Reflecting on Your Practice
- What topics in your course matter lend themselves to small-group discussion? How do you help students stay focused on content and group participation?
- How do you measure the success of group work?
- What controversial issues are raised in your course? How might you apply the rules of civil discourse or elements of cooperative learning to your subject matter?
- How do you prepare students for civil discourse on a controversial topic?
- What makes this kind of discussion effective?
Taking It Back to Your Classroom
- Ask students to research actual Supreme Court cases related to gender discrimination. For example, United States v. Virginia (1996) addresses the question, Does Virginia's creation of a women's-only academy satisfy the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause?
- Ask students to research Title IX as it applies to school sports teams. Have students prepare to debate the issues of equal funding for boys' and girls' sports, or whether girls should be allowed to play on the boys' football team and boys to play on the girls' field hockey team (two issues that have come up recently in the world of high school sports).
- Choose a controversial law or court ruling related to your curriculum, and develop a guiding question for small-group discussion. Before they begin, ask students to develop their own criteria for a successful discussion. Then use Mr. Rockey's "fishbowl" strategy to illustrate effective discussion and to evaluate student interactions.
- Have students analyze some or all of the actual text of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1972 amendments. Have them take notes and summarize what they learn from this primary source, then compare their notes with summaries found in secondary sources.
- Ask students to find Supreme Court cases related to racial discrimination, such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Ask them to summarize the finding in each case and explain the Court's changing view of racial bias over time.
- Have students research and take sides on an issue that is currently being debated in their local or state government. After research and discussion, make arrangements for students to express their views in a more public forum (for example, in a letter to the editor of the local paper or in a speech or presentation at a town council meeting). Encourage students to actively participate in the public discussion and debate process.
For related print materials and Web sites, see Resources.