To prepare, teachers invited Expert in Residence Colin Kelly, an attorney with Atlanta’s Alston & Bird, to speak to the students about the debate process, before they were asked to take a stand on civil disobedience — and debate whether or not the colonists were justified in their actions.
Students were teamed up and placed on opposing sides. They discussed what ideas caused conflict between Great Britain and the colonies which led to the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution. They prepared thesis statements to support their viewpoints with documented evidence and collaborated with their debate teams to prepare a compelling argument.
On the day of the debate, Patriots wore red. Loyalists wore blue. Parents and staff were invited to the debates to offer feedback in the form of: I like, I wish, What if.
Debaters tossed positions, evidence, statements and facts to the opposing side, demonstrating strong communication and collaboration skills as they worked to defend their positions: Who were the people who made all the difference? How did the development of the colonies lead to rebellion? When do people have the right to revolt against their government?
Once the debate was over, students were thrown a curveball. They were asked to further demonstrate their persuasive writing skills by crafting an essay taking the opposing side of the Patriots vs. Loyalists debate. Patriots would craft a persuasive essay defending the Loyalists, while Loyalists would write a persuasive essay defending the Patriots.
Fourth grade teacher Emily Trenney shares, “We were blown away by the deep understanding the students displayed as they spun historical events to fit their respective perspectives.”