Does Gum Chewing Really Help with Testing?

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SWBAT...analyze an article on "Can chewing gum really help students focus?" to identify the thesis, supporting reasons and counter argument.

Big Idea

Arguments need to be backed with facts and examples to make them reasonable to their audience.

Creating the Purpose

5 minutes

This unit is such a fun one because of the high level of student buy-in because who doesn't love gum! This helps to motivate their learning and make their research and writing more of a personal mission to get a rule changed. In the unit I have included leveled worksheets and reading passages to differentiate for my students' varied abilities.   

In this first lesson I introduce the concept by asking students what helps them to feel smarter and more relaxed while they are testing? This helps them to build buy-in for the lesson and personal value to the research topic. Invariably someone says chewing gum helps them to concentrate more - I have to agree with this one:)

I share that studies have proven both for and against the fact that gum helps students concentrate. I introduce our objective that we are going to evaluate expert data and opinions to take a side on the issue that is best supported by the information given.

I want to excite their fun factor so I share that whatever the class decides will be passed on to Mrs. Fachner, our principal, to influence our school policy on this issue.


Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

In this section I want my students to learn about the issue from both perspectives so that they can form an opinion. Of course most at this point feel that we should allow gum chewing because it is a sweet fun treat that they are hoping to get to enjoy. The place I( want them to get to is truly evaluating the data so I really need to emphasize that our principal will be reading and counting on us to share legitimate facts about the issue. I had her pop her head in to share that she will be looking forward to reading their responses soon - hope yours is equally as great!)

I introduce the article to my students and share that they will be completing a chart to determine the pros and cons listed in the article. I included two articles in this lesson to give you more opportunity to choose one that is at your students levels. Article one is at a lower reading level and easier to navigate; article two is at a higher comprehension and reading level. I introduce the chart and project it on the board.

We read the article together, pausing after each paragraph to have students highlight the facts as we read. I stop after each section to have them pair share to get their ideas noted on their papers. My purpose is for them to debate and form opinions that either support or debate the gum chewing issue. 

I have students share what facts were listed and how they support or debate the issue. I then have them pair share and whole class debate their opinions and why they feel this way to get the class to have a split opinion.  


Independent Learning

20 minutes

Now I want students to research their stance on the issue to see if they can find support for their beliefs. I wanted to pass out random slips of paper that gave them the opinion they would try to research but they were so set in their opinions that I changed it to be their personal choice so that they would have a stronger drive towards their personal research.  

I review what a fact and opinion is so that they can focus on facts in their research. I also review the graphic organizer collection worksheet to respond to questions students have on thesis, evidence in text, etc. . I share that they will get 30 minutes to research and write a short paragraph supporting their position using facts from their chart and at least one strong fact from their research. I have students move into individual or partnered groups depending on their worksheet and needs.   

To help them in their research I give them some suggested websites or a copy of the articles - pros and cons. I have my struggling students work with partners and my stronger work alone. Definitely circulate and check for understanding on this one because students may struggle with finding their own facts. 

They need to have some support to bring to the class debate in the next section - keep them excited and motivated to find the best evidence to support their responses so that they can win the class argument for their side - share the more evidence the better!   


Closing the Loop

5 minutes

Students now get the opportunity to debate and defend their positions. Most important is reiterating the rules - everyone speaks - one side speaks at a time - listening is important - debate with evidence - everyone wins

I start the timer to give each side an equal opportunity to speak. We love to role a dice and have each side pick numbers to choose who will go first. Whatever side wins gets one minute to talk. Then the opposing side debates the issues brought forward to build their opinions and facts in a stronger light. We continue until the students begin to repeat or run out of steam.

When we are finished I ask is anyone feels that they should change sides due to the evidence presented? I actually got two to switch to against gum chewing! (we had a larger pro gum chewing group)     

I share that when people have opinions on an issue it is often difficult for them to change those opinions because of their emotional attachments. I want students to know that their feelings on an issue influence the facts they research and the opinions they have in the debates. I introduce that in their next debate they will be given a random side on the issue and will need to find evidence to support it regardless of their opinions on it. (love to build foreshadowing of whats to come to increase student buy-in) 

Here are examples of what their final paperwork should look like and areas where they might have struggled