Is "Knowing Stuff" Obsolete - Essay

8 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT construct an argumentative essay that addresses the question "Are schools obsolete?"

Big Idea

Students use their own experience as evidence to support their position on the relevance of their school experience.


20 minutes

I begin the lesson by reminding the students that I want them to watch the following video while keeping their own educational experience in mind.  

This TED talk, Sugra Mitra's new experiments in self-teaching, describes his experiments of how students are able to teach themselves, along with his plan for the future of schools.


120 minutes

For the next few days, students construct a 5 paragraph argumentative essay, which states their position on the question, "Are today's schools obsolete?" They use their own experiences as evidence to support their claim.  

I worked with the ELA teacher to adapt one of her rubrics so the students are using familiar expectations (Argumentative Essay Rubric). The problem I encountered is that sometimes ELA goals and science goals don't always match.  I ended up altering the rubric to better match what I was looking for, which was more of a claim-evidence-reasoning format (Essay Rubric (Simplified).

I remind students that, while it is important to be honest, I do not want this to turn into a teacher bashing.  I remind them that there is no wrong answer and they do not need to agree with the message of the opening TED talk.  Finally, I let them know that I am planning on sharing their thoughts with the school administration as I feel that it is important for students to have an authentic audience, especially when addressing a topic such as this.