Unit Outline and Goals

For the overarching concept for this unit, I am focusing on “Learning a Key Strategy:” the strategy of argumentation through debate. As sophomores in high school, my students are approaching adulthood and are crafting their own unique identities and perspectives. Many have very strong feelings and opinions about different topics, and love to engage in discussion. The goal for this unit is to teach students the art and craft of argumentation—how to present their ideas in a well-informed, logical, respectful way. This unit is important because each student needs to understand how to, differentiate between credible and unsupported information, and understand the logic and structure behind persuasive/ argumentative writing and speaking. Regardless of where life takes them, these students will be interact with people and information all their lives, information that will contradict their own perspectives and people that will try to manipulate, persuade, or argue for and against the thoughts and feelings of these students. They need to be able to identify when this is happening, so as to be sure to respond to explicit and implicit messages in a way that is consistent with what they truly believe or intend. The goals for this unit are 1. to consider different perspectives/points of view and 2. to develop a well-reasoned and supported argument.

The justification for these goals and for teaching debate as a key strategy fosters higher-level thinking skills and is justified by a focus on “Civic Awareness.” Debate emphasizes important real-world skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, independent research and teamwork. Additionally, debate requires the development and practice of higher level thinking according to Bloom’s taxonomy as described in Effective Teaching Methods: analysis (requiring students to differentiate between credible sources, compare and contrast, recognize and support relationships between ideas and outline arguments), synthesis (requiring students to compile information from a variety of sources to form a unique solution to a problem or question, to formulate a logical and well-supported argument, and to predict and compose counterarguments) and evaluation (requiring students to assess the credibility of source material, judge the credibility of an argument based on specific criteria, defend and support their position on a topic or issue) (Borich, 2007, pp. 92-96). These skills not only contribute to the success of students within the classroom, but also in their future workplaces, in their social and political lives and in their responsibilities as citizens of democratic societies.

The development of these individual skills impacts the larger society by allowing individuals the opportunity to actively engage in a “more equitable, democratic, and dynamic society”—key justifications of a unit centered on developing civic awareness and navigating difficult social issues according to Smagorinsky, author of Teaching English by Design (Smagorinsky, 2008, p. 143). A debater must consider and study both sides of an argument of question. IDEA suggests that in this way, debate inherently “teaches the principles of tolerance, nonviolence and respect for different points of view.” Training in open-mindedness and the patient and purposeful consideration of varying perspectives is essential to developing well-informed opinions and views. In Carroll Lahman’s Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches, she quotes John Stuart Mill commenting on the process of developing informed judgments about crucial issues: “No man [or woman] understands his [or her] own side until he [or she] understands the other side” (1930, pg. 13). Debating fosters an energetic exchange of ideas and has the power to “break down national, economic, cultural and ethnic boundaries, showing that opposing views can be explored in a way that connects rather than divides people” (IDEA). Teaching debate is a worthwhile focus for a conceptual unit because the framework and skills developed extend far beyond the classroom experience, contributing to the development of responsible, respectful and reasoned individuals.

Unit Goal Assessments:

IN-Process Texts/Activities:

• Pro/Con Packet and Cornell Notes : Students are required to gather at least 10 articles as research for their debate. For the first four articles (2 pro and 2 con), students must complete a series of questions evaluating the credibility of each source. This in-process activity is meant to train students to critically evaluate sources before they do the majority of their research. For the remaining 6+ articles that students gather, they will incorporate their learning about the credibility of sources and build on that knowledge by practicing Cornell style note taking in preparation to synthesize these sources to produce the outline for their debate.

* I will read through the pro/con packets and respond to students regarding areas of strength and weakness. Packets are graded according to a check plus, check, check minus, check minus minus scale. I will also grade the Cornell Notes according to this scale and provide students with feedback.

• -Speech Outline: Students will draft an outline of their speech. This activity is used to scaffold the rough draft of the debate. The goal is to ensure that all students include the necessary elements of argumentation and debate.

