Catalog of Lessons by Subject > English > Collaboration

Catalog of Lessons by Subject > English > Collaboration 2017-10-05T01:53:13+00:00
View Lessons by Subject > English > Collaboration
One of my most successful experiences with my 9th grade English students was during our cumulative assessment at the end of our study of the play Medea. Instead of having the girls write a paper, they were, at the beginning of the unit, assigned to either the prosecution or defense of Medea.Throughout our reading, the girls were to make note of any textual evidence in the play, as well as their history textbooks and several other provided outside sources, that could be used in a debate that would take place at the end of the unit. The prosecution had to prove that Medea should be held accountable for murdering the king, the princess, and her two children, while the defense had to argue that outside forces from society, ancient Greek culture, the gods, and her ex-husband all led her to murder. After we finished reading the play, the girls had two class days in which to collaborate with their team members (groups of six), and construct a case that included an opening statement, three contentions (backed up with textual evidence from any of the aforementioned sources), and a closing statement. They also had to prepare counterarguments in anticipation of the points that their opposing team would bring up. The girls worked diligently to prepare for the debate, but almost all of them were terrified at the prospect of actually standing up and arguing the case, especially when I told them that there would be a panel of "celebrity judges" (other teachers from the school). I was also going to record the debate for grading purposes, and so they had access to it while writing a required reflection afterwards. The day of the debate, the girls were so nervous, but once we began, both sides argued articulately, with poise and impressive rhetoric, and every point was backed up with substantial evidence from a variety of sources. At the completion of the debate, both teams let out a huge cheer of relief and pride. The judges collaborated and a winner was announced, but all of the girls had such overwhelming feelings after the debate that they couldn't stop smiling or talking about their success. The other teachers who had judged gave them feedback, complimenting their engagement with the text, thorough preparation, and presentation skills.