But I left it to the experts, namely two of my students who both debate for me and took the class last year.
I sent the link above for feedback and got some great feedback from students. Here's one from one:
As I knew she would, she gave valuable insight, particularly about her concern that no one would take it seriously if the first one was a flop. Because she has experienced doing what I'm asking students to do her recommendations have far more weight than a teacher or administrator. It is always difficult to place ourselves in the mindset of the classroom and being 17 years old, having to preform a task. So why not ask those students?It's really good!It's a really good way to make them apply what they actually know, and discourage stupid in class arguments where everyone just says the same thing and gets really offended when people disagree.That second contention still annoys me though! Haha. I'll think about another way to say it or a resolution under the same category.Are you planning on pairing them up yourself or letting them do it? If you pair them up, I suggest having the names and schedules ready just so when they start to complain (obviously they will) you can say "shut up, I've had this done since August and your whining isn't changing it."If you do pair them up yourself, even though [student] and I could demo, you should probably choose kids you know for the first one, kids you know will be pretty good. That way everyone else is held to a high standard. If its a total flop on the first round, no one will take it seriously.Yay for Public Forum!Oh and 2 questions: why did you give them 3 minutes and are they going to be speaking fast?I wish I had three minutes, my summaries would be so much better!
Of course I choose specific students. This student is driven and hungry for challenges. She is intolerant of assignments that waste her time and she once told me that she would rather "learn in a class and hate the teacher rather than like the teacher and do nothing." She isn't going to give feedback that soft pedals an assessment and she isn't going to argue that a student's grade should be based on compliance.
The second contention that annoys her was the following: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially decrease its authority either to detain without charge or to search without probable cause. And she was right. This is a clunky open-ended resolution. She explained in an earlier email that the problem is that "substantially decrease" is so vague and ill-defined that the debate could lack a sound foundation.
She sent a follow up email:
Resolved: The Patriot Act is a threat to American civil libertiesShort and direct. Perfect.
The reason I post this is that I got to thinking... how often do you ask kids to take a direct hand in leaving their fingerprints on the kinds of assessments they get? I will say that this student is a particular kind of learner, but how much better would our assessments be if we actually had a conversation with former or current students on the kind of assessments that make the most sense?