*Students will work in groups of two and peer-edit another classmate’s outline according to handout with questions on one side and a rubric aligned with Common Core.

Culminating Texts and Activities:

• Rough draft of debate: Students will complete a rough draft of their debate speech including all the necessary elements and based on the outlines they have already completed. This will be a fleshed out version and the last opportunity for feedback before the final culminating activity.

* I will review the rough drafts and respond with comments so as to continue to support and aid students in refining their debates before the deliver their speeches in front of the class. I will provide feedback based on the Debate Rubric/Score Sheet that will be used to assess the culminating activity—the performance of the debate.

• Debate: Students will complete a final draft and participate in a debate—two teams of two arguing opposite sides of a controversial issue/topic.

*I will evaluate the debates as they are performed in accordance with the Debate Rubric/Score Sheet also used to assess the debate drafts.

This learning we will be facilitated and guided by three Common Core State Standards regarding research and evidence for supporting claims (pro/con packets & Cornell Notes), synthesizing multiple sources to formulate a stance or opinion on a topic or question (outline/rough draft), and finally, presenting that information, supported by evidence in a logical format suitable for a particular audience and purpose (debate): CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).

While the process of researching and developing a well-informed opinion on any topic is clearly valuable, some worry that debate teaches students to be argumentative or combative when they disagree with one another. While this is a legitimate concern, the purpose of debate is to teach students how to think (rather than argue), how to analyze information and logically process and articulately present that information. While students will defend different positions on a topic, in order to defend their position, they must first consider and have researched the opposing view. This process shows students the ineffectiveness of blind argumentation and teaches students that in order to formulate a reasoned understanding or opinion requires considering and analyzing different perspectives. It is inevitable that students will interact with people who think, act and feel differently than they do and in preparation, it is vitally important that we equip students with a tools and skills so that they can interact in meaningful, respectful, well-reasoned, constructive exchanges. Without active engagement with whom we disagree, it is likely that elements of truth remain uncovered, as explained by Mahatma Ghandi: “honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress” (IDEA).

Resources:

Borich, G. D. (2007). Effective teaching methods: research-based practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall.

IDEA. “WHY DEBATE?” International Debate Education Association. 2011. Web. Idebate.org

Lahman, Carroll Polock. “Chapter I WHY DEBATE?” Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches. Vol. I. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1930. 11-17. Print. IV.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards (English Language Arts). National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C. Web. http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards

Smagorinsky, P. (2008). Teaching English by design: how to create and carry out instructional units. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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Hope Reflection

O2—Offer appropriate challenge in the content area [1]. My understanding of offering an appropriately challenging curriculum includes providing units and lessons that present students with opportunities to develop and practice authentic, higher-level thinking skills. According to Bloom, cognitive complexity is arranged according to a hierarchical structure where evaluation and synthesis require more complex mental operations such as formulating or composing an argument, making judgments about the validity of a source, or supporting and defending a position on a topic than the rote memorization of facts or mere comprehension of a concept (Borich, 2007, p. 92-96) [2]. As part of my internship, I have created a course rationale that explains why the debate unit I have designed is not only cognitively complex and academically challenging, but also socially responsible.

My rationale claims that the preparation and practice of debate requires the use of higher level thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation, and has far-reaching social implications by teaching students about their roles as citizens of a democratic society, such as requiring that students research and understand both sides of an argument before they are able to debate. John Dewey considered the school a primarily social institution, a concentrated form of community life, a vessel for social progress and knowledge created in a community centered on unity and individual accountability (Dewey, 1897, p.2) [2]. A debate unit provides students the opportunity to construct new knowledge in community, with partners and in teams, while also cultivating a respectful, open-minded environment where students are accountable and must logically and articulately defend the opinions they possess, but also an environment where differences of opinion is accepted, and learning is constructed by thoughtfully considering both sides.

