Bringing history to life can be a daunting task. Often students settle for the facts and don’t always get the opportunity to understand that these events were lived out by real people and the decisions made were not easy ones! There were hard choices that needed to be made as well as serious sacrifices. My hope was that students would realize the hard work of thousands of soldiers who were men and woman and the battle they chose to fight in order to gain freedom.
In our study of the Declaration of Independence we decided to hold a debate. Using class materials, the students turned their notes into an argument both for and against the declaration of Independence. Each student got to spend a day on each team. Students were divided into 2 groups, the “Loyalists” argued the point that Independence should not be declared while the “Patriots” made the obvious arguments.
The results were very amazing! Students took their roles seriously and it led them to being creative in making up names, costumes and writing more than was expected.
Students argued forcefully to make their point and the debate was interesting. The issues became clearer and each student began to question things that students aren’t always asked to question!
The debate made this more than an assignment. It became more real and personal. They wanted to be heard. The students were even willing stay and use their part of their lunch time to continue debating!
Students need to understand how certain events in history shaped our nation and that the decisions that they make as citizens will not always be clear or easy. At times they won’t be heard and will have to continue to make their point because it is their right and they all have a voice.