This is a sample of an assignment that can be used to share difficult material with students in an organized, detailed way that emphasizes the logical connection between different pieces of information. It includes complete instructions to finish the assignment. In it, students read through a debate prepared in advance by their instructor.
For more information on setting up Kialo assignments of all kinds, see Setting Up an Assignment. You can also explore a demo of a debate for this type of Kialo assignment here. If you’re exploring Kialo for the first time, we also have a set of simple guides to integrating Kialo into your classroom.
This assignment can supplement primary sources (in a more advanced class) and replace secondary sources (in an introductory class). It is designed to be completed by students individually, prior to class discussion. Depending on the desired outcomes of the reading assignment, steps two and three may be optional.
Content this article covers:
- Basic Assignment
- Suggestions for Adaptation
Learning outcomes associated with this Assignment:
- Acquire knowledge about a subject area
- Explore links between ideas and concepts to be discussed in class
To prepare this assignment, you will need to create or copy a Kialo Edu discussion to share with your students. Depending on your goals, you may find a discussion on Kialo’s public site (kialo.com) that can be repurposed to your needs, or may need to start from scratch to write your own. If writing your own discussion, it can be advisable to keep a back-up copy that isn’t shared with your students, as a clean reference to be copied and used for future classes completing the same assignment.
Prior to our next class, you should read through the Kialo discussion that I have prepared for you. This is a resource that covers the material we will be discussing during the next class. It outlines the main points of our discussion, and provides links to primary sources and figures. The purpose of this assignment is to help you grasp the logical structure of the readings in advance of class, to have a chance to reflect on them, and to formulate questions and objections in advance of classroom discussion.
Step One: Go Through the Kialo
Go to the Kialo linked here. Look at the thesis and make sure it makes sense to you. One by one, go through each pro and con to the thesis.
As you are going through the Kialo, think about how it fits in with the other assigned reading. Follow links on claims that aren’t clear to you.
Suggestions for Adaptation
Below are some ways to extend this assignment or adapt it to different learning objectives or age groups.
Use to Consolidate Knowledge
While this assignment is structured as pre-class reading, a similar assignment can also be used to consolidate knowledge gained in class. You might set students a Kialo discussion to read immediately after covering concepts in class, as a review assignment prior to an end-of-term assessment, or to recap material at the end of a learning module.
No significant changes are needed to this assignment to use it for this purpose - simply update the chronological references to reflect the context in which you are asking students to complete the assignment.
Students Provide Thoughts and Perspectives While Reading
Whether setting this assignment prior to a class or as a review step, it can be useful to collect students’ thoughts and perspectives as they work through the discussion you have prepared. These additional steps allow you to do so.
Additional Student Instructions
Changes to Step One
Add to Step One:
Pay attention to where your classmates have already commented on claims, as they may have insights you would otherwise have missed.
Step Two: Comment On At Least Two Claims
After you’ve gone through the whole Kialo once, focus in on one or two sections of particular interest to you. It can be a section that you find particularly confusing, particularly enlightening, or that you think makes a critical error. Using the comment feature, ask at least two questions about these claims. For example, questions might ask for additional context or examples, challenge assumptions built into claims or raise counter-examples or arguments.
You should also feel free to comment on a question that a classmate has already asked, provided your comment adds something to the question asked. For example, you might be able to identify a potential example worth exploring in response to a classmate asking for an example.
Completing this step is crucial because it sets our agenda for class. I will use your questions to structure our in-class discussion. While we cannot necessarily take up all the questions raised, we will try to address as many as we reasonably can.
Step Three: Vote on the Kialo
Once you’ve gone through the Kialo and commented on at least two claims, you should use the “Guided Voting” feature to vote on the whole Kialo.
Reflecting on what is and is not persuasive is a crucial step in critical reasoning; and understanding what you and your classmates do and don’t find persuasive also helps me get a sense of where to focus our in-class efforts.