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Take a Stand: Management in the Active Classroom

Management in the Active Classroom

Jill Znaczko's eighth-graders at the Expeditionary Learning Middle School in Syracuse, New York, debate the pros and cons of drafting soldiers during WWII using the Take a Stand protocol.

In this video, students and teachers are engaged with a protocol/engagement strategy from EL Education's grades 3-8 ELA curriculum.


- So the next protocol we’re gonna use will force us to now talk about what you’ve read, studied, and what you’ve written about. Students use this great protocol, Take a Stand, in order to express their opinions and listen to one another. I’m gonna read the next statement to you twice. Notice where strongly agree is. On one side of the room I have a sign for strongly agree. If you strongly agree with this statement I’m about to make you’ll stand closest to that, and on the opposite side of the room another sign for strongly disagree. Why might I stand right here in the middle?

- [Students] I don’t know.

- I’m not sure I agree with both sides, but hopefully my peers will give me enough evidence that I can form a stronger opinion about whether I agree or disagree with the statement. So here’s the first statement, “Drafting young men “to fight in the Vietnam war was necessary.” Take a stand.

- [Teacher] Students can place themselves then on that continuum.

- So we have Gavin way down here with strongly agree. All the way down to the end of our Take a Stand with Delana who strongly disagrees. Can I ask you Gavin to share your thoughts on strongly agreeing with the draft?

- People made up a theory, called the Domino Theory, that if one country became communist then the next would become communist and it would keep spreading.

- [Teacher] Students not only voice their opinion but they also justify their opinion with evidence.

- Communism was wrong, but we could’ve sent soldiers that were willing to go--

- [Teacher] Often times students will find themselves in a debate and very passionate over what they hear and what they’re standing for.

- I think it was wrong to take the freedom from the young men that they drafted.

- I agree because we needed to fight the spread of communism, but like they said, people were losing their freedom when they were getting drafted.

- We didn’t have to take young men just turning 18, to go fight a war that they really didn’t want no part in.

- Okay, Nylasia is moving. So Nylasia, you moved. Do you wanna explain why?

- Because I liked what Shania said.

- [Teacher] As students listen to their peers they are able to move along that continuum based on what evidence they agree with or what evidence they disagree with.

- During World War II if we didn’t have a draft and didn’t send military soldiers to go fight Germany, imagine what the world would be today.

- [Teacher] The movement on the continuum really demonstrated that students were able to identify relevant evidence to support an argument.

- After I listened to my peers they opened my mind a little bit more about the different views and stuff because at first I was just looking at it from my point of view.

- So Gavin’c comment, starting with “What if we didn’t “have the draft” made you move this direction?

- [Teacher] It was really exciting to see students move on the continuum based on what they heard one another say.

- I don’t want to be ruled by one person and that one person who we would’ve been ruled by was Hitler.

- [Teacher] It was very encouraging to see them be able to support both sides of an argument regardless of what their opinion was. I think our country has always been labeled as free.

- This protocol promotes students seeing different perspectives or a variety of perspectives about the same topic.

- Soldiers could have volunteered to go instead of having to be forced to go. Because like Collin said that’s not showing freedom.

- But not everybody was going to volunteer.

- Today I changed my opinion because I saw where my peers were coming from.

- How, as Aria said we didn’t really get what we wanted, we kinda did because-- I like this activity because everybody has to participate. You can’t just sit down. You have to get up and at least stand in one place.

- It was a nice, easy, and comfortable way to have an argument and you get to share your opinion with everyone and have fun doing it.

- So go ahead and take a stand. Take a Stand helps engage all students because it forces all students to physically take a stand in the classroom, state their opinions, listen to one another, and it also complements their writing because students are engaged in evidence based conversations. This protocol can also be a very helpful assessment tool for teachers.

- I think it was kinda pointless at the end of it because nobody won.

- [Teacher] As students share it is very clear how well they can justify their opinion or their argument, and how well they’re using relevant evidence to support their claim.

- Even though we didn’t stop all the communism we got most of it and we didn’t have the full Domino Effect, so technically they went for something, boom.

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