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"Flash Debates" in Seventh Grade ELA Classes

FD Students in Ms. Kiser's, Ms. Secker's, Ms. Marshall's, and Ms. Sinople's seventh grade English Language Arts Classes are working on a "Teen Research Project, which on Monday, February 3rd, included students participating in "Flash Debates." Students have independently chosen topics such as immigration, water pollution, animal rights, global warming, genetic modification of foods, social media anxiety, and others. Students were presented with topics and read articles, listened to TED talks, and viewed informational videos as a way to get a little "taste" of each topic. Students then narrowed their interests and chose their own topic for independent research. Students gathered information through consulting various resources from the Union County Research databases such as articles, e books, videos, images, and more. Students took notes, paraphrased, synthesized and created beautiful infographics for their topics. These infographics are now lining our seventh grade hallways.

Students were asked to look at all aspects of their topic to come up with their own claims, which needed to be supported with research based evidence. On Monday, February 3rd, all classes had an amazing time as they took part in "Flash Debates." Teachers would "flash display" a claim on the smart board for one of the chosen topics. Examples of some claims that were flashed include: "The morey you rely on social media for communication and conversation, the less you will be able to hold your own face to face conversation." "Water pollution does not affect other animals or their ecosystems." "The only way to help someone with emotional problems is with medication." The students who had researched the "flash topics" stood and took turns explaining whether they agreed or disagreed with the claim and would then explain why, citing research based evidence from their notes.

Kelly Kiser, seventh grade Language Arts teachers even made a point to remind students who were extroverts to give others a chance to voice their ideas and encouraged introverts to look for an opportunity to assert their ideas. Kiser asked that every student try to speak at least twice. She also had suggestions for how students should address other students when agreeing or disagreeing with their statements. I disagree with you because the sources say......

Many of the students had thought provoking responses, and it was obvious that through their research, students had become more passionate about and interested in their topics. Some students even had changed their minds about their original claims, once they consulted the research. The teen research project has been amazing to observe and even more so to see the students get excited about their topics and in being able to debate in a mature, professional way with their own research based responses!