Today was a really great day. We had a block or 90 minute class period day. (We do on Wed/Thu) So I showed about 10 minutes of NBC Nightly News last night to catch students up on the election. There was also a great story about the war in Afghanistan. Gripping viewing. Then I introduced our Religion Project and Chapter 5 - The Roman Empire.
For the last 1/2 hour we did "Philosophical Chairs." It is just another reason I love AVID. I learned Philosophical Chairs through my training as an AVID elective teacher. The process works like this, you raise a question for debate that has two choices. The students write their response on a piece of paper and then they take a side of the classroom and debate ensues.
There are 5 simple rules:
1 - Stay in the hot seat (or undecided seats) for only 1 minute
2 - Repeat or Rephrase what the last person said
3 - Wait 3 seconds until that person is finished to be sure they are done with their comment.
4 - You must wait until the 4th person to speak again. (generally speaking, someone on your side must speak before you can speak again. the comments move like ping-pong back and forth)
5 - Move your 5 toes and get your feet walking. You show support for comments made not by talking, but by moving from your side of the room to theirs. It does not mean you have completely changed your mind, you just are giving them support for their argument.
The question today was, "Where would you rather live - Athens or Sparta?" This is such a compelling question. The kids really get into it. We have already investigated the roles of men and women in both societies and we took our test on the chapter yesterday. So today they were really ready to debate.
Our building principal came in during 5th period today. She stood wide-eyed as the students went back and forth about the question. The bell rang and I sprinted to the door to collect their notes and reflections. She told me later that students walked by her while I was waiting in the hall and said, "I just LOVE this class!" One of the students gave me her sheet and said, "This is such a great class... my favorite ever." It was from a young lady who was so much trouble for me at the beginning of the year. I almost started to cry. It really got to me and made me feel good.
I am really lucky to be a teacher. It is such a rewarding and incredible job.
Using Philosophical Chairs