For a look into a fully argument-centered classroom, click on the video below. You’ll view a 7th grade reading class at Peirce International School, taught by Donna Lawrenz, as they conduct table debates on young adult novels. The texts — Lord of the Flies, Camp, and The Goat — were selected and assigned by Ms. Lawrenz for their lexile levels, literary merit, and the interest they elicit in students (and teacher!).
Table debates are organized around a higher-order arguable issue on each novel — for example: Does Lord of the Flies express the view that human beings are too primal and animalistic to sustain orderly civilization? Debated (well) by 7th graders.
Peirce is in the second year of its partnership with Argument-Centered Education. What you can see in its argument-centered classrooms are several academic performance-producing elements:
- Full-class, energetic involvement
- Ease with text-based argumentation
- Refutation and the critical thinking it activates, tracked by students (difficult and unusual but essential)
- High expectations for all
- Results of teacher capacity-building
For additional views of argument-centered classrooms, take a look at the videos toward the bottom of this page.
Eighteen high school and middle school teachers from 11 schools across the city of Chicago took part in the Summer 2015 Argument-Centered Education Teachers College for two weeks in July. The Teachers College was held for four-hours daily and hosted by Bogan High School. Teachers received professional development credit, and some were paid by their schools for attending.