Standard 7: Knowledge of the use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)
Concept G: Supporting a point of view
Grade Level Expectations SS7 1.2, 1.4, 1.7: Identify, research, and defend a point of view/ position
Original Instruction: In each 7th grade classroom I taught, I used a format I gleaned from a teacher at my high school (I never had her for class, but I observed her using this activity when I returned as a pre-service education student). Called the Hot Seat Debate, students researched and defended one side or the other of some issue that allowed two clear sides to be argued. Many debates ended up being quite polarizing and/or controversial.
Original Assessment: After several class periods of researching, both in print and online, students participated in the day of the debate by sitting in a circle of chairs surrounding the four Hot Seats. Two per team, for a total of four, are the only students allowed to speak at any given time as the debate ensues. Although they rotate into the Hot Seats every few minutes, the main way other students would participate is by passing notes with pertinent information to those able to speak. Student responses could be tallied, plus a post-debate assignment could assess how well students were not only able to defend their chosen position but also to see the perspective of the opposing team.
Revised Instruction: The ubiquity of laptops in most schools would allow a unique twist on Hot Seat students’ communication with team members outside the Hot Seats. Instead of passing notes on scraps of paper, each team could have a password-protected chat room set up for them. Students unable to speak due to being outside the Hot Seats could communicate with Hot Seat occupants the way professionals in scattered locations would – electronically and instantly.
Revised Assessment: A transcript of each team’s chat would provide incontrovertible proof of who gave what information and when. Also, a compare-contrast PowerPoint could be a helpful way to summarize the positions of each team.