On Election Day 2016, my students held a debate not about any election being held but whether the murder in Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” was an actual murder or was imagined/dreamed.  I want my students to be active listeners, something I struggle with myself, so I knew I would require them to paraphrase or somehow acknowledge something someone else stated. I also wanted to somehow ensure everyone’s voice was heard.  Luckily I found the idea of students folding an index card each time they spoke. (Thanks UNC School of Education!)   There are no better words than my students words to explain their learning:

“When you had to listen to other people for me it made me question my thinking. I doubted my thinking. I questioned my own thinking about it.”  Jakob

“The debate was interesting. The rules made it a little bit harder. Although it was better. Referencing someone else’s thought made it better because you actually had to listen. You couldn’t just blurt out which made it a good learning experience.” Natalie

“I liked the debate–it allowed everyone to talk not just the ones who shout out.  It helped me understand other’s point of view.”  Tyera

“It made me really think about how to rebuttle (sic) and see different sides of the story.  During the debate you had to restate something that someone said and it made me think do I agree or do I disagree?”  Averie

“I learned I need to take a chill pill and l learned how to deal with other ideas.”  Austin

My job as a teacher is to help students be successful beyond my classroom walls.  Having this debate and then continuing to reinforce the skills of listening and acknowledging other’s ideas is one way I’m doing just that.

Emma’s Reflection Poem

We could go on forever

Forever I say.

It’s undecided

There is no truth

No right

No wrong.

Forever, in the back of our mind

A question grows, and grows, it will


Fall.  We will


Know what happened in that home

At 4:00 AM.