Implement and Evaluate – ADDIE


For the Implementation phase, I would like to use a Session Breakdown to illustrate how a student will approach the course. (Each video I selected is between 3-5 minutes in length, but I will use 5 minutes for the default time):

Course Goals 1: What is Ocean Acidification
Time Activity
5:00 Video
5:00 Multiple Choice Questions
FocusOn 1: What is pH?
5:00 Informational Slide in Captivate
5:00 Quiz
Learning Outcome1
5:00 Video
5:00 Quiz
FocusOn 2: What is a Marine Food Web?
5:00 Informational Slide in Captivate
5:00 Quiz
Learning Outcome2
5:00 Video
5:00 Quiz

This branch of the course will take approximately 50 minutes to complete. A 10 minute break before starting the next segment is allotted, with the
expectation that one hour will be needed to complete each segment of the course. The Session Breakdown continues with:

Course Goals 2: What is Carbon Dioxide
Time Activity
5:00 Video
5:00 Multiple Choice Questions
FocusOn 3: Explore the Carbon Cycle
5:00 Informational Slide in Captivate
5:00 Quiz
Learning Outcome3
5:00 Video
5:00 Quiz
FocusOn 4: Effects of CO2 on Ocean Water
5:00 Informational Slide in Captivate
5:00 Quiz
Learning Outcome4
5:00 Video
5:00 Quiz

Course Goals 3: Solutions
Time Activity
5:00 Video
5:00 Multiple Choice Questions
FocusOn 5: Awareness and Education
5:00 Informational Slide in Captivate
5:00 Quiz
Learning Outcome5
5:00 Video
5:00 Quiz
FocusOn 6: How You Can Help
5:00 Informational Slide in Captivate
5:00 Quiz
Learning Outcome6
5:00 Video
5:00 Quiz

Three hours of course material is the goal.The use of Captivate, a rapid development tool, will streamline the developmental process.
Students have the ability to be self-paced learners. With each video and quiz set only taking 10 minutes to complete, the ability to work through the course in sections will appeal to a learner with a heavy schedule. All student outcomes can be monitored through LMS, and a variety of test-taking skills will be utilized. Students will use visual and auditory skills watching the videos, and will use comprehension and retention skills to complete the quizzes.


For the Evaluation phase, first an answer to the question: “Did the instruction solve the problem that was identified in the Needs Assessment?”:
This is the first line of my Needs Assessment: The purpose of this course module is to educate students on the environmental problem of Ocean Acidification. The identified goals and purpose of this module were to educate the learner on the existence of Ocean Acidification, to explain the conditions that created this situation, and to encourage the student with information on how to help reduce the causes of the problem. I do feel that this course addressed the Needs Assessment well. I have listed the subject matter learned and the order in which it appears, in the Implementation phase above.

Secondly, a review using Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Evaluation:

Level 1 – Reaction – How well did the learners like the learning process?
I will assume that the students were deeply interested. This problem is one that will affect their generation and is a problem that is still “fix-able”, which usually piques people’s interest. The presentation includes a lot of media, using YouTube videos that were created for the general public. I selected videos that didn’t present subject matter in a dense, non-visual way because I understood that the targeted age group would respond to the speed, sound, and colors of a video clip from, for example, the Alliance for Climate Education ( with more interest.

Level 2 – Learning – What did they learn?
They learned the definition of Ocean Acidification, they learned about pH, acidity, marine food webs, the definition of CO2 (carbon dioxide), the carbon cycle, the effects of CO2 on ocean water, and then they learned about ideas (using green energy, reducing your carbon footprint, etc.) to control the worsening of this environmental problem.

Level 3 – Behavior – What changes resulted from the learning process?
If I were measuring the transfer of knowledge to the students and monitoring their behavior, I would hope to see an awareness that did not exist before they studied the module. The desired change would be a heightened interest in the problem and further research into the causes and effects of excessive CO2 in our environment.

Level 4 – Results – What are the tangible results of the learning process?
I would need to evaluate the learner and summarize the results that are attributable to time spent learning from this course module. If this class were included as a module that fit into a larger framework, then tangible results would be the student’s ability to understand what CO2 is, and their ability to apply that knowledge to continued classwork.
I also want to mention that I did see the need for feedback from the students, with regard to what they were being taught. Formative evaluation of the module occurred when students were tested after each topic section, and their scores were studied. There were 15 tests in total, within the module. Summative evaluation would occur after the module is completed. A link for a Likert Scale Online Evaluation Survey would be emailed to the student, using the free version of the online service, “SurveyMonkey,” to create the survey:

The Likert items in the survey would be: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree, and Strongly Agree
Student Online Evaluation Questions (limited to 10 in the free version of SurveyMonkey):

Course Content Questions:
1. Course length and pace was appropriate for the topic.
2. Course content was clear and easy to understand.
3. The videos, illustrations and interactions were used effectively.
4. Materials expanded my understanding of the content to a new level or deeper degree.

Instructor Questions:
1. The topics covered provided enough information.
2.The instructor collected enough information to adequately evaluate my performance.

Class Technology Use Questions:
1. The technology used in the course supported the goals of the course.
2. I could navigate the module easily.

Free Response Questions:
1. In what ways has the course influenced your understanding of the subject?
2. What was the most significant learning experience in this course?

Develop – ADDIE

Course content is the focus of the development phase for this module’s instructional design. Learning materials are listed in the Analysis Flowchart, and also listed here in more detail.

Videos – The online videos that will be used as instructional material are:

  • “World Oceans Day – Ocean Acidification”, created by XPRIZE Insights and published on YouTube.
  • “What Is Carbon Dioxide?” created by MonkeySee, and published on YouTube.
  • “Ocean Acidification,” created by the Alliance for Climate Education, and published on YouTube.
  • “What is pH,” created by LearnBiologically, and published on YouTube.
  • “The Carbon Cycle,” created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and published on YouTube.
  • “Ocean Acidification,” created by the NC Aquarium, Fort Fisher, and published on YouTube.
  • “Science Bulletins: Acid Oceans,” created by the American Museum of Natural History, and published on YouTube.

Websites For Further Information-

Quizzes –

  • True/False Quizzes: Focus On1: What is pH, Learning Outcome4 Quiz
  • Sequence Quizzes: Focus On2: What is a Marine Food Web, Learning Outcome3 Quiz
  • Fill-In-The-Blank Quizzes: Focus On3: Explore the Carbon Cycle, Learning Outcome6 Quiz
  • Matching Quizzes: Focus On4: Effects of CO2 on Ocean Water, Learning Outcome1 Quiz
  • Drag-Drop Quizzes: Focus On5: Solutions – Awareness & Education, Learning Outcome2 Quiz
  • Multiple Choice Quizzes: Focus On6: How You Can Help, Learning Outcome5 Quiz, 3 Course Goals Quizzes

Organizational Strategy –
The Analysis Flowchart shows a structure that includes an introduction, the presentation of three key concepts, followed by lessons that support the key concepts, then additional material is presented for guided study of specific topics. This presents a strategy of using the broader topics to introduce the learner to a general level of information, followed by smaller sub-modules to help the student work with more complex information. This can be seen as a scaffolding technique of instruction, with lesson progression allowing for the integration of newly acquired knowledge.

Course Management –
This course is designed for an e-Learning environment. An LMS such as Moodle would be an ideal way to present the course. It would record quiz/test scores and allow access to learning materials wherever an internet connection is available. Emails and other correspondence between students and instructors would be held in one location, which would help streamline the overall class environment.

Design – ADDIE

Instructional Goals and Objectives:
The design of this learning module incorporates a systematic process of transferring educational content to the student. The learner begins with three introductory levels of course material, focusing on a general, conceptual understanding of the subject matter. They are labeled, “Course Goals” and numbered 1 – 3. Once this foundational information is viewed, the student works through multiple choice quizzes, the intent being to quickly reinforce knowledge transfer of the material that was just presented.

