Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Posts Tagged ‘debating’

The Myst Courtroom Drama

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 16, 2009

On Friday we had one of our culminating activities for the Myst unit – the long awaited Courtroom Drama. My guys had been looking forward to this for a long time and had completed a lot of work in preparation for the day.

The morning started with a simple question on the interactive whiteboard:

Which book will you choose?

Red / Blue / Green

I did not say anything to the class but let them come into the room and see the board – the discussions started immediately – and when they realised I wasn’t going to say anything – they really took the initiative. Before long there were three distinct groups in the room arguing over which book would be the best choice. Great fun.

I took the guys into an ajoining room with the labe/s Agree / Strongly Agree / Disagree / Strongly Disagree displayed in each corner – I then asked them a series of questions and got them to make a decision – quizzing them over their choices. I was surprised and pleased to find that this exercise achieved some very positive results – this is a weak group and my particularly reluctant writers thrived during this session – it was a fantastic experience.

I then got the guys together in the centre of the room and asked them to make a decision based on the brothers Sirrus and Achenar – which one did they trust? which one would they defend in court? Also, did anyone distrust both brothers enough to choose the mysterious green book? (all we know of the book at this stage is that it trapped Sirrus and Achenar – or so they say)

With a little ‘teachering’ we ended up with three roughly even groups and I gave the guys their resources for the session

  • A3 red cards with everything relating to Sirrus – transcripts of speeches, notes
  • A3 blue cards with everything relating to Achenar – transcripts of speeches, notes
  • A3 green cards with a transcript of Atrus’ speech from the digital imager

Each group also had 2 other sheets of card for their notes – they were to compose two arguments – one in defence of their choice and two, an accusation of the others.

Later in the day we had the courtroom set up – we rows of seats in a ‘U’ shape with myself behind a desk in the middle. Each team made an opening statement and then took turns to argue key points. During these turns other groups could raise an ‘objection’ which I would ‘overrule’ or ‘sustain’ (not sure who had more fun – me or the kids?)

I had a simple scoring system – everything was out of 5. I judged the quality of their statements, the effectiveness of the response and the accuracy of the counter-rebuttal.

In the end the blue team won – and it was thanks largely to one particular student who really struggles with written work but gave wonderfully concise, accurate arguments – he got my Student of the Week award solely for that.

It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the guys have just gone to Music, still talking about Friday, still asking for more of the same – you’ve got to love that!



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