If you ever have an opportunity to see Chris Luzniak speak on Debate Math at a Conference, I highly recommend it. I didn’t see him at CMC South because my friends Patricia Vandenberg and Matt Vaudrey were speaking at the same time on Bring Peace to your Pacing Guide. And I didn’t see him speak at the CPM Conference because there were already two colleagues from my district in his session, so I thought I’d get the information later from them, and went somewhere else.
Then, on Tuesday after the CPM Conference, I brought a former student who is getting a math credential to observe Patricia teach an Integrated Math 1 lesson, and we walked into her second day of Debate Math. The Chapter they were in was all the Congruent Triangle Shortcuts. I was blown away by the arguments Patricia’s students were making. The students seemed to use the sentence frames “My claim is….” and “My warrant is…” to stand confidently and share with the class.
One of the things I noticed immediately was that Patricia’s students used academic language and correct mathematical reasoning in their warrants which gave clout to their claims. And I think the students felt this because their body language standing up and stating their argument reminded me of a lawyer in court.
Another thing my former student thought of was that the debate math sentence frames could be used to have the students justify a statement while solving a problem. There was a point that the students were finding the missing leg of a right triangle and they had set up 3^2 + x^2=5^2 and he leaned over to me and whispered “Oh my gosh, you could have them do a Debate Math statement to explain how they set that up!” 😳 Immediately, I could see the possibilities for everyday lessons. (Thank you Patrick.)
After I witnessed that 1 lesson in Patricia’s class, I knew I had to have my students debate math. Patricia shared with me how her day 1 went so that I could try it too. (She used some different questions than mine below. )
The debate information to get them started:
So on day 1, give your students some generic, non math topics to debate. This will allow them to practice the sentence frames “My claim is” and “My warrant is” in a low stakes, easily accessible way. Also, it’s fun.
I gave my students 30 seconds to think, and write before sharing with their team. (They sit in teams of 4.). Then I did a whip-around. (A cooperative strategy where each team shares 1 thing.) I told my students that I needed one volunteer from each team and that on the next topic, I would ask for a different volunteer and they wouldn’t know what that topic was.
I went first.
“My claim is that Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the best show on television. My warrant is that it teaches me how to talk to my 2 year old when she has a meltdown at the grocery store. ”
The class burst into laughter.
Students shared their favorite shows. I heard Friends, Family Guy, Seinfeld, Jeopardy, Spongebob, the Office, and a bunch of shows I’d never heard of.
Second question. Same routine. Think time. Write. Share in teams. Whip around.
Groans. “I don’t drive. ”
I glance at that student. “My 7 year old daughter has an opinion about this. If you ride in a car, you have an opinion too.”
The younger students needed help knowing which freeway was which number, but soon there was a buzz.
My claim is the 10 freeway is the worst freeway in Southern California. My warrant is that there’s always traffic no matter what time of day. ”
“My claim is the 57 is the worst freeway in SoCal. My warrant is that where it merges with the 60 it always creates a backup. ”
“My claim is that all the freeways are the worst. My warrant is they all have traffic. ”
These were clearly Southern California kids.
On to question 3.
I explained to them that I wanted to know about middle school because I really didn’t want to hear how I was their favorite teacher 30 times.
This question really got the students talking. When it was time to share, they were jumping out of their seats.
The warrants I heard were all heartwarming.
“He believed in me. ”
“She always let me make up tests.”
“He was always cracking jokes. ”
“I learned so much in her class. ”
Topic 4. I saved the toughest for last.
The class oooooooohed at this one.
“What if we are in the middle?”
I told them they had to choose sides. At this moment in time, where do they stand on this debate?
For this one, since the debate was binary, I had the “yays” go to one side of the room and the “nays” on the other. I had them share their warrants with each other and choose three they thought best represented their side.
Believe it or not, there were students who chose the side to get rid of social media. The warrants?
– cyber bullying is on the rise.
– teen suicide is rising too.
– its a distraction.
– quality of life was better without it.
– it’s addicting
– it’s not really social interaction
– one student argued he’d never had social media and he was proof it’s possible to live without it.
Arguments for keeping it?
– all the people who work for the social media companies will lose their jobs. (?!?!?)
– it gives students a platform and an opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions. (Think Parkland teens)
– a way to stay in touch with friends and family
– use it to learn and for school
I was impressed with their arguments on both sides. Most students admitted after that question that they were in the middle of the issue and could see both sides of the issue.
After these 4 topics, my students were ready to debate math. But I will leave that for another post.
A little over a month has passed since this initial debate lesson. I finally got to see Chris Luzniak speak on Debate Math at NCTM. And he’s writing a book on Debate Math that will be coming out next year!
I’m finding as a teacher, it’s easy to find moments in a lesson where a debatemath moment emerges. I think like Notice and Wonder, it’s going to be a simple addition to any lesson I already do but with maximum impact.
Notice and Wonder tapped into my students curiosity and observation skills. Debate Math harnesses their desire to share their thoughts but in a constructive way. Once you use these with your students it’s simple to add into any lesson.