Debates! We finally finished our argument reading and writing units. Tomorrow morning parents and administrators are invited to our fifth graders’ debates. This is the first time we culminate our units with an oral debate: small groups of students defending their stance on a topic. The topics are green energy, bottled water, recycling, and competitive sports. This year we have one student with sever dyslexia who reads at first grade level, two who read at 2nd grade level and a few more who read barely at third grade level. Most of these students have made strides. They will all be participating in the debates. They know their topics. They have rehearsed (today in front of the fourth graders), they have their note cards, most of them only glance at them while presenting their evidence, looking at the audience, all of them trying to stand with their feet planted, without fidgeting. We are six proud teachers! Some of the students have never spoken in front of a large group, outside their comfort zone, before. My 1st-grade reader has the last word in his group and I have heard he is beaming! He is not presenting in my classroom, but I will try to go take a peak (we combined the five classes into three debating rooms so there will be enough coverage). In spite of all the struggles, the arduous writing of their argument pieces especially, the somewhat different philosophies among us adults on how to best teach these units, we made it through, we learned from each other and from our students. It feels great!