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High School Students Uses of Online-Role Play to Debate and Address Issues Portrayed in Literature
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High School Students Uses of Online-Role Play to Debate and Address Issues Portrayed in Literature


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NCTE presentation on the uses of blogs and Ning to engage high school students in online role-play about issues portrayed in literature.

NCTE presentation on the uses of blogs and Ning to engage high school students in online role-play about issues portrayed in literature.

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  • 1. High School Students Uses of Online-Role Play to Debate and Address Issues Portrayed in Literature Richard Beach, University of Minnesota,
  • 2. Creating an online role-play: Students:
      • Select an issue
      • Formulate a primary argument
      • Choose roles and conduct research
      • Post arguments on a blog or online forum
      • Step out of roles and reflect
  • 3. Engage in collaborative arguments: “rhetoric of transformation” ( JAAL , April)
      • Formulate alternative arguments
      • Test out different arguments
        • "House": determine alternative diagnoses
      • Find common ground to develop solutions
  • 4. Online role-play/resource sites
      • Ink game: Michigan State University: First Year Composition
      • Letters to the Next President
      • The Persuasive Games site
      • Democracy
      • A Force More Powerful
      • Peacemaker
      • The Our Courts project
      • Debatepedia
      • Debatemapper site
      • Opposing Views
  • 5. Through online role-play, students learn to:
    • construct a persona
    • employ rhetorical appeals
    • support their position with reasons
    • identify and refute counter-arguments
    • revise or modify one’s own positions
  • 6. Advantages of online versus face-to-face role-play:
    • participate over an extended time period
    • incorporate use of images and video
    • access to all students’ posts and comments
    • review posts to reflect on and cite quotes
    • draw on role-play material for use in their own writing
  • 7. Blogs/Moodle Forum as mediating collective argument
    • Foster simultaneous views of posts
    • Aware of competing perspectives
    • Sense of shifting power alliances
    • Creates a sense of class community
  • 8. Elizabeth Boeser’s College Writing, Jefferson High School,Bloomington
    • Used as a writing activity to accompany Larry Watson’s Montana 1948 .
    • Legal debates over the issue of the University of North Dakota’s use of a “Fighting Sioux” mascot
    • Student roles: characters from the book, members of the Sioux tribe, the UND President, students from UND, the owner of the Washington Redskins, etc.
  • 9. Discussion began in a wiki space
    • Term 1
    • Term 3
      • http://watsonmontana1948. pbwiki .com/
    • Thoughts for group discussion: Why do sports teams use humans as mascots?
  • 10. Students were asked to do outside reading Instead of doing individual blogs on this novel, you will also participate in an online role-play and discussion about Native Americans and a current issue. Please read from the following articles and websites in order to form your opinion on this controversial issue (additionally, you may look up articles on your own). The more of these you read through, the better you will understand your role in the exercise and the better you will understand your own feelings about these issues. “ Sioux logo debate is in tribes' hands : Settlement with NCAA lets UND try to win approval by 2010 from tribes to use the Indian nickname and logo.” By Pam Louwagie, Star Tribune “ Disagreement arises about taking stances : More controversy arose from a Sept. 22 ad in the Grand Forks Herald” By Ryan Johnson” “ UPDATE: Native Mascots & Nicknames ” - May 19, 2006 -- In the wake of the NCAA's recent ruling deeming Native American mascots "hostile or abusive," some colleges and universities continue to resist change. By Camille Jackson
  • 11. For each class a blog was set up
    • Term 1
      • http: //roleplaymascots . blogspot .com/
    • Term 3
      • http: //mascotroleplay . blogspot .com/
  • 12. In a comment to the owner of the Redskins, Winona Yepa, a Wahpeton Sioux woman states: “ As a native american women i am aslo very offended by the name "redskins". Perhaps your name should be changed to washington "whitetrash" then perhaps you could see why i feel the way i do about the name. We are native American's, not redskins. i find it to be a very offensive name. At least NDSU has enough respect for Native americans to address us properly as "Sioux" the fighting part is debatable but they don't refer to us as "redskins". we have names.”
  • 13. Student reflection I feel like the role play was a really good idea and we got to talk about an interesting issue that is real and that is going on right now…I liked seeing the sides of all different people and what they thought about the issue…I thought that it was a lot easier then what it might have been if we did it in person. We could share our opinions without maybe getting into a heated discussion that might have ended badly. I also liked that we had a bio that people read so they knew where we came from and why we thought the things we did .
  • 14. Censorship: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    • The PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) of Maui High School is looking for feedback on the following book titles available to students through the school library and/or taught by the English department. Several parents and guardians have contacted school administrators about the questionable content and educational merit of these and other books.
  • 15. Student post:
