It ranks right up there with the Holiday season, KC Chiefs football, and the first weekend of the college basketball tournament. It’s National Council for the Social Studies conference week. I’m lucky enough to get front row seats and am trying to live blog my way through it.
Like most of you, I first ran across the Structured Academic Controversy idea via Sam Wineburg and his Stanford History Education Group’s Reading Like a Historian curriculum. Specifically SHEG’s Was Lincoln a Racist lesson. But there’s always been that sense that Wineburg and his troop of SHEG geniuses adapted the strategy to fit their needs. And maybe I’ve been doing it wrong. So thanks Georgia Brown from Grayslake, Illinois who led a conversation this afternoon about what it can look like outside the SHEG universe.
So let’s start with the basics. What is a Structured Academic Controversy?
It’s a cooperative learning strategy developed brothers David and Roger Johnson to engage small groups of students in the discussion of controversial issues. Through a series of steps, add to their understanding of an issue or question. After students have fully explored and analyzed the pro and con arguments on an issue or question, they work as a group to reach a consensus on the issue.
So it’s not a debate. There are no winners and losers here. We’re just trying to find the best answer to the question. But looking at pros and cons gives kids the chance to look at multiple perspectives without the pressure of having to “win.”
Feel free to head over to the original Johnson brothers article and get their research and instructions. And you’re done. But we had a great conversation about what it can look like in the classroom so don’t be afraid to head back here for a few more tips and tricks.
Georgia started with the basic steps in the process she uses: Read more