Saturday, May 14, 2016

Voting from Your Seat and on Your Feet Sharepoints: Get 'Em Moving - Then Get 'Em Writing

Voting from Your Seat and Voting on Your Feet

Voting from Your Seat and Voting on Your Feet are engagement strategies that never fail to get students excited about discussing opinion/argument topics. But at the end of the year – especially during an election year – it’s fun to toss out light-hearted topics and have students act as if they're important.


Voting from Your Seat
Voting Game #1

The first strategy, Voting from Your Seat, is a whole-class activity which requires almost no preparation. It can be used to re-energize sluggish students, to warm up a class, or to segue into an opinion/argument unit.

Here’s how it works:

Step #1:
The teacher makes a statement that is likely to spark disagreements. Then students express their personal positions by…
…remaining in their seats (disagreeing).
…standing up (agreeing).
…putting their hands on their desks (valuing both sides equally or feeling undecided).

Step #2:
The teacher calls on students who represent all three positions, and asks them to share their thinking.

One of the interesting perks of using this strategy is that the students who have placed their hands on their desks quickly realize that if they’re called on to share, they will have to talk about the pros and cons of BOTH sides of that topic. Therefore, they often wind up taking a position for or against topics - by standing or remaining seated - when future questions are posed.

Step #3:
It’s important to make it clear that there are no wrong answers.

In fact, teachers should support and extend the different positions that students take so that students understand 3 things:
1. The thinking and reasoning process is an important part of developing strong arguments.
2.  There are many different viewpoints to explore on any given topic.
3. Opinion-sharing helps participants strengthen positions or change positions.

Step #4: 
Opinion/argument quick drafts should be assigned immediately following this activity while the information is fresh in students’ minds - unless it is simply being used to recharge energy levels.   

Voting on Your Feet
Voting Game #2

Voting on Your Feet is a more active version of Voting from Your Seat. For this exercise, an agreeing poster, a disagreeing poster, and an agreeing and disagreeing poster are posted on three different walls or held by designated students.

As each topic is announced, students move to the posters which support their positions the best. The students gathered by each poster discuss their thoughts with like-minded voters. The teacher then calls on one group member to summarize the opinions of the entire group.

Topics to Test Drive Voting from Your Seat and on Your Feet:

Easy Topics
      1.  It is better to be a kid than an adult.
      2.  Batman is cooler than Superman.
      3.  I’d rather be attractive than smart.

Intermediate Topics
      1.  Money can buy happiness.
      2.  I would rather find true love than find a million dollars.
      3.  Students who break rules should be given a second chance.

Advanced Topics
  1. Competition is better than collaboration.
  2. Girls should be allowed to play on boys’ sports teams.
  3. Students should be able to leave school for lunch.

You can easily make your own cards and questions or you can pick up a premade set on TpT.

Wish Seekers and Decision Makers
Voting Game #3

This wildly popular game expands upon Voting from Your Seat or Voting on Your Feet. 

Once the replies to a vote have been shared aloud, place three chairs in the front of the room, and ask for volunteers to sit in them.  

Tell students to imagine that the people in the chairs are Decision Makers who must be persuaded to grant requests. 

If the vote is about extending the school year, the Decision Makers could be administrators or school board members.  If the vote is about whether someone should be granted true love or a million dollars, they could be genies or fairy godmothers.

These Decision Makers listen to the opposing sides of each Wish Seeker and then decide whether or to authorize a change or grant a wish by holding up a “Granted” or “Denied” score card after each Wish Seeker’s presentation. If both Wish Seekers offer convincing arguments, they could each leave the mock court with their wishes granted. 

The teacher may choose to ask one Decision Maker to explain a particular decision or the Decision Makers may be thanked for their service before they’re replaced by three new volunteers.

If you have an end-of-year strategy that keeps students engaged during the last few weeks of school or one that gets kids excited about opinion/argument writing, please share. I’d love to hear about it.

The next blog post in this active student engagement series is How to Run a Book Tasting Event.

Until next time…stay committed…teach with passion…and inspire students with who you are.

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