Sequence and Organization:
The opportunity to drill down into specific categories of course material is the next design phase. This branch of instruction is labeled, “Focus On” and numbered 1 – 6. The “Focus On” set of content encourages the integration of new knowledge with previous knowledge by placing a selective focus on key information. Reviews, analogies and examples are listed on the website page to encourage examination. Students are then expected to demonstrate progress by completing a series of interactive activities. This branch of the course is named “Learning Outcomes” and is also numbered 1 – 6. Students are tested for retention and transfer using drag and drop tests and quizzes.

Instructional Strategy: My course goals support a constructivist pedagogical philosophy by incorporating learner based activities that help students measure their own progress. They are able to freely move between the course modules and have supporting educational material to view (videos) that offer extremely clear, well documented information. The purpose of this course is to educate students on a very specific form of environmental hazard that our oceans are experiencing, and the progression of general to very specialized information is supported in the structure of the course. Each student will learn the facts, then be encouraged by the “Solutions” Course Goal, and it’s subset of lessons. It is an intentional goal to not frighten or worry students with environmental warnings, but to teach them the hopeful and promising aspects of working toward attainable solutions to the problem. Examples of this can be seen in the videos listed in the “Solutions” category, where scientists and local people work toward a better outcome for a sustainable future with healthy oceans.

Learners: This instructional module is for anyone interested in learning how human activities influence the health of the ocean ecosystem. The targeted intellectual age group for this module is high-school to young adult students. More information is detailed in the Learner Analysis in the Analysis phase.

Context: The context of content development for this course involves the general characteristics of a Common Core Earth Science course, as well as a deeper examination of the topic to further educate the learner in a specific aspect of Environmental Science.

Assessments: Assessment activities throughout the course occur when students engage in course-ware testing. Criteria for the assessments include a need to measure knowledge and comprehension after each course level is introduced. Assessment instruments would include a number of different testing methods such as: True/False Quizzes, Sequence Quizzes, Fill-In-The-Blank Quizzes, Matching Quizzes, Drag-Drop Quizzes and Multiple Choice Quizzes.

Delivery Method: This course will be delivered as a web based, e-learning experience. Students will engage in asynchronous study and will need access to a pc or mobile device with an Internet connection. The student will use a browser to open the Captivate learning module and will read all course content online.

Mockups of website pages:

Analysis – ADDIE

Needs Analysis:
The purpose of this course module is to educate students on the environmental problem of Ocean Acidification. The specific behaviors that produce this situation, namely man-made pollution, will be explored. Students will also be educated toward an understanding and appreciation for the inter-dependency all life shares on this planet. By the end of this course, students will understand and value the importance of how changes in the ocean ecosystem affect marine and human life.

Task Analysis:
The attached flow chart diagram illustrates the paths of instruction for this learning module. The actual flowchart was created in Popplet and can be viewed here:

Learner Analysis:
This instruction is developed with high school students as the targeted age group. NC Common Core 8th grade science education includes Earth/Environmental Science courses. An example of course material from the NC Essential Standards website: “Analyze the impacts that human activities have on global climate change (such as burning hydrocarbons, greenhouse effect, and deforestation)”, and “Attribute changes in Earth systems to global climate change (temperature change, changes in pH of ocean, sea level changes, etc.).” Students will have been introduced to the concept of Ocean Acidification, but within a broader lesson plan.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this instructional module a student should be able to:

  • Define Ocean Acidification.
  • Describe how scientists are able to measure the acidity of ocean water.
  • Explain how excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere affects seawater.
  • Understand how human-caused ocean acidification impacts marine life.

Delivery Method:
An  e-learning module will be created. Slides will include educational  content that is supported with quizzes, videos and drag-drop interactions.

Implications of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for the Design of Online Courses

With the question of curriculum that suits all learners, instructors recognize the problem of student variation in the classroom. There are students who are unable to connect with the day’s lessons, particularly when a hearing or sight difficulty is the cause. Whether the limitation is caused by physical, neurological or cultural differences, teachers accommodate their learners by altering how they present information, structure assignments and test for comprehension.

A unique situation emerges when the learning environment is online. Through computer technology, lessons are available to a widely diverse group of students. While removing barriers for the disabled is a primary catalyst for altering online learning material, the maximization of all online student potential can be realized by following the guidelines set forth in the Universal Design for Learning principles.

Key Concepts
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an educational framework, based on research in the progressive learning sciences which guides the development of flexible, educational environments that will accommodate individual learning differences.

The UDL framework was first defined by David H. Rose, Ed. D., of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and personnel from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), in the 1990s. This consortium of educators understood that the way individuals learn can be unique, and set out to create a curriculum that provides:

  • Multiple Means of Representation, to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge. Examples may include online organization and design, such as creating a class web page, blog or wiki to store information throughout the class year.
  • Multiple Means of Expression, to provide learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know. Alternative modalities of expression can include multimedia presentations, audio clips and video presentations.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement, to tap into learner’s interests, challenge them appropriately, and motivate them to learn. Online courses can utilize collaborative tools such as VoiceThread and Padlet, as well as synchronous and asynchronous discussions, to encourage student participation and interaction in an online environment.

With the use of these three guiding principles as a blueprint, the resulting curriculum provides built-in flexibility for the learner. The curriculum adapts to the student, not the other way around. UDL design for online learners can include any of the following:

  • Facilitated and self-paced online courses
  • Use of digital and online resources such as multimedia, close-captioning video, audio files, and interactive material, instead of focusing on one textbook
  • Use of flexible grouping, peer support, and the practice of collaborative teaching
  • Instructional technology that can be read by mobile devices and screen readers

Literature Review
Associate Professor Ye He, an instructor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education, UNC Greensboro, has written a very comprehensive paper entitled, Universal Design for Learning in an Online Teacher Education Course: Enhancing Learners’ Confidence to Teach Online.

He discovered that his own students, who were teacher candidates, did not necessarily have the teaching skills required to address a student population who expected to be educated online. As quoted from his paper:
It is projected that by 2020, 50% of high school classes will be offered online (Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2011). As Hathaway and Norton (2012) pointed out, “The issue is no longer whether or not online learning is or should occur, but rather how it is implemented” (p. 146).

With this sobering news, the Professor set out to measure his student’s experiences when learning through an online course. He created quality online material using UDL principles, then gathered data from each student when they took the course. Their direct contact with the challenges and benefits of online learning gave them a greater understanding of the process, and their perception of the need and desire for online education was heightened, too. From his paper:
Benefits of learning online. The majority of the participants in this study (20 out of 24, or 83%) referred to pacing and flexibility as the key benefit of learning online. Specifically, at the beginning of the semester, participants commented that online learning offers a more “flexible schedule,” easy access, and reduced time and cost for travel than was typically required for F2F classes. (Ye He, 2014).

Another paper that offers a thorough examination of UDL as a method for online instruction is authored by Cindy Ann Dell, Thomas F. Dell and Terry L. Blackwell and is entitled, “Applying Universal Design for Learning in Online Courses: Pedagogical and Practical Considerations.”
This paper is very comprehensive and has the added benefit of the inclusion of practical steps to implement UDL into courseware successfully. Quoted from their paper:
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (n.d.) provides a comprehensive guide to implementing UDL in online classes. Their Ten Simple Steps toward Universal Design of Online Classes include a guide for the creation and design of an online class using UDL. These include:
1) Create content first-then design
2) Provide simple and consistent navigation
3) Include an accommodation statement
4) Choose content management system (CMS) tools carefully
5) Model and teach good discussion board etiquette
6) Use color with care
7) Provide accessible document formats
8) Choose fonts carefully
9) Convert PowerPoint to HTML
10) If the content is auditory make it visual, if it is visual make it auditory

These 10 steps are consistent with the three basic principles of UDL presentation, which include providing the students with multiple opportunities to learn with various ways for them to acquire knowledge (presentation), demonstrating what they know (action and expression) and encouraging students’ interest while challenging them (engagement and interaction), as well as increasing motivation and self-regulation (ACCESS Project, 2010; CAST, 2008; Rose & Mayer, 2008).

Further explanation of the Ten Simple Steps is included in the paper, with illustrations added to highlight the correct and incorrect handling of design issues such as font selection and the use of color in graphic elements. A flexible, responsive curriculum is the ultimate goal and the authors emphasize this by consistently offering detailed explanations of key implementation issues in the UDL process.

