Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Students will present their claims and conclusions with evidence from the informational texts they have read and notes that they have prepared.
- Students will write an objective summary for each nonfiction article they read as they prepare for the debate.
- Students will participate in a debate on the issue "Government Protection v. Individual Liberty" building on others ideas and expressing their own.
- Students will come to discussion having read three articles about their particular topic, drawing on those articles to make at least two comments to stimulate a thoughtful exchange of ideas.
- Students will work with peers to set rules for a collegial discussion.
- Students will propel conversations by responding to questions that relate to the current discussion and broader themes or larger ideas.
- Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement and, qualify or justify their own views and understanding.
- During the debate, students will present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Before beginning this lesson, students should know:
- How to work in collaborative groups
- How to conduct basic searches using Web tools like Google
- The basic structure and procedure of debates
- How to integrate and cite source material
*Students may not know about warrants, therefore, an explanation is included on the bell ringer handout.
*Students may not know what "collegial" means, as such, a definition is provided on the "Rules for Collegial Discussions handout".
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- Should a government ever limit its people's freedom in order to protect them?
- When is it more important for people to be free than for them to be protected by their own government?
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
Before you begin- think of which students you would like to see working together in a group- perhaps you want struggling students intermixed with advanced students, or because of the nature of this debate, perhaps you want outgoing students paired up with shy students. Divide those students into groups and make a list of group 1, group 2 and group 3- with group one corresponding to topic #1, group #2 to topic #2 and group #3 to topic #3. You can split them into yea and nay, but do not tell students if they are on the yea or nay side of the topic until the day of the debate so that they will research opinions from both sides. Topics and directions for students are provided in this handout.
The "Hook" and Activation of Prior Knowledge
- Start off this lesson by giving students the bell ringer on warrants. You can print out these sheets, cut them in half and give them to students.
- Read the background information presented and the instructions for the survey and give students three or four minutes to fill them out.
- Give students a forewarning that they should not include examples of times in which the police have been involved in their lives or the lives of their families and/or friends. Meaningful anecdotes from TV, movies, or their reading will suffice, but this is not the appropriate setting to share family secrets or gossip.
- Go through the questions and ask students to hold up the number that they put for each question.
- Ask the students if they have particularly strong feelings about the questions and if they would like to comment on their reaction to the questions.
- From here, the teacher can move on to Introducing/Modeling the Concept.
Introducing/Modeling the Concept or Skill
- Go on to talk about the topics at hand on the Topics For Debate sheet.
- Divide students into groups so that they know which topic they'll be researching (though they will not find out if they are arguing the yea or nay until the day of the debate).
- Discuss the purpose of this lesson: not simply to acquaint them with the topics at hand, but to help them practice engaging in a meaningful and civil discussion. Stress to students that the purpose of this exercise is not to win the debate, but to stretch themselves in their ability to defend an argument, even when it's an argument that they did not choose, and sustain a fruitful discussion.
- Pass out the Rules for Collegial Discussion handout. Guide the students through the worksheet. Call on students to help establish rules about words they should avoid saying (they should generally avoid insulting each other or calling the other side stupid), words that they should say (words or phrases like With all due respect or While I appreciate the thought that;), attitudes to avoid (again, general rudeness or a dismissive attitude towards one side, even apathy for the subjects in general), and attitudes to display (cordiality, collegiality, respect).
- As your class develops rules, have students write these down on the handout. For the most part, students should be the ones determining these rules as this is part of the standard LAFS.910.SL.1.1 subpart B. Your students may need some more direct prompting to avoid any unnecessary rudeness. Thinking about the topics at hand and the potentially heated, unhelpful talk or words that could arise from those discussions- issues of race in the stop and frisk topic or issues of obesity in the sugary drinks topic, you can either have students address those issues and decide how they should be approached or you can step in as the teacher and just decide to write down a few words that they should avoid saying, and provide words to say instead.
- From here, read from your list of who is in what group and which topic they will be discussing (one topic per group)- remember not to reveal the yeas and nays until the day of the debate.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Teacher Actions during the activity
- The teacher should discuss with students how to research for their topics. I would suggest handing out copies of the Sample Debate Handout and walking them through the instructions and examples.
