Preparing for May Madness
AP American History
10 lessons in 50 minute classes
I have now served as a judge in Cosby Hunt’s May Madness class for two years. (To learn more about May Madness you can read an article Cosby wrote for the magazine Social Education in September 2004. I have seen many excellent debaters who worked to prove who had the most influence in history but have yet to see student show high quality skills in research. In addition though the lesson asks that students use primary sources I have seen few if any students use them. I have asked Cosby if I can come in and introduce the students to online resources and he has expressed interest. This is how I would get the students involved if I could actually have 10 class periods to help the students prepare for May Madness.
Enduring Understanding: Understanding the purpose and importance of doing research and performing other preparation tasks for the debate. Understanding that successful research and preparation provides the foundation for success when participating in debates.
After completing this unit students will:
Be able to define, locate and analyze primary sources.
Know what archives are and the procedures to follow when using archival resources.
Know the difference between primary and secondary sources and why both are needed when doing research.
Be able to locate resources online and be able to analyze them for quality, accuracy and reliability.
Understand what a debate is, the rules for a debate and how to prepare effectively to participate in a debate.
Why must we do research to be effective in debates?
What are primary sources and how can researchers locate them?
What are secondary sources and why are they important in research?
How can researchers locate resources that are reliable?
What is a debate?
What are the rules of a debate?
What can one do to insure that they are successful in a debate?
Prior to start of lessons students will be asked if they have done research before, what classes did they have to do research for, what product (paper, presentation, exhibit for example) did they have to produce to show the research they had done and how many students have participated in debates.
The teacher will have a rubric to show how the student did during the debate and how effectively they used the material during the debate.
Students will be asked to supply an annotated bibliography discussing the sources used, where the sources was located, how the source was used when preparing for the debate and why the source was important in the research process.
Students will be given a test using a primary source and will have to analyze it. The test will also include information on how to analyze resources used in research be it on or offline.
During each class students will be asked questions relating to the previous class to see if students have retained information or if review is required.
The sequence starts with the introduction of the debate and the requirements for the debate including the development of an annotated bibliography. Then it moves forward into discussions on how to locate primary and secondary sources then how to locate and evaluate web resources and then ends with a focus on the debate itself and how to prepare for the debate.
The classes will be interactive with lots of time for discussion and for practicing what has been learned in class. Students will be able to practice what they have learned in their research, in homework assignments and eventually in the actual debate.
This class will allow students to use what they have learned about American history to put the person they are debating about in context of the time period where they lived and showing how this person shaped or changed the United States or pushed events in a different way. Students would be able to show how society was different because this person lived or what would have happened had they not lived. Students will need to do research when in college or in their professional lives. They should know the basics of doing research in an archives, in a library and online. In terms of the debate students need to learn how to defend their point of view in a calm, logical manner using information to back up their beliefs. The skills learned in this class will help them become more effective in representing their points of view and in speaking with and in front of others.
Students may work together to share ideas, support each other while doing research or by letting the teacher and their colleagues know of problems they may be having so that the group can brainstorm ideas and develop suggestions that will help create solutions or provide ideas for other avenues of research.
In terms of differentiation students will be given homework assignments to complete that the teacher can review to make sure students are on the right path. The teacher can also listen to class discussion and questions to see where there are problems and can work quickly to answer questions and help students get the information they need to complete the assignment.
Student will be told about May Madness, asked to select a person they would like to debate about and told that they will also be given another person to debate based on my list of suggestions. They will be informed that debates will start two weeks from today and that they will need to do research to learn more about the people they need to debate. They will be given a handout detailing what they need to do as part of the May Madness assignment. Student will learn that during the next class periods they will learn about debating and how to do research effectively.
Students will be asked about their experience with debates and with doing research. They will be asked if they have used primary sources in their research.
Students will be lead through the mindwalk exercise. When they complete the mind walk they will be given a definition of what a primary source is and what primary sources they may have in their homes. Students will be given the information about primary sources as a handout.
Homework is to come up with a person they want to defend in May Madness
Students will review what a primary source is. Then we will follow the exercises presented with the mindwalk exercise. Students will discuss why primary sources are important parts of research. Students will then be given a KWL chart and an image to analyze. If time permits students will also be asked to analyze a sound recording. If need the lyrics are available.
For homework students will be given a KWL chart and another item and will be asked to analyze that particular item.
Students will turn in and discuss homework item to show what they have learned about primary source analysis. The teacher will talk about the item and indicate it is from an archives. Students will be asked to say what an archives is. Definitions can found at the National Archives and Records Administration and the Society of American Archivists websites. Ask if material found in archives are considered primary sources?