Figure 1 shows a screenshot of my course rationale and explains the ways in which this unit on debate will push students to practice the more advanced and challenging critical thinking skills from Bloom’s taxonomy while engaging in authentic, meaningful activities that will better prepare them to participate as socially responsible and informed members of a democratic society.

Figure 1:Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 7.04.05 PM

This figure shows evidence that I have learned how to plan challenging curriculum by designing activities and instruction that promote higher level learning behaviors [3]. For example, students will practice evaluation as students “assess the credibility of source material, judge the credibility of an argument based on specific criteria, and defend and support their position on a topic or issue” [3]. In creating this evidence, I was reminded of the importance of planning units and lessons that are not only relevant but also appropriately challenging for my students. Additionally, this activity was beneficial because I had never written a course rational before and after doing so, I recognize the importance of planning in such a way that I am able to articulate and defend my reasoning and purpose for teaching any given lesson or unit [4]. I must always be metacognitive and reflective in my thinking about my teaching choices and techniques—this is a way of doing so, before I teach. This assignment is a key exercise and way of self-assessment, ensuring that in the future, I continue to plan lessons and units purposefully in order to provide a justified and challenging curriculum for my students [5].

Next steps I can continue to take might include taking the time to write a rationale for each unit of study I choose to teach. While I recognize that this may be a time consuming “extra” step, I need to maintain metacognitive practices throughout my teaching career and I want to be able to justify my teaching with evidence-based practices, theories and state standards without a second thought; consequently, increasing my effectiveness in providing a relevant and challenging curriculum may include writing rationales for each unit I choose to teach [6].

Resources:

Borich, G. D. (2007). Effective teaching methods: research-based practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall.

Dewey, J. (1897). “My Pedagogic Creed,” The School Journal, 54, (3), pp. 77-80.

Why Teach a Unit on Debate?

Thesis: According to the International Debate Education Association, the process of debate offers profoundly far-reaching and long-lasting benefits for individuals, societies and for the global community.
Debate emphasizes important real-world skills such as critical thinking, effective communication, independent research and teamwork. Additionally, debate requires the development and practice of higher level thinking according to Bloom’s taxonomy as described in Effective Teaching Methods: analysis (requiring students to differentiate between credible sources, compare and contrast, recognize and support relationships between ideas and outline arguments), synthesis (requiring students to compile information from a variety of sources to form a unique solution to a problem or question, to formulate a logical and well-supported argument, and to predict and compose counterarguments) and evaluation (requiring students to judge the credibility of an argument based on specific criteria, defend and support their position on a topic or issue) (Borich, 2007, pp. 92-96). These skills not only contribute to the success of students within the classroom, but also in their future workplaces, in their social and political lives and in their responsibilities as citizens of democratic societies.

The development of these individual skills impacts the larger society by allowing individuals the opportunity to actively engage in a “more equitable, democratic, and dynamic society”—key justifications of a unit centered on developing civic awareness and navigating difficult social issues according to Smagorinsky, author of Teaching English by Design (Smagorinsky, 2008, p. 143). A debater must consider and study both sides of an argument of question. IDEA suggests that in this way, debate inherently “teaches the principles of tolerance, nonviolence and respect for different points of view.” Training in open-mindedness and the patient and purposeful consideration of varying perspectives is essential to developing well-informed opinions and views. In Carroll Lahman’s Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches, she quotes John Stuart Mill commenting on the process of developing informed judgments about crucial issues: “No man [or woman] understands his [or her] own side until he [or she] understands the other side” (1930, pg. 13). Debating fosters an energetic exchange of ideas and has the power to “break down national, economic, cultural and ethnic boundaries, showing that opposing views can be explored in a way that connects rather than divides people” (IDEA). Teaching debate is a worthwhile focus for a conceptual unit because the framework and skills developed extend far beyond the classroom experience, contributing to the development of responsible, respectful and reasoned individuals.

This learning we will be facilitated and guided by three Common Core State Standards regarding research and evidence for supporting claims, synthesizing multiple sources to formulate a stance or opinion on a topic or question, and finally, presenting that information, supported by evidence in a logical format suitable for a particular audience and purpose: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.9-10.8, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).

