Modern Research Synthesis (Day 2 of 3): Seminar and Debate Prep

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SWBAT demonstrate their ability to come to discussions prepared and use their work to propel conversations with thoughtful insights, questions and support by participating in a socratic seminar.

Big Idea

Today, we will discuss evidence of the impacts of independence on post-colonial countries in the modern world so that we can work do draw our own conclusions about causes, effects and possible solutions.


10 minutes

We will start class with ten minutes of reading time. This will be our last silent reading time of the year (sniff) and I will read with the students during this time. 

Synthesis Seminar

45 minutes

For the past week, students have been preparing for this seminar by researching, creating informative texts and generally being awesome as they apply all the skills they have worked to master this year. This multi-part final assessment asks students to synthesize information about the struggles and development of regions in the modern world. We will be assessing students on a variety of skills, such as:

  • Integrate information from a variety of sources (SL.9-10.2)
  • Write a piece of informative/explanatory texts (W.9-10.2)
  • Present information clearly and concisely (SL.9-10.4)
  • Participate in whole class discussions (SL.9-10.1)
  • Draw on evidence from a wide variety of texts that students read independently this year (RL.9-10.1 and RL/I.9-10.10)

For this seminar, I will take one half of the students and my teaching partner will work with the other half. Within those halves, we will further divide the students into two smaller groupings so that students will have a turn speaking and a turn listening. This is called a fishbowl seminar, as the students who are speaking are in a "fishbowl" as their peers listen in silently to their conversation and take note of ideas that are shared. I like this particular format of discussion because it requires students to be individually responsible to add to the conversation, but makes it so that they only have to speak with 15 peers at a time. For a class as large as mine, this helps students who might struggle with speaking to feel safer sharing their thoughts. Each group will have 20 minutes of speaking time. 

My students have done really well with seminars this year and I am really excited to see what they can do in this final discussion. I will group them in such a way to make sure that there are some speaking leaders in every group, but (hopefully) a balance of other kinds of speakers/listeners as well.

As I listen, I will specifically be looking for students to come to the discussion prepared (SL.9-10.1a, with a completely filled in seminar planning sheet. I will also be scoring them on their ability to propel the conversation forward by posing and responding to questions (SL.9-10.1c) as well as their ability to respond thoughtfully to a diverse perspectives and draw others in the conversation (SL.9-10.1d).  

Seminar Debrief: Small Group

20 minutes

Once we've finished our seminars, I will bring the whole class back together and allow students to get back into their final project groups. I will instruct students to do a quick share out to their group members of big ideas or unique insights that were shared in each of the seminar groups to make sure that everyone is privy to all that was shared, even if it was in the other half of the room. We will do this first debrief in a small group setting so that it can be quick and so that students can benefit from the focused perspective of their group members who researched the same region.

I will ask students to add any notes or insights to the appropriate box on their seminar planning sheet. 

Seminar Debrief: Whole Group

10 minutes

I don't know that we will need ten whole minutes for this section of class, but I want to make sure that there is an opportunity for the whole class to debrief the discussions as well so that there is every opportunity for students to hear about regions other than the ones they researched.

I will ask students to return to their assigned seats and lead the class through a whole group debrief of the seminar (SL.9-10.1). I will use this time to answer questions that might have been left unanswered and to highlight of acknowledge particularly insightful comments or ideas shared across the class. 

Debate Prep Work Time

20 minutes

The last chunk of the class period today will be devoted to individual work time for students to prepare for the final part of our final assessment, which will require them to take the information they've gather through their research, informational text presentations and today's seminar and turn it into an argument supported by a variety of evidence, both from their research and from the texts we have read/studied this year (RI.9-10.1). 

To support them with this, my teaching partner and I came up with a series of thesis statements, or argumentative ideas that we will ask students to prepare claims and counterclaims for each statement (W.9-10.1b). Each statement speaks to one of the larger themes or ideas that we have considered over the course of this year and specifically connect to issues that exist currently or have the potential to exist in the modern world. 

As students work, I will circulate the classroom to assist or to push thinking as needed. We will provide the students with charts to fill in for this work. They will be able to use these charts tomorrow during their final, hot-seat debate. 

Wrap Up and Next Steps

5 minutes

We will use the last five minutes of class to answer any pertinent questions students might have about the debate prep. We will also remind students that we have an earlier start time in the morning due to our building finals schedule.