On a quiet Tuesday morning, class began with students typing away on Chromebooks, adding finishing touches to their presentations. Mr. Miller’s fourth grade class is developing their Big Debate project, which is modeled after The Week Junior’s weekly debate page. Students are working collaboratively in groups to craft their own debate pages. Through this lesson they practice discussing complex questions and researching towards an evidence-based thesis argument. Everyone spent the last week deciding topics related to their school experience at DCD including whether or not students should receive homework and if recess should be before or after lunch. They have been working on their arguments in paragraph form, articulating their thoughts on the affirmative and negative sides of each subject.

One group discussed the pros and cons of allowing more than one child on a sled at recess. The pros included less sleds in the halls and a more efficient flow of recess. The cons were primarily safety concerns.

“Sledding is fun but no one wants to get hurt,” one student noted.

Mr. Miller encouraged each group by asking questions and noting salient points from their presentations, which were then used for a silent vote. Ten students felt that more than one child should be allowed on a sled and two students thought the opposite. The final part of this project is drawing a pie chart by hand to combine their research with their math skills, integrating fractions practice and protractor skills.

The Big Debate project is a wonderful opportunity for fourth graders to assert opinions and foster self-advocacy. DCD emphasizes problem solving, responsibility, collaboration, and community engagement in their classroom experience. We look forward to seeing how this project expands fourth graders’ mindsets to become independent thinkers!