Day Four - Standardized Testing and The Second Debate
It's the fourth day of the Institute, and we're wowed by how much students in both labs have improved over the last few days! Today, we introduced the main topic for the rest of camp: standardized testing. The Public Forum topic for high schools in December 2015, it reads "Resolved: On balance, standardized testing is beneficial to K-12 education in the United States." When introducing the topic, we discussed the meaning and purpose of education, the pros and cons of federal intervention in education, and the ways in which standardized testing can improve or impair educational practices across schools.
After our introduction to the topic, we helped walk students through researching and compiling their own evidence, what we call "cutting cards" (before debate transitioned to computers, students would make copies of pages from books, and then cut and paste those copies onto index cards that they'd use to organize their evidence).
After lunch, we had a second debate, this time on the standardized education topic. Students had the chance to use some of their own research in these debates, or to use evidence we provided. Students flipped sides, meaning if they affirmed yesterday, they had the chance to negate today. We'll keep doing this in the practice debates and the mock tournament next week, so students can learn about both sides of the topic.
Tomorrow, students will watch some of our instructors and lab assistants in a demonstration debate on the topic. We'll commentate the debate and debrief afterwards to make sure everything makes sense to the students. Afterwards, students will have the chance to ask us questions about debate (whether at LHS or other schools), high school, or anything else - so long as it's appropriate. Then, students will do "rebuttal redoes," where they re-give a speech from today that we gave them comments on. This helps them target individual skills, and makes tangible goals for improvement. Finally, in the afternoon we'll have a field day, where students can get out some of their energy with fun outdoor activities. If it rains or is too hot outside, we'll have indoor activities for students.
We hope they've been enjoying the program so far, and we're sorry that it'll be the last day for some! We're always more than happy to answer questions after the Institute ends, whether from you or your children. Please reach out to us with any questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.