While the process of researching and developing a well-informed opinion on any topic is clearly valuable, some worry that debate teaches students to be argumentative or combative when they disagree with one another. While this is a legitimate concern, the purpose of debate is to teach students how to think (rather than argue), how to analyze information and logically process and articulately present that information. While students will defend different positions on a topic, in order to defend their position, they must first consider and have researched the opposing view. This process shows students the ineffectiveness of blind argumentation and teaches students that in order to formulate a reasoned understanding or opinion requires considering and analyzing different perspectives. It is inevitable that students will interact with people who think, act and feel differently than they do and in preparation, it is vitally important that we equip students with a tools and skills so that they can interact in meaningful, respectful, well-reasoned, constructive exchanges. Without active engagement with whom we disagree, it is likely that elements of truth remain uncovered, as explained by Mahatma Ghandi: “honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress” (IDEA).

Bibliography

Resources for Rationale:

Borich, G. D. (2007). Effective teaching methods: research-based practice (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Merrill/Prentice Hall.

IDEA. “WHY DEBATE?” International Debate Education Association. 2011. Web. Idebate.org

Lahman, Carroll Polock. “Chapter I WHY DEBATE?” Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches. Vol. I. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1930. 11-17. Print. IV.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards (English Language Arts). National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, Washington D.C. Web. http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards

Smagorinsky, P. (2008). Teaching English by design: how to create and carry out instructional units. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Texts:

Goodner, Bruce. (2008). “Persuasive Appeals: Ethos, Logos, Pathos.” Web. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4tTugqBkJU

Lang, Oliver. “Opening Pro-Vaccine Speech” (student example)

Lahman, Carroll Polock. “Chapter I WHY DEBATE?” Debate Coaching, a Handbook for Teachers and Coaches. Vol. I. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1930. 11-17. Print. IV.

National Forensic League. (2012). “A Guide to Public Forum Debate.” 1-3. Web. http://www.nflonline.org

Obama, Barack. (2014). “State of the Union Address” Web. http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/01/29/president-obamas-2014-state-union-address

Smith, Michael. “Evidence: An Essential Element of Debate.” Ballard High School. Handout.

Storey, Kristin. (2013). “What Constitutes ‘Good’ Evidence?” Ballard High School. Handout.

Hope Reflection: https://megannallenbportfolio.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/hope-reflection/

Design for semester-long Conceptual Unit

Brief Rational: This unit was inspired following a discussion I observed at Ballard high school, during which I was flabberghasted with how many students did not understand the importance of reading—more specifically the importance of storytelling. I was struck remembering a passage I’d read in college from Silko’s Ceremony: “I will tell you something about stories . . . They aren’t just entertainment. Don’t be fooled. They are all we have, you see, all we have to fight off illness and death.” And with this quote in mind, I have created a conceptual unit with a thematic focus on storytelling and point of view. During the course of this unit, it is my hope that students discover pervasive powers of story and the unique relationship between storyteller and reader. I want students to understand the significance of both their own personal stories and voice, as well as the chorus of others who contribute to the universal human story. My hope is that students will develop deep convictions about the types of people they want to be and the types of stories they want to write.

Thematic Focus: Overarching Concept—Storytelling
• Strategy: What is the purpose of Storytelling?
• Guiding Questions:
–“Who is the speaker in each text, and how does the speaker’s perspective contribute to the way in which the story is told?” Smagorinsky pg. 47
–“To what extent is the speaker trustworthy and reliable?” Smagorinsky pg. 47
–What literary tools or elements are present in each text and how do these support the themes in each text?
–How is truth subjective? (Stylistic/Thematic content truth VS. Facts)
–What are the effects of Storytelling?

