students need to move while learning. There are students that learn best while moving. Wobble chairs will help them get motivated and get into a great learning zone. As our principal, you always tell us to do our best! Clearly, wobble chairs will help us do this.
Finally, we need wobble chairs in the classroom in order to focus and improve learning. Being able to move helps with focus. For example, if we move around it will help us get more energy to focus on what the teacher is teaching us. As a school we are always working to improve our learning, with wobble chairs it will help our brains grow.
As you can see, we need more wobble chairs in the classroom for safety, focusing reasons and to improve student learning.
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!