As I mentioned during our Monday class, there have been minimal opportunities at my classroom placement to observe or practice class discussion techniques. I believe that a version of the jigsaw method worked well during my unit plan. The version allowed students to learn the Constitution Articles themselves in small groups, discussing important vocabulary and concepts together for the purpose of creating a poster they would share and teach from to the class. Students were actively involved in discussing with each other and presenting their posters.
However, my students have very little exposure to class discussion overall. I would be enthusiastic about sharing a discussion technique with them. I liked the structured forum lesson because it forces students to look at and consider primary source documents and use them as evidence in an argument. I wouldn’t use the same topic or documents with my class because they do not have the historical background knowledge to catch on to the context very quickly. In general, I am struggling with finding interactive lessons which will teach my students the historical background knowledge they do not have. Yet, I do think that this type of discussion/debate form would be helpful for them. If I simplified the topic to something the students are more familiar with, such as events going on at their school or in North Portland, or possibly about Christopher Columbus and European discovery, I think it would work well.
Running the discussion/debate with a more familiar topic will expose students to the process. The students will build the skills of reading and using primary source documents, citing the text (I would possibly require a direct quotation), and having a focused discussion. Of course, the age group may require a great deal of facilitation by me to keep it focused, but I think my students could really learn a lot from it and, down the road, help them develop historical background in a critical way.