Virtual Debates – a new staple of ELA classes

When I was a social studies teacher, we had something that was on the cutting edge.  We had a program called “oral assessment”.  Students chose a controversial topic, obtained sources, wrote bib & note cards, drafted an outline, created a two page paper, and then presented their argument and had a debate which was judged. It was powerful, thoughtful, and so beneficial for our students as they go into high school and embark upon group-work in college. If only I had this.

Now here comes oral assessment 2.0.

Once again, I had the privilege of judging a virtual debate arranged by Melissa Butler, (@AngelinaShy) a middle school ELA teacher in North Jersey. Melissa coordinates a series of virtual debates through Google Hangout with her classes against other classes around NJ and the country. She coordinates the topics, arranges the online coin tosses, has rubrics, shares a wealth of resources, and coordinates judges from around the United States. The amount of time, talent, and professionalism really can’t be measured.

Please watch the video above and see what most adults can’t even do today. I hope every educator can incorporate something like this into their classes.

Onward.

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