The implications of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for the Design of Online Courses should be seen as a welcome development in the use of technology to reach a vast and diverse group of students. As Professor He noted, by 2020 half of all high school classes will be offered online. These young students will be introduced to the rudimentary skills of online collaboration and learning by the growth of online education. For some, there will be challenges that might become barriers to their education, but the use of UDL principles offers an innovative, inclusive alternative that reaches across borders and physical limitations. Universal Design for Learning is intended to “increase access to learning by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers to a comprehensive learning experience.” (Karger, J. 2005) This is a promising, motivational change in the area of instructional design and is one to be celebrated.

Ye He, (2014). Universal Design for Learning in an Online Teacher Education Course: Enhancing Learners’ Confidence to Teach Online, MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 10, No. 2.
Hathaway, D., & Norton, P. (2012). An exploratory study comparing two modes of preparation for online teaching. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 28(4), 146-152.
Dell, Cindy Ann, Dell, Thomas F., & Blackwell, Terry L. (2015). Applying Universal Design for Learning in Online Courses: Pedagogical and Practical Considerations. The Journal of Educators Online-JEO, Vol. 13, No. 2.
From “Ten Simple Steps toward Universal Design of Online Classes” (n.d.). Retrieved from University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Karger, J. (2005). What IDEA and NCLB suggest about curriculum access for students with disabilities. The Universally Designed Classroom: Accessible Curriculum and Digital Technologies. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Literature Summary – Chapter 3: Postcolonial Approaches to Literacy: Understanding the ‘Other’

Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies, 2015
Chapter 3: Postcolonial Approaches to Literacy: Understanding the ‘Other’

Dr. Rahat Naqvi is the author of Chapter 3: Postcolonial Approaches to Literacy: Understanding the ‘Other.’ She is an Associate Professor of Languages and Diversity Education at the University of Calgary, Canada. She was born and raised in Pakistan, where she received a “dual education” in English and Urdu, her native language, as well as in Christian and Muslim religious studies. She eventually moved to Paris to study and teach French. Her work centers on dual language pedagogies, and she lectures internationally on the subject.

I will begin by analyzing the title to this chapter’s essay. The first half of the title, “ Postcolonial Approaches to Literacy,” begins with the idea of post-colonialism, which is a sociological position that has been studied since the second half of the 20th century. Numerous scholars have shown how people who were colonized by European powers not only appropriated the manners and language of their colonizers, but they reworked the language and culture into a unique literacy, one that they could call their own. As Dr. Naqvi wrote, the colonized people were “speaking back” to the European colonialists that moved through Asia, Africa and other parts of the world in past centuries. They were “reframing the language, intellect and strategies” (p.50) of their colonizers. Dr. Naqvi states that the field of education needs to revisit and
re-examine this phenomenon, that “the focus of the teaching of critical literacy is to generate alternatives to dominant and taken-for-granted social imaginaries”(p.50).

The second half of the title, “ Understanding the ‘Other’,” refers to acknowledging this societal imbalance between people who have been colonized and the colonizers. She uses the terms “the oppressed” and “the oppressors” to highlight instances where power has forced a group of people into subservient social positions. She questions whether we can even see the distinctions between cultures anymore, since the impact of a distant colonization on our lives is not necessarily obvious. The term ‘the Other’ acknowledges people who have not had a voice, and her use of the word “Understanding” makes it clear that she hopes for deeper knowledge, and a more socially just environment for all.

Her choice of work to introduce under the heading, Historical Perspectives, is interesting, because the author she quoted was writing in the 1990’s, not usually considered a historical distance of time, but his perspective was brilliant. His name is Homi Bhabha and he is a scholar
from India who currently heads the Humanities Center at Harvard University. He coined the term, “third space” to define the area where two cultures collide. It is in this area where new cultural identities can be formed from the traditional ways of thinking of each culture. For true
success, this reformulation needs to occur with an integration of all aspects of a new, multicultural world; something that can be difficult when the colonized are migrant or nomadic people. Bhabha writes of “hybridity” and “mimicry” (p.53) to explain the blending between
these indigenous and colonial cultures. Dr. Naqvi deduces that, in this instance, the goal of critical literacy should include the development of an area, or boundary, where communication can occur, as opposed to defining the end result of integration as nothing less than the successful
blending between two cultures in order to form a new identity.

On the topic of current research, Dr. Naqvi begins with a very sensible appeal for the efforts of different cultures to appreciate each other. She writes of a civil society, where people can acknowledge their differences and learn from their unique experiences. She feels this is a much more realistic approach to the fact of a multicultural world than the efforts made historically to “eliminate the Other” (p.56). She also realizes how difficult a task this can be!

She suggests that children be educated from a young age with the skills for critical thinking and questioning. The power relationship between dominant and subordinate cultures can be examined with an unbiased understanding when the lessons of analysis are applied. She envisions classrooms that are open-minded and instructive when students are allowed to explore other cultures and form their own opinions. She also sees language instruction as an ideal method to introduce students to new cultural experiences.

In conclusion, Dr. Naqvi maintains that the goal of becoming aware of a post-colonial world includes an acknowledgment of multi-culturalism on every level of human interaction. She believes the process of personal cultural integration leads to integration on a much larger scale
within the world community. She also affirms that the duality of cultures is at the center of the immigrant experience and this duality can be seen as a bellwether for change with respect to the sharing of unique perspectives and experiences among the world’s cultures.

This is a very elegant and heart-felt study on the subject of multi-culturalism and the world’s response to co-habiting with people who may be seen as ‘the Other.’ At the beginning of the chapter, Dr. Naqvi quoted the African American writer, W.E.B. Du Bois, and she ends this chapter with the exact same quote, which is certainly worth repeating here:
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others. – Du Bois, 1903

Dr. Naqvi has lived the immigrant experience, first-hand. She grew up in an environment that was under British rule and she remembers well the efforts made during her schooling to expose her to both Western and Asian perspectives, as well as multiple languages and religions.

For myself, living in an urban area like Charlotte, NC, I have an opportunity to meet many different people from many cultures and to explore the various ways I can reach out and help create that bridge of understanding. The “third space” can be seen as an opportunity or a
threat depending on a person’s perspective, but as educators, it is imperative that we acknowledge our differences and embrace the sharing of cultures, in an effort to increase tolerance and educational enlightenment in our classroom environments.

Case Study and Interview – Songs of the Poets

Songs of the Poets – Poetic New Literacies by the artist, Kate Chadbourne

The literacy practice that I have selected for this case study is the work of the artist, Kate Chadbourne. Specifically, it is her work that culminated in the creation of a poetry and music CD entitled Songs of the Poets. Songs of the Poets was released in February of 2016, and is a collection of 13 English and Irish poems that are set to music for voice, harp and piano. Kate is
the composer and performer of this music and her choice of poetry ranges from 18 th century Irish folk poems to the poetic stylings of ee cummings and Sara Teasdale. A strong set of literacy events led to the production of this beautiful collection of songs, plus the instructional resources
she provides, through print, digital and social means, are a compelling example of a literacy practice that attains wider social and cultural goals.

Transactional Theory, As it Applies to Poetry

Kate Chadbourne and her music CD, Songs of the Poets

At the heart of Songs of the Poets is the varied selection of poems that Kate chose to explore. They are, in order:
1. In Just-Spring by ee cummings
2. Moonlit Apples by John Drinkwater
3. Na Cait a Bhi ag Fionn Mac Cumhaill – Irish folk poem
4. On the Sussex Downs by Sara Teasdale
5. Red-Haired Lady by Reilly Platt
6. Recuerdo by Edna St. Vincent Millay
7. She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon Byron
8. She’s the Blackberry Flower – Anonymous/Irish
9. The Witch Wife by Edna St. Vincent Millay
10. The Songs of Wandering Aengus by W.B. Yeats
11. Valentine by Elinor Wylie
12. Something told the wild geese by Rachel Field
13. Across the Door by Padraig Colum

Kate’s own description of this CD on her website includes a welcoming request for the listener to move closer to the subject matter and experience the transcendent qualities of poetry and music more deeply. She writes:
I’m in love with poetry and with the delight and depth it brings to our lives. Setting poems to music has occupied me happily for the last 20 years or so and this collection is the fruit of that labor. The poems themselves stand alone – magnificent and complete just as they are. Songs of the Poets is in essence my passionate response to several poems that I love. I hope it will help you connect with these poems with deeper appreciation and enjoyment – and perhaps spur you to a passionate response of your own! (Chadbourne, 2016)

It is clear from this quote that Kate understands her CD to be a potential catalyst toward a richer experience with multiple literacies. Her suggestion that the listener can be motivated to their own passionate response brings to mind the reader response transactions Louise Rosenblatt included in The Reader, the Text, the Poem: Transactional Theory of the Literary Work (1978). In an essay published by April Sanders entitled, Rosenblatt’s Presence in the New Literacies Research, Sanders quotes Rosenblatt as stating “a novel or poem or play remains merely
inkspots on paper until a reader transforms them into a set of meaningful symbols” (Rosenblatt, 1983, p. 24). Sanders continues the quote by writing “text does not contain a single meaning; the text and the reader combine to create meaning and a unique transaction.”