Students will be asked if they have done research in libraries. They will be asked about the procedures they used when going to the library (using online catalog, going to shelves to look for books, being able to check out books and take them home). They will be asked if they have done research in archives. If not teacher will provide information about the differences between libraries and archives. Good starting places for information can be found at Kennesaw State University and the New England Archivists website. They will be told about the procedures one must use when using archives. Students will be reminded about the field trip in the next class where they will visit the Washingtoniana Division at the DC Public Library and meet the archivist there.
Students will be given an assignment to complete while at Washingtoniana (will work with staff there to make sure students have access to resources and will be able to complete the assignment with a minimum of discomfort to the staff). Students will also be given the names of the people to research for May Madness.
Students will travel to DCPL’s Washingtoniana Division. They will have a tour of the archives and meet with the archivist. They will have the opportunity to work with archival collections.
If possible students will also be given a tour of the MLK Library and information about using other resources at DCPL.
Teacher will debrief visit to archives and review assignment completed during visit to archival repository.
Teacher will review information about primary sources and discuss the positives and negatives of using primary sources. Students will discuss the issue of bias and point of view in primary sources and asked how to deal with the issue of bias in primary sources. Teacher will suggest the use of secondary sources in research. Students will be asked to define secondary sources and asked to provide a list of items that are considered secondary sources. Definitions can be found on the Teachers Page and the National History Day website. Students will be asked if some of the items they listed could be primary sources (such as a person’s autobiography or a newspaper article written at the time of an event). Students will be asked how they can find secondary sources. The school librarian will come in to to discuss how to use the library and to supplement what they heard during tour of DCPL resources outside of Washingtoniana. Students will be reminded that they must do an annotated bibliography of resources they use for May Madness and that it must include at least two primary and 10 secondary sources.
Homework will be to start doing research on their May Madness person and to bring in an annotated list of three resources they found. Extra Credit will be given to students who take a tour of the Public Vaults exhibit at the National Archives and Records Administration noting some of the archival materials they saw and their impression of the exhibit.
Teacher will collect annotated bibliographies and extra credit assignment. Students will be asked about their research activities and about any questions they have about the research process. Students will then learn about web resources they can use to locate primary sources. This will be more of a tour of websites from places including the Library of Congress (including the list of primary source links and links to other resources), National Archives and Records Administration, Smithsonian, National History Day, Federal Resources for Educational Excellence, History Matters, and Gilder-Lehrman. Students will discuss the resources they can use to look for other websites and what to look for when first visiting a website and how to get comfortable searching a website. Students will be given a list of web resources to use. If possible this class would be done in the computer lab with time given at the end for students to do research using these sites.
Homework is to continue research and to visit one of the websites shown in class and locate a resource they might use in their project.
Students will be given an opportunity to ask questions about their research up to this point and about the previous class and the web resources. They will be asked if they have used the web to do research before and what they have learned about using the web for research. They will be asked if they know the difference between Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, and Dogpile and how they handle searching. Students will learn about how these search engines handle searches. They will also be shown Kartoo another kind of search engine. They will then be given the Left Handed Whopper press release from Burger King. This will lead to a discussion of how to analyze websites to make sure they are getting high quality information that is reliable.
Students will be given a handout with information on how to analyze a website.
For homework students will be given the paper text of a website and asked to analyze it to determine if it is a valid website.
Students will be asked if the website they are given is valid and how they determined if it were valid.
Class will focus on bringing the research process to a close. Teacher will ask how students are doing with their research and what problems they are having. Class will focus on looking at ways to make sure they are getting the information they need to answer the primary debate question and how to make sure they are getting a variety of sources. Students will list questions they will need to answer about the person they are working on. If possible part of this class will take place in the computer lab or library to allow students time to work on their research with the teacher and librarian present. At end of class teacher will provide list of questions students should make sure they can answer about their person.
Homework: Students to continue research and check to make sure they are answering the questions listed on the handout. Ask students to read handout on debating.
Students will have the opportunity to ask questions about research. Students will be asked what a debate is and what the rules in a normal debate. The teacher will hand out the rules and structure of the May Madness debate
The teacher and another colleague will model a debate and students will be asked to take notes of what they saw that was good and bad and what followed the rules and what didn’t
At end of class students will be given the brackets for the first round of May Madness and to start looking for information on their opponents.
Students will be asked if they have questions on the debate process.
They will be asked to think about the debate they saw the day before and how the teachers dealt with the questions they were asked about the person they were debating for. The students will be asked how they can prepare for the question and answer session and how they can expose their opponent’s weaknesses in knowledge. Students will also learn how to effectively deal with the judges that will be watching them and how to appeal to them.
For homework Students should finish annotated bibliography and bring it to class on Monday. They should also be ready to debate on Monday having completed their research.