    • I don't think that these books should be banned. I have talked to several other students and we all agree. While there are some mature scenes and language, I don't feel we should be sheltered from things that actually happen in the real world. In the Kite Runner , they fled from the Taliban, something that actually happened. In Montana 1948 , there was sexual abuse, something that actually happens. In the Perks of Being a Wallflower , there is drug abuse and problems with friends, and that happens also in the real world. We are becoming well-rounded people by learning about things that are happening outside of our lives, even though these books may be fiction.
  • 16. 2008 study: Students read Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (2008)
    • Modern version of 1984
    • Issues of Internet privacy/control
    • 17-year-old Marcus, a computer hacker, takes on the Department of Homeland Security’s attempt to control society
  • 17.   Using a Ning as the platform for online role-play:
  • 18. mapping to identify roles and relationships between roles
  • 19. Threaded discussion allows students easily follow discussion
  • 20. Students use their role to create an arguments and use hyperlinks
  • 21. Students use the bio pages and comments sections to personally connect to other characters.
  • 22. 2008 study -- perspective taking
    • EmoGirl: Critique of school
    • Internet policies
    • I think the internet usage policies are ridiculous. The policies are almost  impossible to find. I spent half an hour trying to find them and I'm a young, computer savvy person.  
  • 23. Students evaluated themselves by using the rubric below (see handout for rubric)
  • 24. Students step out of roles and reflect on:
      • Use of arguments
      • Comfort in role
      • Targeted audiences/alliances
      • Who has power?
        • Reasons: strategies
      • Sense of potential change
  • 25. . Students wrote a paper from their own point of view addressing a problem with Internet access
  • 26. Discourses: Con student access
    • Students will access problematic/porn sites that will adversely influence them (“Strict father” cultural model” (Lakoff))
    • Students are not mature enough to select appropriate sites (De velopmental discourse)
  • 27. “Strict Father” cultural model: Charles Hammerstein III
    • The issue with sites like YouTube is that it is a helpful site when used correctly, but the ratio of students who would use it to the students who would abuse it would greatly favor the later of the two. R-rated sites are not ok because they usually contain information and content that may be considered offensive . T he internet policies are very clear, if your grandmother would not appreciate it, then you probably shouldn't be doing those kind of things at school.
  • 28. Discourses: Pro student access
    • Schooling should be designed to foster critical thinking/access to information versus locking down students ( ed ucation discourse)
    • Students live in a networked global economy (g l obalism discourse)
    • Students need to be responsible for their own decisions/behavior (“ pe rmissive parent ” cultural model (Lakoff)
    • - students have a legal right to access information (l e gal discourse )
  • 29. Identifying tensions between policies and practices
    • Today I was attempting to do some research for our next Youth Against War and Racism meeting and I came upon a school Block when I was looking for Abu Ghraib, and SURPRISE! It’s Blocked. It’s blocked for Obscene/Tasteless content. Do you know what I find Obscene and Tasteless? The idea that a school has a right to hide things from students. Are we communists that we are going to restrict what our students can know?
  • 30. Change: Contradictions between system
    • The school is stuck. We need to make change in the system. There’s no justification for why sites are blocked. These sites were available in school, it may deter students from posting stupid pictures of themselves doing illegal activities.
  • 31. Achieving change
    • District tech staff lifted the blocks on sites
    • Allowed teachers access to YouTube
    • Enhanced sense of student agency
  • 32. Value of collective activity
    • I'm realizing that a few students working together to create change on a subject they feel passionate about can actually make a difference , whether it be in the school or community.
  • 33. Summary: Students:
    • Exposed to multiple audiences and arguments on the Ning
      • Sense of shared concern/need for change
      • Aware of counter-arguments to refute
    • Identified contradictions in systems
      • Policies versus practices
    • Used the role-play as “prewriting” for essay
    • Employed collaborative argument to achieve change
  • 34. Affective aspects of change
    • I feel like the majority of my input came from the Ning. Putting myself in the shoes of someone who has authority in the district helped me put myself through what they go through to make policy recommendations. By doing this I realized that these rules have to apply to abroad range of people, not just me. That is where my opinions changed and I realized that this issue is affecting more people than just me. Wi thout the role play I would not have formulated the opinions that I did and it opened me up to the things that I didn't understand.
  • 35. Reader-response Strategies in the Role-plays
    • Reading the rhetorical landscape/social hierarchies
    • Recognizing shifts in positions
    • Perspective-taking to gain identification with other roles
    • Critically interpreting stances and discourses
    • Constructing intertextual links
  • 36. Challenge: Moving to institutional critique
    • Study issues/problems facing their own neighborhood or House on Mango Street
    • Map connection between:
            • Events
    • |
    • Spaces
    • |
    • Institutions/social worlds
  • 37. Connect the Dots: Institutional Forces <--> Events and Spaces:
    • Agri-business/corn lobby  campaign donations  government farm policies  Manufactured food  lack of urban grocery stores with fresh vegetables/fruit  fast food restaurants/advertising  High fat food  obesity  increased health-care costs