Stance: Self-determination. This self-determination stance is inspired by Jerome Bruner who writes: “We need a surer sense of what to teach to whom and how to go about teaching it in such a way that it will make those taught more effective, less alienated, and better human beings” (Bruner, 1996, p. 118). It is my goal that during our time together, through reading, writing, analysis and self-reflection, my students will develop a better sense of who they are, what their purpose is, and how they are connected and able to contribute to the people and world around them.

Unit Goals: Common Core
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

Unit Texts:
• Kindred by Octavia Butler
• The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
• Series of short stories
• Series of poems
• The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Incorporation of Grammar: I will incorporate mini grammar lesson throughout this unit as we study each text and analyze the different literary methods and devices each author employs. Additionally as students compose papers reflections throughout the course including this final literary analysis, we will examine the effectiveness of different styles and the effects of syntax and punctuation choices. Conventions, including grammar will be a focus, during the revision processes as well. If there are repeated errors throughout papers, I will address confusion with a corresponding mini lesson. If a few students continue to make significant errors, I will gather the few together and provide further direct instruction and practice.

Assessment—Literary Analysis: The purpose of this unit was to provide the opportunities and resources necessary for you to begin exploring the significance of stories. Considering the many texts and activities we have engaged with in order to better understand the purpose and power of storytelling, synthesize the meaning, purpose and effect of storytelling. In your essay, please be sure to:

-craft a clearly written (2-part) thesis identifying at least one purpose(s) of storytelling and how two authors communicate this purpose.

-analyze 4 (2 for each author) methods (literary techniques or devices) the authors employ throughout the texts in order to support what you believe to be a/the purpose of story

-properly cite sources using MLA formatting and provide commentary for each quote (at least 4)

-write at least 4 body paragraphs

-include a thoughtful and summative conclusion addressing the purpose of storytelling and how this purpose is accomplished

-adhere to conventions, grammar, spelling and punctuation

-type, use 12pt Times New Roman font and double-space

-write 4, interesting, and insightful pages

-give evidence of having written and revised at least one draft of your paper

TO Consider While Writing:
1. consider the elements of story
2. consider the reader/writer(speaker) relationship
3. consider additional purposes of storytelling—why yours matters

• In order to provide students with an understanding of how they will be evaluated, I will handout a copy of the rubric along with the prompt. As a class, we will discuss both the assessment and the evaluation criteria and I will answer any clarifying questions posed before students begin the assignment.

• The teacher should refer to the Common Core State Standards and the skills necessary to complete the final assessment to guide his or her teaching throughout the unit.

• Teacher must teach students:
o The elements of story
o Varying examples of story
o Varying perspectives on the purpose of storytelling
o Literary elements/effects or connection to purpose
o Literary techniques/effects or connection to purpose
o Syntax and grammar mini lessons
o Elements of literary analysis
o Elements of synthesis
o Elements of peer editing
o MLA formatting

• The teacher will refer to the prompt, parameters and rubric to guide his or her grading of the assessment.

• My goals for this unit began with wanting students to consider the power and purpose of storytelling. To prepare, we read a variety of novels, poems and short stories and engage in a variety of different activities that culminate with literary analysis in which a student identifies what they believe to be a significant purpose of story and synthesize evidence from at least two authors to support their claims. Goals included teaching students how to write an exploratory text analyzing a complex or multi-faceted idea, in this case, the purpose and effect of storytelling, as well as identify and examining the effectiveness of authors’ choices regarding literary devices or techniques. My writing prompt/assessment directly and clearly directs students to write a paper addressing all components.

Rubric:EDU 6361 Writing Unit Rubric–Literary Analysis-Storytelling

References:

Bruner, J.S. (1966). Some elements of discovery. In L.S. Shulman & E.R. Keislar (Eds.), Learning by discovery: A critical appraisal. Chicago: Rand McNally College Publishing Company, p. 118.

Silko, L. (2006). Ceremony. New York: Penguin Books.

Smagorinsky, Peter. (2008), Teaching English by Design: How to Create and Carry Out Instructional Units. Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann. ISBN-13: 978-0-325-00980-3. ISBN: 10:0-325-00980-5.