Rosenblatt’s transactional theory was written before the advent of current digital technology and the emergence of new multimodal literacies, but the experience that the reader creates with a literacy event can still be connected to the unique transactional reader response that Rosenblatt described. Sanders writes “Literacy, which has historically only included
traditional reading and writing, is morphing to include the Internet, email, instant messaging, avatars, virtual worlds, wikispaces, web page design, multimedia applications, and gaming”(Sanders, 2012, p.2).

Social Media Tools as a Literacy Event
The reader response that Kate Chadbourne has encouraged through her print literacy also extends to the writings on her website and blog. She has made available a resource book for Songs of the Poets that can be downloaded freely from a link on her website. It is an e-book, in
.pdf format, and contains the texts of the poems, biographies of the poets, discussion questions and suggested activities for each poem, all with the intent to spark imagination.

a page from Songs of the Poets Resource e-Book

When I interviewed Kate, the first question I asked her centered on her use of social media as a tool to create the CD and to connect with her audience. She reminded me that the first social media event she created was a Go Fund Me page! I had forgotten that she needed to raise
funds to begin the process of producing Songs of the Poets. Her Go Fund Me page was a great success. It raised more money than she had requested and it gave her a great deal of encouragement. She used multiple media events to support the page. She created videos where she sang and talked to her listeners. She wrote messages and posted photos on a Facebook page that linked to the Go Fund Me page. She created her own channels on YouTube and Vimeo and uploaded additional videos, always talking, playing an instrument or singing to the audience.

Connecting to her audience with video on Go Fund Me

Figure 5, YouTube channel uploads

She used GarageBand to create digital recordings, then uploaded songs to SoundCloud and used SoundCloud as a place to test her recordings, as if it was a digital rehearsal space.

SoundCloud music channel

Embracing a multimodal approach allowed Kate to experience what Kirsten Perry refers to as a socially-contextualized practice in her essay, What is Literacy? – A Critical Overview of Sociocultural Perspectives (2012). Perry writes “Multimodality implies that meaning-making occurs through a variety of communicative channels in which written linguistic modes of meaning are part and parcel of visual, audio, and spatial patterns of meaning” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000, p. 5). Perry suggests that the practice of social literacies is “dynamic and malleable,” and
that practices can “vary across diverse communities” (Perry, 2012).

One of Kate’s great strengths lies in her ability to connect with diverse communities and share her art in ways that support communication on a deeper level. An interesting aspect, and assumption, of a multimodal process is the participatory nature of the social and cultural exchange. With an abundance of social media tools that Kate had at her disposal, there was an implied understanding that her audience would understand these digital tools, and could participate in the online events she was preparing to share. A similar comparison could be made for the literacy events that are attached to her performance of poetry in song form.

During our interview, she discussed her thoughts on poetry’s accessibility through different forms and structures. She felt that her music changed the audience’s perception of poetry. People told her they didn’t feel intimidated when the poetry was set to music, and could listen without fear of not “getting” the poetry. This similarity in form and structure points to shared attributes between her social media and social literacy events, where flexibility and “malleability” are needed to support
participants with vastly different abilities.

Social Literacy Events
Kate mentioned in her interview how much she appreciates the time she spends with people. Her social literacy events have been attended by the youngest and the oldest of people.

a school performance

In Digital Texts and the New Literacies (A. Webb, 2007), we are reminded that “ As literature goes from print to digital formats, rich possibilities are opening up to deepen and extend teaching and learning. In this sense, teaching digital texts as part of the new literacies offers us not so much a revolution as an evolution.”

The evolution of poetry, one of our oldest spoken art forms, into a shared social literacy event that can reach people across the globe in a matter of seconds, is a remarkable acknowledgment of the sociocultural context in which new literacies are being used. Songs of the Poets exemplifies an art form in transition, and in the capable hands of Kate Chadbourne, it is an
art form that will continue to be shared and cherished by people for many years to come.

a poetry workshop in the Zoom app

Interview with Kate Chadbourne
I asked Kate two long, detailed questions, keeping the focus on her literacy events and practices with the creation of Songs of the Poets. She answered both questions with equally detailed and wonderfully thoughtful answers.

Question 1
Social Media tools have become valuable mediums for online communication. Programs like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram allow people to share ideas and artistic content. Did you use these tools during the process of creating an online identity for Songs of the Poets? If so, which tools were valuable and successful to use, and which ones were not? Are there social media tools that aren’t listed above that you found valuable in your efforts to create an online presence for Songs of the Poets?

Kate: Facebook was the social media tool I used most throughout the project, and especially in conjunction with the Go Fund Me campaign that I ran to raise funds to print and press the CD. Go Fund Me shares campaign posts to Facebook and that was hugely effective in getting the
word out and receiving support. I used YouTube to create videos of me talking about the poems or performing some of the compositions and then shared those with Facebook or through the Go Fund Me campaign. I also sometimes used SoundCloud as a host for simple audio recordings I
made using GarageBand. These were preliminary to having an engineer come to my house for a live recording of the songs on my own freshly-tuned piano.

I was stunned at the effectiveness of the Go Fund Me / Facebook combination. My patrons’ generosity paid for the cost of manufacturing and also allowed me to hire help in formatting the cover and inner panels – a task which would have taken me AGES! Receiving such support, both
financial and emotional, meant and continues to mean the world to me. It’s easy to feel as an artist that you’re whistling into the wind, having these wonderful, private experiences of creation but that no one else really cares. What the Go Fund Me taught me is that other people value the
chance to be part of an artistic creation. Not all of them are poetry lovers – but they see the value of sharing poetry in fresh ways. That experience made a deep impression on me. I felt that my work was seen, understood, and valued – and it truly wouldn’t have been possible without these

The other tool, of course, was my own ever-evolving website and blog. I wrote about the process of creating the songs and later about what I learned from running the Go Fund Me campaign. I linked those posts to Facebook and that helped grow awareness of the project, too.
And finally, though this may fit under the next question, I also connected with people through a series of house concerts at friends’ homes. These concerts featured a program of songs from the CD and stories drawn from Irish tradition. I took pre-sale orders at the concerts and made new
friends. I loved these concerts and the chance to share live these songs, stories, and ideas that I find so inspiring and empowering.

Question 2
A number of literacy events can be used to form a new literacy practice . For instance:
● Digital literacies – using a website to form an online presence
● Print literacies – creation of brochures and other forms of printed material
● Social literacies – Gathering with people (either online or in person) to discuss and share new creations or information

These are examples of literacy events. They are tangible objects or actions that can be pointed to and are clearly seen by others. A grouping of these events will often indicate a literacy practice. Practices , in contrast, “are inferred because they connect to unobservable elements like beliefs,
values, attitudes, and power structures” (Perry, 2012, p.54).

I can see right away that new literacy events were part of the creation process for the Songs of the Poets CD. I also know that when looked upon in a larger context, you have formed a literacy practice . There is a distinct style and belief system that is expressed in the English and Irish
language poetry and music on this CD. Looking through an even larger lens, are you able to see where your own literacy practices evolved from?

