It’s wintery and cold, I’m nowhere near New Orleans, and my French (to my Quebecois grandmother’s utter dismay) is totally rubbish. That didn’t stop me from wearing gold, green, and purple and shouting about Mardi Gras this morning. I’m Catholic, so it is a thing I observe, and my glee about it amused my students.
APUSGOV started with a bit more Court Madness. One of the matches was between two really nervous students, and they both had to take a moment to calm themselves down before starting- and again during their arguments- but they didn’t give up. I was so proud of them for how well they did, and how encouraging their classmates were of them. It was an uplifting way to start the day. We finished class with a bit of The West Wing– ”Six Meetings Before Lunch,” and a discussion of one of the episode’s themes: race relations in America. It’s a preview for some of the lessons in the upcoming unit.
If you’re thinking I’m going a bit slowly through the Court Madness stuff, and dragging out the transition into next unit, you’re right; it’s because it’s the winter sports post-season, so I routinely have 6-10 students absent (skiers), and I’d rather not have that many kids playing catch-up when I can just relax the pace a bit instead. It’s March, and it’s been a rough year, so I figure everyone could use the break. I’ve explained my logic to my students, so they’re aware of my thought processes and have been assured that I still know when the AP exam is and can prepare them in plenty of time.
And they’re not the only ones doing debates; the ninth graders are getting into some now, too! Mrs. T and I re-opened the wall between our classrooms for The Big Middle East Debate. We let students choose their own groups this year, which we hadn’t done in the past, but I think it’s going to work out well. I still assigned the topics and the affirmatives/negatives at random after explaining that it’s a skill to be able to argue a point based off of research, not necessarily one’s personal feelings on an issue.
The debates all relate to the things I spent the last few weeks teaching about in World, so students are coming in with some background knowledge and will now be diving deeper:
- Should the US keep troops in Syria?
- Should the US continue to assist the Saudi coalition in the war in Yemen?
- Should the Palestinians have their own country?
- Should the US increase the number of refugees it grants asylum to each year?
Mrs. T and I were both pleased with the research we saw the various groups compiling during the double block. It’s definitely solid work. I think she was especially glad to see it because she just wrapped up argument writing, and a lot of students did not conduct research as well as they could have- mostly, they used their time inefficiently- so maybe they learned from the mistakes they made with that.
My department had a meeting this afternoon, and much of it was spent discussing what an awful year of Very Bad Things it’s been. But I think we’re all hanging in there, and moving forward… And spring is coming… And maybe we’re going to end on a positive note.