Debate about Chewing Gum

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Writing workshop in fourth grade is always a happy time for me. I teach three classes of fourth graders throughout the day. It always amazes, surprises, and excites me to learn more about my teaching through the experiences of each class. Each class has a different personality comparable to siblings. I don’t love one more than the other. It is always interesting to me when I find similarities and differences in how they interact, learn, and teach me each day. Let me take you into a glimpse of this during our lesson on opinion text writing yesterday. The students had just listened to a mentor text, “I Wanna Iguana” and they had returned to their desks to do an agree/disagree chart. The task was to read each opinion, then mark strongly agree, mildly agree, neutral, mildly disagree, and strongly disagree. Students responded to the task in a serious, thoughtful way.

After a few minutes of forming opinions and adding a few of their own on the chart, we focused on number four: chewing gum should be allowed. I asked the students to stand reminding them to be confident about their opinions and speak freely on the why of their thoughts. We proceeded to the line-up. We formed a line including me in order from strongly agree to strongly disagree with neutral in the middle. I encouraged any neutral thinkers to make a decision on one of the sides. This is the part that amazed me, in each class, there was two to five on the mildly/strongly disagree side. After we formed the line-up, we took a few minutes to support our thinking. On one side, we heard reasons like, “gum helps you focus and learn!” Another student said, “Gum will raise test scores!” On the opposite side, we heard, “Kids will smack, and blow bubbles.” “It will be distracting!” and “They will bug other people asking for pieces of gum.”

With each class, I was grinning bigger and bigger. I know I was amazed with the similarities I noticed. I was even happier on how thoughtful the students were. They were excited to share their thoughts and opinions. It renewed those feelings many years ago on why I became a teacher. I wanted students to be thinkers, confident problem solvers, and respect each other. I witnessed that today and I am proud to be a teacher.

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