Kate: I have been shaped by a lifetime of great teachers, exposure to wonderful poets and musicians, and by the shared idea that we are here to express what we love and share it with others. Words and music are my home; I believe that we are empowered and enlightened by access to language and through it, to our emotions and ideas. I want to live in a world of people who can touch their feelings and thoughts through words and through the musical aspects of language.

When I was a child, my mother used to take me to the library for programs by musicians and occasionally by poets. Looking at my life now, I’m amazed at how influential that was because 90% of my concerts take place in public libraries! To me, that intersection of books, learning,
ideas, people, and arts is thrilling – was then, and still is now. I think that led me to my interest in inter-textualities of all kinds. (And even in the songs I compose, I am always wanting to weave in other voices and experiences, references, environments and atmospheres. All those
musical interludes in Songs of the Poets are intended to underscore and amplify the experience or narrative of the poem itself).

I’ve always read poetry and I’ve been blessed to meet and get to know some truly wonderful poets – both well-known and not well-known. One of the most important ideas at the heart of Songs of the Poets is a kind of democracy and accessibility, and I think that grows out of my
experience of poetry as a friendly enterprise that is open to all. That is the way I’ve chosen to experience poetry, and I’ve created and participated in groups and structures that revolve around that idea. However, I’ve also stumbled into my share of exclusive, excluding poetry environments that scared the dickens out of me and took the pleasure out of writing until I
shrugged them off. (Negative, critical, perfectionistic, excluding: yuck. I like to think of this as “artistic constipation.”)

Because of that, I feel passionately that poetry is for everyone who wants it, in whatever way they want it, and I want to do what I can to foster that philosophy with people of all ages. As I wrote in the Songs of the Poets resource book, I’m not advocating that young writers (or anyone)
love THESE poems or write poems like them, but that they fully own the right and opportunity to create THEIR poems and to interact with poetry in THEIR way. I’m attaching to this note an essay I wrote about friendship and poetry, in case it’s helpful. It was published some years ago in a wonderful book called Women on Poetry (a collection of essays
by a couple dozen poets). My ideas and feelings about poetry and good company are there.

A related idea is that of accessibility through different forms and structures. I put these poems to music because I couldn’t NOT do it; I fell in love with each of them and simply needed to do it. But at the same time, as I began to share them with audiences, many people told me that they were able to receive the poem without fear (a fear grown out of that need to “translate” a poem as we all had to do in school – like the Billy Collins poem we read at the workshop) and with greater pleasure. This spurred me on and gave me hope that my compositions could serve as a
“door” into poetry for listeners who might otherwise shy away from poems.

One of the aims of the resource book is to show that we can think about poems in ways that feel natural and fun – another form of accessibility. You don’t need an MFA to have your own perspective on a poem! We can ask questions about poems, we can dare to not have answers, we can feel the mystery of a poem, and we can still enjoy the poem. I wanted to shift that old idea that thinking about poetry is solely an academic enterprise and show instead that thinking about poems can be another way of considering your own life, and that it can be fun, natural, and
meaningful. Spending a fair bit of time in academe has made me sensitive to anything that feels like a shutting down or shutting out, and doubly grateful when thinking and expressing are honest, playful, and open.

Other important groups that have influenced me: the wonderful open-mike community around Boston, Cambridge, and Concord. A lot of home-made art, a sense of can-do, and a beautiful level of mutual support and cheering-on: truly inspiring. Also, certain poetry communities – the
Salt Coast Sages and their annual poetry workshop at Roque Bluffs, ME; my mini-community with two dear poetry friends, Cheryl Perrault and Trisha Knudsen; the Worcester County Poetry Association; local poets here in Lunenburg and the Louise Bogan chapter of the MA Poetry Association. All of these – just their existence and often their encouragement – have been important in developing the ideas at the heart of Songs of the Poets.

Finally, over these last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to create with school kids and to witness their creative sparks – and this is THRILLING. As I get older (I’m 48), I’m more and more excited about supporting the next poets, writers, and artists who are coming along. I see
myself and all of us as part of a truly beautiful tradition, and this whole project is both my own contribution to that tradition and my attempt to encourage others to make their own contribution.

In J. Gregory McVerry’s essay, Power of Posting Poetry: Teaching New Literacies (2007), he writes “the nature of poetry as a genre, with its reliance on imagery, offers a wonderful opportunity to develop awareness in students about the role of multimedia in meaning making” (p.52). The multimodal nature that new literacies embrace does require the inclusion of visual, aural, and literary communication, something that Songs of the Poets and its supporting resources accomplishes with generosity and spirit.

Poetry represents one of our oldest literacy efforts, wielding historical significance as an instrument of mean-making, one that has embraced social character and mores throughout the ages. Whether the realm of literacy expands from an ancient hymn, the oral tradition of epic and lyrical poems, or the modern day poetry slam, the use of verse to transmit cultural information continues to influence and enthrall people. Kate Chadbourne has taken this well-loved literary art form, infused it with music and employed digital literacies to share a multi-textured tapestry of poetic song with the world. Without a doubt, she has created a new literacy practice.

Chadbourne, K. (2016). Songs of the Poets Resource Book. Retrieved from

Songs of the Poets

McVerry, J.G. (2007). Power of Posting Poetry: Teaching New Literacies . Language Arts Journal of Michigan, Volume 23, Issue 1, Article 10. Available at:
Perry, K. (2012). What is Literacy? – A Critical Overview of Sociocultural Perspectives. Journal of Language and Literacy Education. JOLLE at University of Georgia. Retrieved from
Rosenblatt, L. (1978). The Reader, the Text, the Poem: Transactional Theory of the Literary Work. 1994 paperback print edition by Southern Illinois University Press.
Sanders, A. (2012). Rosenblatt’s Presence in the New Literacies Research. Talking Points, Vol. 24, No. 1. The National Council of Teachers of English.
Webb, A. (2007). Digital Texts and the New Literacies. The English Journal, Vol. 97, No. 1, p. 83-88. The National Council of Teachers of English




Literature Summary – Chapter 13: Postmodernism and Literacy Studies

Routledge Handbook of Literacy Studies, 2015 – Chapter 13: Postmodernism and Literacy Studies

Four scholars from Columbia University, Lalitha Vasudevan, Kristine Rodriguez Kerr, Tara L. Conley, and Joseph Riina-Ferrie, have contributed to the chapter, Postmodernism and Literacy Studies. In their introduction, they are careful to define the title to this essay. Postmodernism is a large concept, and encompasses a socio-cultural philosophy that influences historical research, the arts, modern education, as well as the study of literacy. They quote Berger and Luckmann (1966) by stating that postmodernism is concerned with undoing the fixity of the perception of an objective reality and doing so by bringing forth multiple perspectives, orientations, and points of view. They state that our perception of life and the social order in which we live has been created by humans and, as a human construction, we are capable of deconstructing as well as re-constructing this social environment. They are quick to explain how the issue of power is intricately woven into the context of what we learn, how we perceive ourselves in the social order and what information is gathered to influence our opinions. Inequality and unjust social practices can be created, reinforced or disbanded, depending on the perception of this behavior, therefore, much is at stake with regard to who controls the “grand narrative” of a culture.

The gathering of literacy data and the consequences of that data shaping social understanding is central to the research in this chapter. Modern-day adolescents are the age group the writers study and they frame their research along four central themes:
1. They identify key elements to the postmodern study of literacy.
2. They review studies that have been influential in postmodern literacies.
3. They examine studies that have embraced new media and other new technology.
4. They recommend various new literacy research methods that take advantage of the changes in today’s social culture, with an emphasis on new media tools, as well as a deeper understanding of literacy learning in people’s lives.

The authors use a wonderful metaphor to describe a postmodern approach to the deconstruction of social literacies. They write, Postmodernism’s inherent skepticism seeks to look beneath and beyond what is presented, to peer not only under the surface or behind the curtain, but to take the curtain itself apart. (p. 208)

With regard to “taking the curtain itself apart” or, in other terms, taking a close examination of societal knowledge, postmodernism removes the assumption that literacy practices are neutral and universal. The realization that literacy pedagogy is context-dependent and that school curricula can include multiple literacies reflects a postmodernist perspective that is in line with current societal changes.

