“Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.”- Hubert Humphrey
A couple weeks back 11th graders participated in an educated, opinionated debate on the issue of Imperialism and America in the early 20th century. Students were broken into teams, and first wrote persuasive essays on subtopics such as the spanish-american war, yellow journalism/media bias, americanization/nationalism, and economics/politics/ideologies of 20th century America to support their argument for or against Imperialism. Next, students presented a 1-2 minute oral personal platform and lastly students participated in a full class debate against other teams in class.
Within the project students were asked to focus particular emphasis on forming an educated opinion, backing that opinion up with facts, stats, examples, scenarios etc. and lastly, connect their 20th century topic to today. The project was an overwhelming success in each class. Students were eager to voice their opinions, found multiple ways to back their arguments up, and connected the major issues of the 20th century to major issues of today. Students presented their arguments with pride, passion and excitement proving they not only understood the content, could think about it critically but they could also form an educated opinion, back it up, and connect that opinion of then to NOW. whewwww. No easy task if, I the creator, do say so myself. :) On more than one occasion I walked up on students in the hall or leaving my class continuing their debates about the topic with other classmates. I wish that I could upload all thirty videos I have but sadly do not have the time, I can however ensure you that the end goal was accomplished. Students not only worked independently and collaboratively but they became connected to the content in a way that even weeks after the debate they can explain with ease their stance on the issue of Imperialism, and when they really want to get me amped up throw in a couple ways America is still pursuing Imperialist goals today.
The videos below are uploaded to my teacher youtube account. (these videos are private and can only be viewed by my posting of the link) The first video is of Evan's personal platform against imperialism and his subtopic yellow journalism and the second is of Joey, Keyahdah, and Taylor's closing argument for imperialism. Enjoy the Great Debaters of Tarrant while we move onto the roaring 20s, all that jazz, and the (not so great) Great Depression.
(he stops his last statement so he doesn't lose points for going over time, I turned the video off before he said he would save the point for the debate)