[Note: The way that I went about searching for the articles that I used was pretty basic: as in, I used Google to search for my sources. You may want to use this as an opportunity to avail your students to the more sophisticated resources that you have at your school's library. It might be useful for teachers to have their school's media specialist teach a lesson on using the databases available at their school. If your district blocks Google or other specific web sources, the teacher might prepare a set of approved links for students' use, or students might search only the school library's electronic databases, or the teacher might print a set of appropriate articles for students to use. But for this sample, I wanted to use a database that all teachers would have available- plus, problematic though it may be, Google is many students primary means of research, and it may be helpful to walk through a Google search with them to discuss the steps of deciding good information from bad, biased information from objective, and when Google is an acceptable search engine for a school project verses when they should use one of those more sophisticated resources from your school's library. That being said, the next several steps will involve a Google search.]
- Have students read through the topic as presented in the "Sample Debate Handout".
- You may want to give your students access to the first sample article (Lexile 1410) provided on the "Sample Debate Handout"; then you can read through the "Summary of Sources" example #1 on the sample debate handout and have them note how thoroughly the sample addresses the questions provided.
- Pause and ask students if they have any questions about how to fill out the "Summary of Sources" after reading the first example.
- Before reading the next two samples, pose the question to your students: "When is it acceptable to use a Google search verses using an electronic database service provided by your school?" [A fair answer would be: When your teacher says it is ok. OR You should use an electronic database service for a literary criticism paper, or for any project or paper that requires academic, peer-reviewed sources.] You could also pose the question, "What are some potential problems with using a Google search?" [While I'm sure you'll get variety of answers, you should address the notion that you never know how credible the writers may be, but that articles from trusted publications are worth reading before reading random blogs or forum posts.]
- In order to walk students through how they can use "Google to research their topics for this project, bring up Google's search page on your computer and type in argument for drone strikes against Americans". It would be a good idea to conduct a test search first before demonstrating the process with students in order to know what will come up during the Google search. Talk with students about the websites that pop up. Have them guess what the top five or so are about, whether they are objective or argumentative, and, if they are argumentative, how much credibility the writers may have. Before moving on, suggest that students write down the basic format of your query: "argument [for/against] [topic]". This might be a good opportunity to also show students how to use different terms or phrases in the search engine to find different articles on the same topic.
- If you can, give your students access to the articles presented in the second (Lexile 1360) and third (Lexile 1630) examples in the "Sample Debate Handout". If it is still available, the second article from the "Sample Debate Handout" will be in the top five hits on Google's front page. Discuss why this appears to be a credible argument about the use of drones- mainly the fact that it is from The Atlantic, and that the title suggests a measured argument. You will also note that there is a hyperlink in the second article that leads to the third article- you can discuss how a citation of an opposing argument can lead to a new source.
- From here, you can pause to ask students what they could type to search for arguments or information about their topics. Type up this list on a Word or Pages document on your computer. Have students write down these key phrases. Make sure that you include the following phrases: "argument for x" "argument against x" "article about x".
- Emphasize to students that they should take good notes on both the pro and con side of their topic as they will not find out until the day of the debate which side they will be representing.
- Finally, pass out the rubric for the debate. Read the criteria for a 3 and a 5 in each category. Ask students if they have any questions about the rubric.
- Pass out the Summary of Sources sheets and read over the requirements, noting especially the requirement to ‘print out three sources with at least one from each side- yea or nay. Pause to ask students if they understand the requirements here.
- Finally, hand out the 'Debate Format' document and go over the structure of the debate. Tell students that (a) again, they will not know which side of the debate they are on until the day of the debate, so they should prepare with an open mind; (b) they will have time to meet with their partners to discuss who will talk first, second, third, etc.; (c) the purpose of this activity is not to have a big debate in which one side wins or loses, but rather, to use the structure of this debate as a structure for a guided discussion.
Student Actions during the activity
- Students will read the 'Sample Debate Handout' and ask questions when prompted.
- Share examples of phrases to type into a search engine to find articles about their topic and write down phrases to share.
- Read the rubric and ask questions when prompted.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Teacher Actions during the activity
Teachers can give students an opportunity to search for articles and fill out their Summary of Sources sheets. Students should locate and use three credible sources with at least one source from each side of the argument. Ideally, this would be done in your school's library or a computer lab- I know it's hard to arrange for library time at my school. If you are able to arrange that, the teacher can use that time to float around and answer questions students may have. If teachers do not have access to technology that will allow students to research the topics on their own using the Internet, the teacher may have to provide printed out informational articles or other resources for them to use.
For the second part of independent practice - that is, the actual debate that is the Summative Assessment, the teacher will:
- Read through the rubric again with students, focusing on the criteria for a 3 and a 5 for each category.
