By Peter Hyle
This past week at FC, English teacher Anne Martin’s sophomore English honors classes held debates over various subjects. These arguments covered topics such as gun laws, government spending, and technology. Devoting well over a month to this assignment, students perfected their speaking skills and learned new ways to form argumentative claims.
This assignment served many purposes in each of the classes.
“It had them practice skills of argument, which is a standard,” said Martin. “It also required them to speak in a proper, elegant manner and tested their collaboration skills.”
Students realized the immediate challenges, and even some that were unexpected.
“My partner and I both had differing views about our topic, so it was hard to decide what should be our final debate. In the end, we compromised and it turned out great,” said sophomore Jordyn Boling.
Despite the problems, each student was given both instructions and time to prepare.
“It took about a month to go through the process of writing their argumentative essays. We took a break after they were turned in so I could grade, and we spent that break watching student debaters online and practicing speaking skills,” said Martin. “After getting their papers back, I talked to my students about revising their work and we went over the time requirements, presentation order, and topics.”
During the preparations, many of the students felt at ease with the time and instructions given by their teacher.
“Mrs. Martin helped us prepare for the presentations by giving us a helpful rubric and strict, yet easy to follow ways to organize our debates. It was a lot of help and without it I think our presentation would have looked sloppy and disorganized,” said Boling.
Martin took her students opinion into consideration, making sure that the assignment didn’t come across as too intimidating or complicated.
“I talked to my first period class and had them help me edit the guidelines on my rubric,” said Martin.
Without all the instructions, the students might not have completed this assignment as smoothly.
“She didn’t hold our hand, but she made it clear what we needed to do,” said sophomore Brett Yeaton. “She gave us a great rubric and easy guidelines.”
Not only were the directions concise, but other components of this assignment made the whole project easier.
“I think that Mrs. Martin’s assistance was the only thing keeping me from looking like an idiot in front of my class,” said sophomore Caitlin Fien.
Overall, Martin’s sophomore English Honors classes impressed their teacher with their debates.
“I was very pleased to see my students rising to the expectations I set. Even though they were nervous, each one made it through the presentations. I hope now that they are more comfortable with public speaking, which is a big part of high school life,” said Martin.