An examination of literacies from a recent historical perspective, starting from the 1980’s, is the next topic. Earlier views of literacy assumed a common skill-set that was linear and sequential. The social changes that occurred at the end of the 20th century, fueled by new technology, allowed multiple new paths of information to develop. These new avenues, in which literacy learning could occur, created even more opportunities to examine social culture. New media such as video games and tools such as blogs and podcasts, became more accessible and increased the global, digital worlds where literate engagement was shared. Recognizing that
multiple paths toward literacy were evolving brought forth a concern for “criticality” in relation to new literacy studies.

Criticality involves the intellectual discernment of materials and research for academic purposes. A postmodern view of the issue encourages educators to consider a multiplicative approach to new media integration in their classrooms. The authors cited numerous examples where instructors placed popular culture items in traditional assignments, with the hope of engaging adolescents in deeper learning. One example was to pair the Godfather movie with a reading of the Odyssey. Another example was to match hip-hop songs with canonical poets. An observation written by an instructor who had completed a video project with adolescents made a strong point regarding how youth are engaging literacy. He wrote:
The failure of programs to address the media as the predominant language of youth today, or to recognize the social and cultural contexts in which students live, has resulted in a profound disconnect. It’s a disconnect that occurs between the experiences that most students have during their time in school and those they have during their time outside of school. Until corrected, this disconnect will lead to the increased alienation of low-income urban youth from the dominant social, political and economic mainstream. (Goodman, 2003)

With regard to addressing this disconnect, the authors suggest that participation can be a successful resource, noting that a participatory approach is also considered a characteristic of postmodernism’s focus on literacy studies. One of the best examples of participation is the ability of youth to create cultural productions that reach across the digital world. They have access to online tools that allow them to create visual and audio content which can be shared. They can create websites and blogs as well as share music and videos they have created. This is participation on a scale that allows them to design their own environments and to gather information from a multitude of sources. Instead of passively receiving information, they are participants in the social structure of their own education.

The authors conclude with a section offering recommendations for practice. They reiterate the use of multiple literacies as technology expands and evolves. They list new tools that invite users to engage in literacy sharing, such as mobile devices and customizable media
platforms. They encourage the use of participation, with an emphasis on criticality, when selecting educational resources for learners. In an ever-shifting, evolving landscape of literacy study, they see a postmodern approach as the most adaptable choice for student engagement.

Debates in the Classroom: A Strategy To Stimulate Learning

Interpersonal skills have been transformed by the growth of the Internet. The advent of the Information Age has touched nearly every facet of human communication, from the use of social media to the creation of online learning environments which can reach thousands of students. It is imperative that today’s educators develop curriculum where students learn to discuss, critique, reason and engage their peers with clear, concise verbal, listening and written skills. One of the best ways to teach these skills is the incorporation of discussion style team debates in the classroom. Numerous benefits, including increases in higher order critical thinking, enhanced analytical skills and improved leadership qualities have been reported when students participate in debates. The merits of using communication to solve problems, as well as the intellectual and social enhancements that a debate can accomplish are qualities that enrich student’s lives. Quantitative measurements of academic performance improve as young people participate on debate teams, and the qualitative measure of their sense of worth, confidence, and creativity support debate as a valuable educational tool.

This paper will explore the processes and outcomes of several schools that introduced debates into their curriculum. In addition, there are numerous scholarly articles that explore the rationale for teaching the debate experience, which will be reviewed. A combination of learning from practical, hands-on information that is made available to the educational community, as well as understanding the historical position debates have held in education and society can offer instructors a balanced, cohesive view of in-class debates as an instructional strategy.

Key Terminology
There are several types of debates used in educational settings, each with its own set of rules and jargon. There is also a fundamental structure to the design of a debate that is shared by these different debating forms. The following information has been retrieved from the Debate|Able website, a resource for teaching debates to students. These terms are common, general features found in all debates. (Debate|Able, the Debate Education Program for Kids. Glossary of Debate Terms. 2016)

Affirmative Team: Argues in favor of the resolution. The affirmative team is responsible for introducing the resolution with relevant definitions, listing the claims that support their argument along with evidence and reasoning, and refuting the negatives’ arguments.

Claim: Controversial statement that a debater supports or refutes with evidence and reasoning. To be a claim, a statement must have at least two sides. “Schools should run year round” is a claim; “Wednesday comes after Tuesday” is not.

Constructive Speech: A speech that presents a debater’s basic arguments for or against the resolution.

Cross Examination: The period during a debate when a member of one team asks questions of an opposing team member to obtain additional information about their arguments and positions.

Judges: Individuals who listen to debate, decide the winner, rank debate competitors, and ensure that the experience is educational for all participants in a debate competition.

Moderator: is a person whose role is to act as a neutral participant in a debate or discussion, holds participants to time limits and trying to keep them from straying off the topic of the questions being raised in the debate.

Negative Team: Argues against the resolution and the affirmative team’s arguments. The negative team states the claims that support their position, provides evidence and reasoning, and refutes the affirmatives’ arguments.

Rebuttal Speeches: Speeches in debate that challenge and defend arguments introduced in constructive speeches.

Resolution: The topic or claim being debated. The resolution is always presented as an affirmative statement by the affirmative team, who has the burden of proving the truth of the resolution.

Four Popular Forms of Debates
Debates in the classroom are structured with consideration to the age, educational level and experience of the students involved. The discussion style of a team debate is considered ideal for beginners, as it consists of several rounds of short speeches, followed by questions. More challenging debate styles will include longer lengths of speech and periods of cross-examination. The four most common forms of debates have been retrieved from the eHow website, Kinds of Debates, and are listed as follows:

Lincoln-Douglas Debate: The Lincoln-Douglas format of debate is named after Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas’ debates on the subject of slavery. In Lincoln-Douglas format, only one person argues on each side of the debate. The debate begins with a constructive speech by the affirmative side, which lays out the main arguments for the proposition, followed by a shorter cross-examination during which the negative debater can ask questions of the affirmative debater. After the cross-examination period, the negative side gives its constructive speech, followed by a cross-examination by the affirmative debater. Following this, the affirmative and negatives sides each offer a rebuttal speech, in which they re-emphasize the important aspects of their constructive arguments to refute the opposing sides. New arguments may not be brought up in a rebuttal. The debate closes with a shorter final rebuttal by the affirmative debater.

Team Policy Debate: The team policy debate format is commonly used in high schools. The affirmative and negative teams are each composed of two debaters, and the debate is composed of eight speeches: four eight-minute constructive speeches alternating between the two teams, beginning with the affirmative side, then four alternating four-minute rebuttal speeches, beginning with the negative side. Speeches by a team will typically alternate between the two team members, so the first affirmative speech and last affirmative speech will be given by separate debaters. Team policy debate judging emphasizes research and evidence over persuasiveness and diction. A successful team will gather data to counter all potential arguments by the opposing side and be able to use it at the time of debate.

NDT and CEDA Formats: The National Debate Tournament, or NDT, and Cross-Examination Debate Association, or CEDA, formats are team debate formats similar to team policy debate, but they’re used at a college level. These formats use the same arrangement of alternating constructive speeches followed by alternating rebuttals. The speeches in these formats are longer than at the high school level. Each of the constructive speeches is nine minutes long, followed by a three-minute cross-examination period, while the rebuttals are six minutes. NDT’s judging places the same emphasis on evidence as the team policy debate; CEDA tends to stress policy in its debate topics and thus provides more opportunity for values-driven arguments.

Parliamentary Debate: Parliamentary debate formats stress improvisation and persuasion. The proposition being debated is not given to the teams until 10 or 15 minutes before the debate begins, meaning the teams do not have a chance to perform in-depth research. A parliamentary debate alternates between four constructive speeches followed by two shorter rebuttals. No cross-examination is used in parliamentary debates, but a team may interrupt an opposing team by calling for either a point of information, asking for clarification on an argument, or a point of order, to observe that a rule of the debate has been broken. Some variants of the parliamentary format include four teams — two arguing in favor of the proposition and two against. In this case the teams are ranked from one through four at the end of the debate.

