Debate for Impact - An Authentic Learning Experience for ASH Middle Schoolers

This month we are leaning into the theme of learner impacts and we love exploring and showcasing examples of this from around ASH to our wider community, particularly during this time when we have to restrict access to campus. Before spring break we had the opportunity to learn about an exciting debate unit that Ms. Schlosser and her grade seven Language Arts students have been working on. A traditional approach to debate was put to one side, with fresh ideas embraced and a critical thinking lense applied to important issues affecting the world around us right now. It is amazing to see the impact a fresh approach has on our learners and we’ll let Ms. Schlosser explain in her own words what these students have been working on.
“Civil discourse is vital to a healthy democracy. To engage in civil discourse is to contribute ideas and listen carefully in equal measure, especially when discussing controversial, polarizing issues.” In the grade seven Language Arts unit, Debate for Impact,  instead of engaging in debate to win, students engaged in debate to understand an issue from different perspectives and to brainstorm solutions. During this project, the students worked together with Global Youth Media, which is a young organization that is currently leading workshops for Chapters International on transformative global education and authentic learning experiences through media-making.
Our students selected their motions and teams, conducted research, crafted speeches and practiced their speaking and listening skills while learning in a virtual and hybrid model.  Mrs Schlosser shared that she is, “extraordinarily proud of their perseverance, creativity, and growth." Some of the motions up for debate included; police departments in the United States should be defunded due to police brutality, "cancel culture" is an effective way to hold public figures accountable for causing harm, the use of animals for scientific and commercial testing, dress codes for schools, banning plastic water bottles, alternative energy replacing fossil fuels, governments should be able to limit the free speech of their citizens. Incredibly thought-provoking issues, the students’ work on these was recorded and will soon be available as podcasts, so watch this space! 

Once more, our teachers and students demonstrate the enormous amount of possibilities there exist to be creative here at ASH, whether this be in a virtual or hybrid learning model. Projects like this one and our wider community connections at ASH allow us to continually offer engaging and impactful learning opportunities.
We would also like to include some thank you’s on behalf of Ms. Schlosser and her students; “to Scott Jamieson and Steve Sosak from Global Youth Media, for having the vision behind this project and for supporting the launch at ASH. We are also grateful, as always, for  Ms. Christopher, our middle school librarian, and Ms. Flaim, our middle school library assistant, who provided invaluable support during the research process. Finally, we also would like to thank Mr. Gordon for supporting us with the technology to record our debates.”


We build a better world as we become better human beings, hear and value every voice, keep every promise, and celebrate every achievement. 


We are determined to create a school where everyone is confident and able to take control of their own learning, and the world is our classroom.