For the past couple weeks in my English class, we did this really cool activity which my teacher called a BRAWL, and what was really interesting about it is that it put a twist on the common debate, which I really loved about it.
A basic breakdown of what we did was, we had teams of about 3-4, and we’d get into these teams and discuss predetermined questions, and how we can apply it to books we were reading in class or modern events going on in the outside world, etc. And I thought that was really cool because, personally, I find debating really fun and I just thought it’d be a wonderful experience for me to let myself just go at it, I suppose.
Another really cool thing about our class’s BRAWL was that we were able to use outside media to help present our case as well!
And since we did two rounds of the BRAWL, we were able to make two slideshows with pictures and videos that corresponded with the questions we were to answer.
That was the more… Unique portion to our debates. I really enjoyed adding the media to it, because I felt it sort of gave it a more… a different depth to the learning. A history teacher of mine told me once that a teacher should try to go about teaching in 3 different ways: Content, Visual, and interactive, to get the full effect of the lesson.
At first, there wasn’t much of an interactive aspect of our BRAWL, but we were able to get our content down by discussing our views on how the questions related to the book and to real life, current events, other books, etc, and then the visual was part of our slide show, how the images or videos would relate to what we were talking about.
For example, one of the questions we were asked (which sadly my group was not able to address) was:
“As Bäumer is being scolded by an officer, on page 163, the officer describes how “Thank God, we have discipline here!”. Similarly, many adults believe that the current generation lacks discipline. Why do the older generation always lament the lack of discipline in today’s youth, what do they mean by discipline and HOW important is what they refer to as “discipline?” “
All the questions, by the way, were surrounded around quotes from a book we had read in class, All Quiet on the Western Front, a very lovely read by the way, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes books about life on the front, or books about war, this book specifically being about WWI.
Anyway, getting back on track, the image we used to capture our visual aspect was:
An image on students protesting their right to free education. And, what made me really mad was that I had a really wonderful debate for this question, surrounding how respect can have two extremely different meanings. A demand for equality, as in a younger peer asking for respect, in order to be seen as in equal by an older peer perhaps. And another connotation, which is a more condescending demand for respect, like a parent demanding a child to “respect” them, as in demanding the child to heed whatever the parent is saying, giving their full attention and support to the parent. And how that is similar to how discipline is used in this question, how discipline can be just, but it can also be a tool for keeping those out of power in line by those in power. I’m not going to put down my entire rant/speech I wanted to say, because it was actually pretty long, but I think the gist of it has gone across.
So anyway, we got perhaps 20 questions in total like that over 2 rounds, and there was a special third round which consisted of the three groups that had the highest scores in the previous two rounds, one of the groups included was my group!
I thought I did a very wonderful job debating myself, I’m fairly certain from the comments I heard from all my peers that my group won. Personally, I used a tactic that I actually learned from the popular TV show Parks and Recreation, by attempting a sort of filibuster-type speech, that I ended up talking for so long, the other groups didn’t really get a chance to get their points in, but I think my points worked out as well because they were pretty informative as well as academic, at least I thought so.
As I said before there are 3 parts to teaching, the Content, the Visual, and the interactive. I really loved what my teacher did for the interactive portion of this project, because first off, there was a desk with 3 buttons on it (which made animal noises so I spent a good 5 minutes pressing all the buttons multiple times) and each group had a chance to press the button when it wasn’t their turn to present the material, which gave them a chance to have their input and put down their points.
What I thought was especially neat about that was that, it was what sort of broke the common debate structure, and sort of made it more than just sitting there watching people talk it out, it gave the chance to put in your own input, even if it wasn’t your chance to speak.
Not only that, another portion of the debate was to post out thoughts on twitter, whether it be furthering the debates there or making idle chit chat with our fellow classmates, or posting pictures of what was going on. The twitter portion, though slow at first, I think was enjoyable for everyone. It integrated social media and the classroom.
Now, personally I’m pretty bad at working with social media, not in the sense that I don’t know what I’m doing, more int he sense that I’m really bad at remember I have social media accounts, and I end up forgetting all about them and abandoning my accounts by accident. By putting a grade on this, I was somewhat forced to use my social media account, and not only that I had lots of fun doing it, and I just thought that it really made me more interactive with the class, rather than just talking things out in the debate.
I actually ended up tweeting a lot for our group, which was really fun, it was like I was one of those quirky internet personalities where I got the chance to just tweet whatever.
There was also a good amount of interaction between my classmates and I as well.
Now you may ask, what exactly the point of this blog post was, well I guess I just wanted to share my experiences with my readers, and talk about why this stuff is important to me. I really love debating because you learn so many new things, from the other person’s point of view, why it is wrong, and why they think in such a wrong way, etc. Well in all seriousness, I really think I got to know my classmates better through this debate, and I got to see how their minds work and why they got to certain conclusions while I got different ones. It was different than just a presentation, it was discussion. it was talking. It was… socializing almost.
Personally I loved it. I worked really hard with my group to answer all my questions and get pictures, and I even debated several times, and I think this project really helped me get to know myself, my classmates, maybe even the book a lot better, because… I think when you read a novel, you aren’t really soaking in the entire novel. You’re kind of just getting the shallows, and I really hate that. I’m not very good at reading. I’m not very good at looking between the lines, getting context clues, understanding all those little symbols and hints, and just it frustrates me. Honestly, I’m not good at reading. I don’t like reading, but like, doing these fun activities with the books, I think it just helps so much. It helps me understand, it helps me interact. If I don’t get something, I was never afraid to ask my classmate, because hey, if i don’t understand the book, I can’t debate the book, and that means they fail with me, right? Well… I don’t know, I just thought it was a really interesting way to look at things, and just a really wonderful activity. I really hope I can take this to the next level one day.