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Monday, November 19, 2012

CCSS lesson: Arguing the School Calendar

It’s easy to get kids writing an argument when they are passionate about a subject and who is not passionate about the school calendar?  Just open up the discussion on year round schools or what religious holidays will be observed can spark a debate.  Adjusting the school calendar for emergency days adds the complexity of previous plans and often emotions run high.  With the recent Hurricane on the East Coast, many schools have been closed to two full weeks.  Why not have your students do some critical thinking and problem solving around the topic of Emergency School Closings?
To get the argument started have students take on the role of parent, Board of Education, teacher and student and read the articles below:
Informational text Resources:
See the Issues
As an individual, have students list the issues they come across for their point of view as they are reading.  List all class issues.
Clarify the issues:
Ask students to clarify the issues that have been posted.  Students should refer back to the articles to see if there is an explanation as to why the issue is important. 
Ask what’s Important
As a class determine what issues are most important to consider when coming up with a solution.
No, what should be done? 
Work as a class to determine what should be done to adjust the school calendar keeping the most important issues in mind. 
Get them writing:  Ask students to describe and defend the new plan making sure they acknowledge other options and points of view.
Online SCAN Tool:
Increase student engagement and participation in this discussion using the SCAN tool at TregoED.  The private online discussion tool walks students through these steps, allows them to comment and collaborate on the solution.  “School Calendar and Emergency Days” is a free SCAN scenario this month featuring these points of view and including links to the articles. 
I guess if you live in a sunny spot with no weather issues you may never have to face the problem of emergency school closings…perhaps you may want to have your students look at the issues involved in the “Year Round School” Scenario. 
This same problem solving strategy can be used at the administrative level.  Check out “5 Steps to Help Your School with Post-Disaster Management” to see how this strategy can work for you.


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