Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Truman Decision...The Interactive Online Debate

Should Truman drop the Atomic Bomb

Having class discussions and debates is a very important part of a US History Class. The challenge in any type of debate is to make sure that all students get opportunities to express their opinion. For students that are shy, this always poses a problem. The more vocal students typically take over a discussion very quickly drowning out class debate. 

The past few years I have tried some online forums to help students debate class topics online. I have used:

Of all that I've used, I like CoveritLive the best.

Pros of CoveritLive

  • I can moderate comments. With working with 8th Grade students I have had problems in the past with inappropriate comments being posted in online forums. With CoveritLive I can check comments before they become live to prevent something inappropriate coming through and I can send a direct warning message to the student who made the comment. 
  • I can embed Videos, Images, and Polls for students to react and respond to. Check out CoveritLive Features to learn more. 
  • I can record and replay the discussion after students are done. This way students can go back and read comments. I can also go back and look at comments to give a participation grade in the debate. 
  • CoveritLive Pricing: They have a Trial Account that is free and other options if you contact their Customer Support. 

Cons of CoveritLive

  • There is a time component involved setting up the debate. Where TodaysMeet and Google Docs are quick and spontaneous, CoveritLive requires a level of pre-planning.
  • There is a Learning Curve. You have to embed the  CoveritLive  on a Wiki, Blog, or site that allows embed code. If you are unfamiliar with embeding code into a website this, it can be a challenge for first time users. If your school has "intensive web filters" you might run into some problems. For help, check out CoveritLive Support. 
  • It is a little stressful managing the online debate and trying to keep tabs on students in class. 

Teacher Prep Work:

After creating my account in CoveritLive, I went into the Media Center in CoveritLive to add images and types of poll questions I wanted to ask during the debate. I pre-thought out what type of questions I would ask to help faciltate discussions. I let students guide this discussion once we get started, but having a pre-plan of attack is helpful for those spur of the moment decisions. You can create polls pretty quickly on the fly, but it is easier to have them pre-created and ready to push out to students.

Student Prep Work: Mr. Truman I think....

Before we held our class debate, students were given a Pages Document that I created to help them research three different scenarios that President Truman had to end the War against Japan during WWII.
     A. Drop the atomic bomb.
     B. Demonstrate the atomic bomb   to Japanese
     C. Invade Japan.

Students read about advantages and disadvantages for each option, as well as watched an embeded video of a Kamikaze attack.  Their homework that needed to be completed before the day of they debate was to pick one option and explain why they would recommend this option to President Truman. Student had to provide two reasons why the felt their option they were recommended was the best.  Students also had to pick which option they thought was the worst choice and provide an explanation why they felt it was a bad choice.  Students had to bring their recommendations to class filled out the next day.

Day of the Debate:

Before students got out their computers, I had students share with a partner their Student Prep from the day before. While students are doing this I do a quick scan to make sure all students are ready for the debate. After students share, we go over expectations for the day. 
  • Comments must be positive at all times. No put downs are allowed. 
  • Make sure your comments help support the discussion that is going on.
  • All comments are moderated and after two strikes, you will be removed from the online debate.
  • Listen to your teacher's instructions at allPost Debate:
Usually at the end of the debate, or the next day we watch part of the following YouTube Clip that recreates the Atom Bomb drop on Hiroshima. Students final piece is to write a three to four paragraph reflection on the debate. What they learned from the debate? What they thought was the best decision Truman could make and why? Why the didn't like the other options?

There are lots of resources that can be used for an Atomic Bomb debate. Here are few I've used. I would love to hear what you use in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really cool lesson! Thanks for sharing all of this! I've taken notes on this post for my future classroom! I love these ideas and your resources rock! :) Thanks!