Methodology of a Classroom Debate
The Alberta Debate and Speech Association is a non-profit, 50 school member group that promotes speech and debate activities in Alberta, Canada. Their resources are well researched and supported by the Canadian Student Debating Federation. The framework presented below is their standard, discussion style debate format. It is designed for beginning debate students, and is most often used in junior high school classes.

Junior High Discussion: Beginner Level
1st Affirmative Constructive
5 min
1st Negative Constructive
5 min
2nd Affirmative Constructive
5 min
2nd Negative Constructive
5 min

Discussion Period
10 min

5 min

Rebuttal Speech by 1st Negative
4 min
Rebuttal Speech by 1st Affirmative
4 min

©2015 The Alberta Debate and Speech Association

debate schedule for a 2 person team

Rules for Discussion Style Debate
1. In this style of debate, each debater is expected to deliver a constructive speech and to rebut the arguments of the opposing team. After the first four speeches, a 10 minute discussion period is held in which a debater may, after being called upon by the moderator, make a comment or pose a question to an opposing debater.
2. The debate will be presided over by the moderator. The affirmative team will sit on the right side of the moderator and the negative team will sit on the left. Debaters will speak only when called upon by the moderator.
3. Debaters should always preface their remarks by addressing the moderator. They may also acknowledge the presence of the judges, though this is not mandatory. All references to other debaters should be made in the third person.

Discussion Period
1. During the discussion period, the moderator will call on the debaters to ask questions or make comments.
2. The moderator will attempt to ensure that each debater is offered an equal amount of time in which to ask or answer questions. Questions should alternate from side to side.
3. Debaters should raise their hand, and upon being recognized by the moderator, proceed to ask, and respond to questions by their opponents.
4. Each contribution should not exceed one minute.
5. When questioning, the questioner should ask questions rather than make speeches. He/she may not insist on a yes or no answer.
6. The debater being questioned must answer any questions asked. Answers should not be longer than a sentence or two.
7. No new constructive arguments may be introduced during the discussion period, although new evidence may be used.
8. Judges should penalize debaters for a lack of participation.

Following the discussion period, the first debater for each team makes a team rebuttal and summary speech. During the rebuttal speech, debaters may not bring up any new arguments or new evidence except in direct refutation of material which has already been presented.
1. No points of order, privilege or heckles are permitted.
2. At the conclusion of the debate, the moderator will ask the debaters if there were any serious rules violations made by their opponents. Each team will be allowed to speak only once.

Alberta Debate and Speech Association. (2015).

Literature Review
Firmin, Vaughn, and Dye (2007) conducted a case study, Using Debate to Maximize Learning Potential, which encompassed a best practices approach to the implementation of debate into a classroom setting. They were concerned with the crafting of a clear format for the debate, and the necessary instruction for students to successfully participate as team members. As stated in their abstract:
The work is presented as a model for the principles of not building straw-men arguments, not shying away from controversial topics, giving politically-incorrect viewpoints fair treatment, making a crisp presentation that students will take seriously, and exemplifying gender-equity and aggressive female role-modeling.

In effect, they began their study by listing the situations that could go wrong when teaching students to debate. Straw-men arguments occur when one side of the debate is prepared to support their position, but the other side is not. A lack of preparation, the inability to form a convincing argument, or a poorly defined understanding of the topic can lead to this situation. Another problem they pointed to was the possibility of females not being able to aggressively argue with the male students. Students of certain ethnic backgrounds were also considered to be in this culturally relegated group of non-aggressive speakers. The authors pointed to these situations, then wrote of the benefits all students could derive from the debate process, regardless of gender or background. Several of their points included learning to:

  • Examine both sides of an issue in a thorough and fair manner
  • Promote gender equality and advance feminist theory
  • Promote liberal arts values in the curriculum
  • Improve student’s verbal, listening and oral communication skills
  • Help students overcome their fears of public speaking
  • Increase active student involvement in the learning process
  • Advance critical thinking skills to new levels which likely could not be achieved via other methods
  • Empower students to take responsibility for their own learning, rather than being instructor dependent

They concluded (2007) that as a unifying theme, debate has the potential to free students by helping them to think for themselves, going beyond the finite limitation constraints of the course professor.

In their article, Speech and Debate as Civic Education, Hogan, Kurr and Bergmaier (2016) approached the liberating aspects of debate in a manner that spoke to the civic duty of an individual to uphold the classical rhetorical tradition of great speakers such as Daniel Webster, Henry Clay and John Calhoun. These men were considered Senatorial giants, with great gifts for debate and legislative action. The authors see a clear connection between the speechmaking abilities of these politicians and their success in upholding the tenets of the Senatorial chamber and their promotion of democratic law. The authors then quote W.N. Brigance (1961), who wrote, Since ancient times, we have never had a successful democracy unless a large part, a very large part, of its citizens were effective, intelligent, and responsible speakers.

Sadly, the current state of education has focused less on the merits of a liberal arts education, which advocates civic engagement, and more of the importance of a work-force training model. STEM education and career preparation are important areas of study, but the authors argue that a new movement for the revival and reinvention of civic education is necessary for the twenty first century. The value of debate practice as well as the actual participation in debates cannot be underestimated as a vital strategy to teach civic engagement. As stated in the article’s final paragraph:
Speech and debate have a lot to contribute to the movement to reform and reinvigorate civic education in America. Going beyond the legalistic political information dispensed in traditional civics courses, speech and debate pedagogies help students develop substantive knowledge about important political controversies, along with the skills and confidence they need to engage in civic life
Speech and Debate as Civic Education (2016).

The merits of debate are often analyzed through the lens of a group undertaking and the effects the shared activity has on stimulating learning in the classroom. Dr. Ruth Kennedy provides a thorough analysis of both individual and collective effects of the debate experience in her scholarly paper, In-Class Debates: Fertile Ground for Active Learning and the Cultivation of Critical Thinking and Oral Communication Skills.

Dr. Kennedy makes a strong case for the advancement of debates as an effective method to draw students out of passive, non-participatory roles in the classroom. She quotes too many studies (52 studies!) to address individually but the result of her findings showcase the benefits of debates in substantial ways. She asserts that “in-class debates cultivate the active engagement of students, placing the responsibility of comprehension on the shoulders of the student.” She makes the very accurate observation that there is “more information than ever before, and that the pace of change will likely continue to be rapid for future generations,” a very sobering thought for anyone who is not a “digital native,” defined as a person who grew up before the advent of the personal computer revolution. She finishes her analysis by adding, “educators must focus less on teaching facts and more on teaching students how to use information. In the past, vocations were often passed on from generation to generation, but now most individuals have several different careers in their lifetime.”

Dr. Kennedy’s careful research would make an advocate for debate out of the most reserved educator, but she is quick to move into the role of opposer for this instructional strategy by citing several studies that are critical of debate performance outcomes. One of the problems involves the reinforcement of critical thinking that excludes a middle ground, also known as a dualistic mentality. As a counter measure, Dr. Kennedy shows examples where students were assigned to different sides of the debate during the actual debate, to help balance their need to see only their own side of the argument. Another problem that Dr. Kennedy mentioned was the confrontational nature of debates and the effect this aggressive form of speaking can have on a classroom environment. Fostering a confrontational nature may be problematic to students from different cultures and situations, such as the learning disabled. Solutions to this problem included the use of written assignments, where students would participate verbally and also by written form, which allowed them to express ideas they may not have been comfortable saying to their fellow students. Another instructor graded her students on participation, rather than performance, understanding that the difficulties some students had with openly arguing in a school setting were a result of their cultural upbringing.

Students’ perceptions toward using classroom debate to develop critical thinking were further explored in the scholarly article, Students’ Perceptions toward Using Classroom Debate to Develop Critical Thinking and Oral Communication Ability, by P. Zare1 and M. Othman.

These researchers gathered sixteen undergraduate students and placed them in nine debates that were held throughout one semester. The students were given quantitative and qualitative measurements of assessment. Likert scales were completed, open-ended written questions were answered, they were interviewed by their peers and the researchers regarding their reactions and perceptions of the debate experience. Their own assessments of the debates were highly positive. They felt they had improved in their critical thinking skills and oral communication abilities. They listed “mastering the course content, boosting confidence, overcoming stage fright and improving team work skills” as benefits from the experience.

