Sunday, February 28, 2010

Debate is life, the rest is just prep time

That is the slogan on a bumper sticker that my freshman have stuck onto their evidence tubs.

As we begin to wind down competition for this year, I'm already thinking about prepping for next year. More specifically what I can do to get my debaters researching effectively right now? Before they begin writing their cases for next year, I would like them to have a good background knowledge of the issues related to next year's topic.

The topic is as follows:

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce its military and/or police presence in one or more of the following: South Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Turkey

I am trying to think of how I can use blogs or a wiki to promote research. For instance, should I have each team keep a blog and update it once or twice weekly with news related to one of those six countries? Should I give each team a country to blog about?

The other option would be to use a Wiki. Every week I would create a new wiki page with links to articles. The kids would be responsible for reading the articles and writing summaries about them in the Wiki. I would also create other pages with broad topics that they need to research. Of course this does not ensure 100% participation, but since PBWorks records who has made edits I would have a pretty good idea of who is doing the prep work (therefore first in line for the Wake Forest tourney in September!)

I feel like blogging would be the most straightforward, however a wiki would encourage more interaction between the students on the team and it would leave us with one portal of information about the topic. Since most of my kids are younger, I'm not necessarily confident in their ability to find good scholarly articles on their own. I know some of the best resources for information on foreign policy. Therefore, a wiki might allow for more scaffolding. The older kids on the team can also be responsible for creating pages and research topics for the younger ones to pursue.

Fortunately I have a little time to think about it. Right now I just have to get us through Metrofinals, and States!

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