Doubters and Believers Activity and Implications for Classroom Application:
For past week and half, I have been lucky enough to participate in Philadelphia Writing Project. This program has been around since 1986 and generation of teachers have come together every summer to talk about fostering reading, writing and critical thinking skills in our students. I am still in the middle of the experience but am already overwhelmed by its impact on my thinking about being a teacher and a learner. If you want to be challenged and grow as a teacher, I would highly recommend the summer institute program offered through this program.
Here is a snippet of what I experienced today.
As our facilitator read statements out loud, we had to decide for ourselves whether we believed or doubted that statement. This was no easy task. One of the memorable statements was “Home literacy is has less importance than standard English.” This caused a lively debate among the participants and each Fellow was allowed a chance to speak their mind about the statement. This was a thought-provoking activity and it allowed us to get up and literally take a stand in what we believed in. The interesting thing was that often when a Fellow made a remarkable point, you would notice that few people would change their mind and move to the opposing side. I think this activity can fit very nicely in a high school English classroom.
One possible use of this activity for me may occur during our unit The House on Mango Street. Before reading the text, I can have students stand listen to a statement read by me and shown on the whiteboard and have them decide if they believe it or doubt it. I would also allow my students to speak to the ideas regarding the statement and encourage them to refrain from addressing other students or attacking them personally. Some of the statements that may work well for this text are:
1. It is most healthy for people to live around others of their own race.
2. It is easy to judge someone by the kind of clothes that they wear.
3. The United States government should not allow any more people to immigrate to the U.S.
4. Parents do not understand the problems that face teenagers today.
5. People with money usually have more friends.
6. Immigrants from Mexico do not do well in American schools.
7. Home is a safe place.
8. It is hard to be good friends with people who are different than you.
9. Kids who are raised in inner-city neighborhoods usually end up drinking, doing drugs, and running with the wrong crowd.
10. It is difficult for guys and girls to be good friends if they are not romantically interested in each other.
What are your thoughts on my application of Doubters/Believers for my 9th and 10th grade English classroom? Have you used a similar activity? How did you use it? Thanks and I look forward to your responses.