- Read through the "Rules for Collegial Discussions" sheet that students filled out and remind them that abiding by these rules is part of their grade. Remind them that it does not matter who wins the debate, but that they display all of the skills found in the rubric. The debate is merely a structure for discussion.
- Announce to the students which side of their topic they will be on- yea or nay.
- Have students meet with their partners and give them time to discuss how they want to present.
- Before the first debate, go over the format for the debate by sharing the Debate Format handout with students.
- Pass out the Debate Observation sheet. Explain that students will write the most convincing point from each side and they will choose an MVD (Most Valuable Debater) from each side.
- The teacher will moderate the debate according to the Debate Format handout.
- Students will debate each topic. While the given groups are debating, the students in the audience should be working on their Debate Observation sheets.
- Teacher will collect sheets.
Student Actions during the activity
Students will search for articles about their subject, start filling out their "Summary of Sources Sheets" and ask the teacher for help.
For the debate, students will follow the teacher's instructions as they:
- Read through the rubric.
- Read the "Rules for Collegial Discussions".
- Students will then get in their groups and discuss their ideas with their peers.
- Students will review the format of the debate by reading the "Debate Format" handout.
- Students will look over the "Debate Observation" sheet.
- Students will conduct the debate and write notes on their "Debate Format" handout.
- Students will turn in their "Debate Observation sheets".
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- For closure, pass out the exit slip titled: Exit Slip- Franklin Quote "in which students read the following quote by Benjamin Franklin:" Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Students should answer the following questions: (1) Given this quote, what do you think that Benjamin Franklin would have to say about the law that you discussed today? (2) Do you think that there are some laws that may restrict freedom that Benjamin Franklin would agree with were he alive today?
- After discussing the general gist of the quote, give students a few minutes to write down an answer to these questions.
- Ask students to share their responses. [Note: This activity has the potential to come across as heavy-handed, as though the teacher expects all of the students to fold at the teacher having dropped a quote from a founding father to submit, without protest, that there are no acceptable laws that curtail freedom in the name of safety. I think it is a legitimate question and I, personally, am not inclined to oversimplify Franklin's stance on the issues presented. Ben Franklin could not have envisioned drones, texting and driving, the effects of sugary beverages on a nation with an obesity epidemic, or the fact that a stop and frisk law would have saved tens of thousands of lives in New York City (though, in all honesty, Franklin's quote reads like he said it in direct response to Stop and Frisk). The question has been pursued since the beginning of the American experiment: At what point is safety an issue worth eschewing for freedom, or at what point is something not truly an essential liberty that people should be expected to give up for the safety of themselves or those around them?
Students will have a debate for their summative assessment. In this debate, they will come prepared to discuss one of the three given issues relating to 'Government Protection v. Individual Liberty:, drawing on the articles they've researched to fuel a thoughtful exchange of ideas. (A topics of debate sheet with student directions has been provided.)
Students will take part in the debate while adhering to rules of collegial discussion that they have established. Students will respond to questions about their topic that relate to broader themes of government protection v. liberty, representing the diverse perspectives presented in their articles, justifying the views that they were given.
The teacher can use the rubric provided to measure students' performance and the impact of this lesson on their learning.
- The teacher will be able to gather how much students know about warrants through the introduction/bell ringer activity. The discussion that comes from this activity will help the teacher fill in some of the gaps in background knowledge that less politically aware students may have by addressing said gaps during whole-group instruction.
- The teacher will be able to understand what the students know about the articles they've read by collecting their Summary of the Sources sheets. Teachers should look for a thorough understanding of the topic at hand through the students' completed sheets. If the teacher notices any lapses in understanding, they should write a note and discuss these with the student. Teachers should also pay attention to the quotes that the student is writing down. The student should have quotes that represent both sides of the given debate. If the students' quotes point to a one-sided argument, the teacher should write a note and require students to re-submit. Feedback on students' summary of sources sheets will help them to know if they are prepared, and if not, what to correct, prior to the start of the summative assessment debate.
Feedback to Students
- The teacher can comment on the students knowledge of warrants through discussion after the bell-ringer and address gaps in knowledge during whole-group instruction.
- The teacher can write on students' "Summary of the Sources" sheets to let them know what they did or did not understand from their sources. Teachers can also comment on students' quotes as to whether or not they had too many from one side. As mentioned in the formative assessment section, if the teacher sees fit to have students re-submit their paper, they may do that prior to the summative assessment debate.