Yesterday, we published new advice and guidance associated with National 5 Biology associated with Inheritance.
There are a number of areas in this advice and guidance which would lend themselves to discussion in the classroom. What does this look like? What is the difference between learners talking, and discussing? Arguing and debating? What tools and approaches can be used to ensure learners are developing their skills in discussion, argumentation, and debate?
The teacher’s handbook from the English-Speaking Union (ESU) Scotland may be of use in planning for learning and teaching for the senior phase. 2012 is the year of the ESU’s Speak up Scotland! Science Debating project. Within the easily digestible, practical teacher’s handbook are a range of techniques and approaches which can be used to structure debate within the science classroom, and include all learners within the class. It explains how to plan and structure a formal debate, if that is what you are looking for, including how to structure a speech, a format for judging the content and skills of the participants – useful for teacher observation or peer evaluation. Other approaches described include balloon and role play debates. Exemplification is given for role playdebates in bio-prospecting and badger culling.
The booklet also contains starters for debates such as:
“this house would ban research on embryonic stem cells” – ties in with the National 4/5 qualifications in Biology and our published advice and guidance on Health and Disease.
Each section includes “fast facts”, and suggested questions to ask – does an embryo have human rights? how do we know how old the universe is? how do we control nanoparticles in our environment; or artificial organisms we create?
All of this is also available on the project website where you can find out how schools are using the debates and the feedback from learners.
If your learners need support in building confidence to speak in front of others, why not look back to our Debating in Schools resources published in 2007 which include Building Speaking Confidence: Guidance for first-time speakers.