Inspired by a blog entry from the good people at Facing History and Ourselves, I hacked a reliable schema building exercise for just that purpose: the KWL table. This activity calls for students to generate three different lists on a topic. The first column, "K," stand for what we KNOW about the topic. The "W" column is for what we WONDER. The "L" lists what we learned about the topic, the post-lesson reflection.
I decided that instead of using "K" for Know, we would consider "What we THINK we know about DACA and its Repeal." Using "what we think we know" allows for students to be wrong and to identify misconceptions we would need to clear up should we explore further.
|What you think you know about DACA|
Students next met in pairs, putting aside their sloppy copies. Dyads brainstormed what they thought they knew about DACA and it's repeal and what they wondered about the issue. They had a few minutes before we went around the room and contributed ideas and questions on the board.
After discussing both lists, I used the next few minutes to amplify how what we just did is a mini-version of what researchers do. Scholars and thinkers inventory what they think they know and generate questions. Next, we would investigate our beliefs to verify, correct, and clarify our preconceptions. And seek out what others might say.When I asked students how they met inquire for more information, they quickly responded that they could use the internet great formative assessment for me!). Since this is their first semester at college, I introduced the idea that they could ask their professors. New and first-generation college students need organic reason for speaking with someone they might not know how to approach. This is what I hoped I could provide - something that fit into the learning objectives of a course meant to introduce students to academic discourse and practices.
|What you wonder about DACA|
The other outcome had more to do with the interpersonal and relational aspect of being in a learning community. The answers students came up with, regardless of their position on the DACA repeal, indicated more than an intellectual concern but one about the human aspect of the ruling. Students saw that we could have a difficult conversation about real issues, building trust with each other, and themselves for being courageous enough to share opinions - privately, in pairs, and in the whole group. And hopefully, the activity affirmed their belief that college is an important place to explore meaningful issues.