"My kids’ analytical skills have taken off. And some of the most shy, timid kids have been emboldened in the most positive way. Debate has helped my kids find their voices…And now, in a society that has pretty much ignored them, they will have a greatly improved ability to make themselves heard." Eddie Wexler, Teacher Magazine, April, 2002
ALOUD places classroom practice in the larger context of school practice and the educational careers of children. It is grounded in a "big picture" perspective on the purposes and practices of schooling, providing teachers a means of seeing and acting upon the connections among students' experiences, teachers' classroom practice, and school-wide structures and cultures. Debate frees students to question, refine and analyze data. Conclusions come from investigation not authoritarian statement. Project-based learning involves students, teachers, and members of society collaborating together to investigate questions. In this manner, the classroom in which project-based learning occurs becomes a community of learners. The use of telecommunication also helps create a collaborative environment by allowing students to access a wider community in which they can communicate with knowledgeable individuals, take advantage of resources others have to offer, communicate with other students in different parts of the world, and share data with other student scientists and content experts. ALOUD partners can work with your schools or individual teachers in numerous ways including:
Teachers must be engaged in the construction and not mere consumption of subject matter teaching knowledge. ALOUD and its partners provide teacher training that creates interactive classrooms where students find solutions throug rigorous investigation and have fun in the process. They communicate a view of teachers not only as classroom experts, but also as productive and responsible members of a broader professional community, and as persons embarked on a career that may span thirty or more years. Students learn in such environments, as well as to explore and find solutions to challenges that teachers face in enacting such complex instruction. A flexible curriculum including student interviews, pre- and post-test evalutaion, classroom observation, and other strategies ensures that ALOUD creates effective curriculum materials and lessons that support student learning and achievement with respect to the content and standards addressed.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT
The enthusiasm and academic success of urban debate lifts the vision of teachers from fearing the next crisis to planning the next brilliance. ALOUD assists teachers in grades 5-16 in crafting resolutions and designing debate formats that are easily integrated into the content material for each discipline. Rather than add to a teacher’s impossible workload, ALOUD partners offer teachers a means to develop the skills of critical reading, logical analysis, oral fluency, advocacy, and research via experiential learning from within the required and necessary curriculum content.
Professional development must be about creating a culture of success and support for teachers to excel. ALOUD's professional development workshops account for the contexts of teaching and the experience of teachers. The ability to choose different formats, topics and exercises in debate, refutes the "one size fits all" mode of traditional staff development. A teacher's capacity to generate knowledge and creativity is much more essential than their willingness to be passive consumers of knowledge.