In addition, the students had been asked to write a reflective paper at the beginning of the semester, before the debates began, and another paper at the end of the semester. The researchers compared the student’s perceptions and reactions pre and post-debate, then noted the student’s suggestions for changes, ideas for future debates and any additional comments they could share with the study.

Sophia Scott followed a similar path of inquiry in her paper, Perceptions of Students’ Learning Critical Thinking through Debate in a Technology Classroom: A Case Study. The unique aspects of her study were the topics of the debates and the students who participated in her case study. They were STEM students, well trained in science and technology, and the subjects they were debating included human cloning, stem cell research, the selling of organs to transplant patients and the regulation of the Internet for minors. An interesting outcome to her study was how well the framework used for debate creation held up to these more open-ended, more modern topics; ones that didn’t necessarily have well defined outcomes yet.

Ms. Scott carefully assessed her student’s reactions. She used Likert scales and open ended questionnaires. She created charts and scales which showed mean scores of student responses. Her results showed very similar results to the other researchers mentioned in this paper. The students felt they had increased their critical thinking skills by participating in the debates. They felt they had learned more about the subject they debated, they thought their ability to work as a team had improved and that the debates were challenging and fun. There were students who did not like having to defend their cases by speaking in front of the class, but this was consistent with the findings of other researchers.

The final piece of literature I reviewed was a guide written by the Saskatchewan Elocution and Debate Association, entitled The Step by Step Guide to Debate. This guide is written for the classroom environment and alternates between explanations of terminology, historical facts, the philosophy behind debating, the roles of people in the debate process, and lesson plans that can be followed during debate preparation. The step-by-step check lists are extensive and very detailed. It is quite obvious that the creators of this guide have experience conducting debates. There are areas left blank for note-taking and humorous cartoons interspersed among the information. This guide is a friendly, 115 page, hands-on approach to introducing debate into the curriculum that is simply packed with information.

The literary reviews, observations and surveys that are available offer a positive, encouraging view on the use of debates in the classroom. Benefits to the students are well noted, such as enhanced organizational and research skills, a new enthusiasm for team efforts, and the student’s opportunity to develop public-speaking skills. Any concerns expressed, such as increased competitiveness or an inclination toward moving the debate from an intellectual exercise to an emotional one, were seen as outcomes that could be addressed successfully from within the classroom setting.

In addition to studies that reflect on the historical and sociological significance of the debate process, there are also many articles available that share actual classroom experiences with the different styles of debates, noting student reactions to the active, intellectual engagement. Practical, hands on experience offer useful advice for all stages of planning a debate event. With a clear understanding of the objectives and values attributed to the debate experience, educators should feel well equipped with the knowledge, perspective and tools needed for a successful classroom debate experience.

The Alberta Debate and Speech Association. (2015). General Rules For Debate. Retrieved from
Brigance, W. N. (1961). Speech: Its techniques and disciplines in a free society (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
Firmin, M.W., Vaughn, A., Dye, A. (2007). Using Debate to Maximize Learning Potential: A Case Study. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, vol. 4, n1.
Glossary of Debate Terms. (2016) Debate|Able, the Debate Education Program for Kids. Retrieved from:
Hogan, J. M., Kurr, J. A., Johnson, J. D., & Bergmaier, M. J. (2016). Speech and Debate as Civic Education. Communication Education, vol. 65, n4, p377-381.
Kennedy, R. (2007). In-Class Debates: Fertile Ground for Active Learning and the Cultivation of Critical Thinking and Oral Communication Skills. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, vol. 19, n2, p183-190.
Pritchard, R. (2009). The “Step by Step” Guide to Debate. Saskatchewan Elocution and Debate Association. Retrieved from:
Scott, S. (2008). Perceptions of Students’ Learning Critical Thinking through Debate in a Technology Classroom: A Case Study. Journal of Technology Studies, vol. 34, p39-44.
Zamboni, J. Kinds of Debates. Retrieved from:
Zare, P., & Othman, M. (2015). Students’ Perceptions toward Using Classroom Debate to Develop Critical Thinking and Oral Communication Ability. Asian Social Science, vol. 11, n9.

Appendix A: Action Plan Chart

Appendix B: Debate Rubric




Lesson Plan for Role Playing With Social Media

The learning activity I have explored is role playing, with the use of Social Media tools. The learner’s group for this activity is a High School literature class, focusing on the 10th to 12th grades. The novel that will set the stage for the activity is Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley, and the Social Media tools used will be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Flikr.

The choice of Brave New World is based on its unique dystopian view of the future. It is a controversial school library book, and has been banned on more than one occasion. For the school reading lists that do include Brave New World, creating an activity that allows students the freedom to explore the novel’s themes with modern day social media tools offers a level of inquiry that is very new and distinct to our own technological age.
For a very brief refresher on the novel, courtesy of Wikipedia:
Brave New World was written in 1931, and published in 1932. It is set in London, in the year 2540. It anticipates the developments in reproductive technology, sleep-learning, psychological manipulation and classical conditioning that are combined to profoundly change society.

The protagonist’s name is John Savage, an outsider who cannot accept the ways of the “World State.” The antagonist’s name is Mustapha Mond, a leader and strong proponent of the World State’s values: “Community, Identity, Stability.” The price that has been paid to uphold these values is the loss of art, literature, and scientific freedom, as well as the traditional family unit and the practice of religion. There are 23 primary and secondary characters in the novel, and a number of background figures, too.

Digital Learning Environment
Facebook will hold the center of this project. It will be the gathering place for all posts and information that the class and the instructor share.
Prior to reading the novel, each student will be given the name of a character in the book. They will be instructed to take notes about the character as they read, as this will help them in their role playing efforts.
Once the class has finished reading the novel, a closed Facebook group page will be created by the instructor, who will be the administrator. Students will join the group and work within the Facebook group page, so content can be monitored by the instructor.

Instructional Objectives
The goal of this lesson is to bring students to a deeper level of understanding regarding this novel. They will be visiting a dystopian future, and will read about ideas that do not fit well into our current world-view. What is considered a healthy way of life now will be outlawed in the novel, and the “World State” may cause some anxiety and worry to high school students.

The familiarity of media tools like Twitter and Instagram will help place the student’s mindset back in the present and give them opportunities to express themselves in clear, familiar ways.

This lesson does have a “live” component to it. Depending on what the students post, and how they respond to situations presented by the instructor, they may begin to veer in new directions with the novel’s storyline. They may re-interpret events or people. They might have a new appreciation or a stronger disapproval of a particular character. The instructor will need to be a moderator, and monitor what is occurring on the group page.

Students can post photos, links, article hyperlinks, artwork, music and other online media. They will have Facebook conversations between their characters, and will stay in the role of their character as they select the media they want to share.

The Instructor will post challenges to the class. There will be puzzles that need to be solved, using locations and circumstances that were in the novel’s storyline. The choice of answering questions or solving problems with text or a media post will most often be at the discretion of the student. Use of all media tools is required but there may be instances when an Instagram photo will be a better choice, as opposed to typing a message.

Students can be instructed to form small groups and to work on activities in a group environment. The instructor can set up a debate between these groups, and ideas from the novel can be argued in debate form.

Alternative endings to the novel can be discussed. A section of the novel can be broken into sequences that students will be assigned to re-write. Some students may take an “uplifting” approach to the tale, while others will bring in a Star Wars jet fighter battle to the scene. It could be very amusing to read, once all the segments are put together again.
The point of these activities is to allow the students to understand, then re-imagine Huxley’s Brave New World. They are not able to do this if they don’t know the novel’s world, when they begin. The early activities re-visit the novel’s characters and locations, while later activities open up the opportunity for students to use their creativity and imagination. Well known media tools allow them to express themselves and to share their ideas with their classmates.

The primary assessments for this lesson include:

  • Students stay “in-character” in their posts. Their role playing shows a level of comprehension with the novel’s plot.
  • The student’s ability to further their character’s goals. Do their actions support the perspective of their character?
  • The use of all media tools listed. The student creates a variety of social media messages to express their ideas.
  • The student fully participates in the Facebook group page with written and media posts.