Nuclear weapons, Debates and Padlet
This week I have mostly been working with Padlet.com with my year 8s. All seem to have grasped the essentials of the site (better than year 5, who are meant to be more tech savvy.) Over the next couple of lessons my pupils will be debating a topic they chose: Should nuclear weapons be banned from all countries?
Bear in mind, we did spend 2 lessons on building up debating etiquette, quelling all notion of it being just an argument and who ever shouted the loudest won. Eventually they came up with rules (coincidentally, they were similar to that found on idebate.org) to try and add some control to their madness.
I started by discussing something they would be interested in: PS4 Vs XBOX 1. This was the shouting match that led to a very 1 sided viewpoint – XBOX 1 all the way (I sitll prefer PS4.)
Folowing this, we discussed a better topic, something they could do some research on and get their teeth into: Is the Halo franchise, better than the COD (Call of Duty) franchise? Needless to say, this went down rather well and they actually wanted to do the homework (let them choose their own learning?)
Before we had our debate, I asked them 1 simple question: How do you know you’ve won the debate? – from this they came up with another rule for a debate: an unbiased person must make the final call (me!) based on the arguments given.
Phase 2 complete – the debate went better than expected, but no perfect. They focused too much on ‘stuff’ than the effect of the company.
Now for phase 3: As a homework, I told them to choose a topic form the top 100 debates on idebate.org and then we would decide, as a class, decide on the final topic: Should nuclear weapons be banned from all countries?
The next part was handing over the responsibility of the work to them, I could give them no aid or even point them in the right direction. They had to find out information and then decide whether or not it could be used for or against the topic. Finally, they could share on Padlet anything they did discover and thought other members of their group should also read/watch.
Padlet made this part of the task very simple and the year 8s grasped the website excellently (although some still think that the Internet Explorer sign is the only way to get onto the internet, but they’ll learn one day.) The only concern is moderation of the content they write – this does have to be policed manually, but trust tends to win the battle. This is what they eventually did:
Phase 4: The debate
The plan is to have them discuss and plan what they are going to say, they have also nominated 1 person to speak, representing each side (again, they came up with rules very similar to the standard debating rules.)
Update: Unfortunately Audioboom wasn’t working when I wanted it to and I completely forgot about using Vimeo. However, the debate was a success and the overall consensus was that no-one should have nuclear weapons.