Reflection: Debate Monsters Inside Me: Parasitic Protists (Part 2/2) - Section 4: Group Work: To Spray or Not to Spray


There are several times throughout the year when my students consider the benefits and risks of certain policies. When we do this exercise, I remind them that we should do our best to make this a good discussion. I encourage students to be friendly and non-combative when they are talking with their peers. I also encourage everyone to give their opinions so we can hear a variety of points of view. When students are expressing their ideas, I stress that they should debate the ideas and not the person or their feelings. Ideas expressed should remain on topic. I also let students know what is said in the room will not leave the room. By doing this, I build an environment of trust. Finally, I encourage students to be active listeners and rephrase what the previous speaker has said before they give their own ideas. I also encourage students to state whether they agree with the former speaker's statement or if they disagree, why they disagree.  For more information on how to facilitate an excellent class discussion, look at the class discussion guidelines that I provide my students.

I find that having students debate an issue causes increased interest because it makes my students stay focused. It can help with my classroom management because all students are required to contribute. During the entire class discussion, I can elicit ideas from students who might be daydreaming or otherwise not paying attention. Also, proper debate encourages students to speak to each other respectfully about a certain topic. They can practice using appropriate scientific language and develop confidence in speaking in public. Because they have to prepare a short presentation, they are more involved than if they simply had to listen to me explain an issue to them. What my students say during a debate also gives me insight into their thinking and the amount of understanding they have about a particular scientific concept or issue. Knowing what they know allows me to correct misconceptions and naive thinking. Also, debating allows students to give me feedback about a topic. They can express what they think about the importance of certain policies.

High schools students already have very strong opinions about certain subjects and many are more than happy to express their thoughts. I find it is best to embrace this tendency in my students and target that energy. By choosing my topics carefully, I can channel my students' energy into a positive learning experience. It also allows me a method for facilitating critical, analytical reasoning.

To help my students prepare for debates, I provide them the necessary background information to help them successfully draft a presentation. This is why they watch the video clip first.  Most students have limited knowledge about malaria's effects on humans because we live in an area unaffected by the disease. I also almost always allow them to work in small groups so they have the benefit of several points of view. This allows them to brainstorm ideas and help each other gather information to support their opinions. In this case study, student groups identify the main idea and only choose the evidence that supports that argument. As a group, they sift through the case and eliminate any information that is less important to the topic. Then while listening to the student presentations, student increase their knowledge about both sides of the argument by categorizing and labeling information presented by the opposing sides. By considering and answering the questions at the end of the case, students are allowed to explain and explore the evidence given in the student presentations and ask for points of clarification either from me or the student groups. Finally, students are asked to commit to a side of the argument and write about their reasons for choosing that side. By linking their position back to the content we are learning, students increase their comprehension skills which are essential for them to become better technical readers and writers.  


  Debate: It's Debatable...helping students consider the costs and benefits of certain policies
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Monsters Inside Me: Parasitic Protists (Part 2/2)

Unit 4: Protists
Lesson 4 of 11

Objective: Students examine the life cycle of Plasmodium for use as an example of natural selection.

Big Idea: Malaria is a disease that ravages the world. Is it important to spray to control one of the host organisms? Students decide in today's lesson.

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5 teachers like this lesson
Biology / Life Science, Science, malaria, natural selection (Evolution), cause and effect, parasites, Constructing Explanation and Designing Solutions, Order and Consistency, Biodiversity and Humans
  66 minutes
trypanosomabrucei procyclictrypomastigote sem
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