Students prepare for debates at Millboro Elementary School

Seventh grade students at Millboro Elementary School are busy preparing for debates to be held in early December.   The students research their topic, write a paper on it, then prepare notes and practice public speaking.  Technology, including online research, plays a big part in learning now especially in preparation for these face to face debates.   Teacher Maria Secoy holds the debates in her language arts class.

“Students use tablets to take their technology home with them,” says Secoy.  “We have a virtual classroom on Edmodo.  So everything that we do in class we also have access to online through Edmodo.  Students submit writing there I make comments, return it to them.  When students have questions about things going on in class, they can ask me not just from 10:30 to 11:30 Monday through Friday, but they can ask me anytime day or night even on weekends on Edmodo and I try to get back to them.  So we have a whole community, a whole classroom, set up online in addition to here in this building.”

“My name is Destiny.  My topic is for the pros that kids should get trophies even for participating not just for winning.  I like actually getting to explore all the different websites there are and getting to see everyone’s opinion and actually just getting to talk to my group and seeing what our actual opinions are on the topic.  Well I think it’s a good thing because it helps us for when we get older.  It helps us express our opinions about it and it just helps us learn how to research things, like if we ever have any questions about anything, we actually know how to do it now.  I just really like this and I’m pretty sure that Mrs. Secoy loves it too and I just hope that we get to do it again because it’s a really good experience for us.”

“My name is Damon.  I am con, I am against Destiny.   I don’t think we should get trophies because in the US we spend over three billion dollars, use it on trophies.”

And what has Damon enjoyed most about this project?

“Probably looking up our sources online and getting like face to face with everything and why we should actually do this.   It’s kind of like what Destiny said, it’s getting us prepared for real life experiences once we get older.  And it’s like setting us for college and everything like that, for like essays and stuff.  I’m probably going to be a little bit nervous, but since it’s just for my class it should be easy because I’ve been with them for years.”

“My name is Taylor.  My essay topic is that students should get paid for good grades.  I think they should get paid for A honor roll and A-B honor roll and then 600 SOL scores and advanced passing.  I think it’s kind of cool if kids would get paid for grades because they could learn how to manage their money and their time with it.  They could choose whether to save it or whether to spend it. I mean they have a lot of things they could choose to do to see what would they really do when they are older.   I know like a lot of our technology has helped us, because without the computers a lot of this wouldn’t be possible, because that’s where we do most of our research.”

And what has Taylor enjoyed most?

“Actually being able to see our progress through it and being able, when we actually get to debate, being able to go through with my side.”

The debate experience benefits students in many ways.

“It does hit a bunch of SOL’s and that’s great, because it’s important that we do that, but I think the most important part is the life skills the students develop through this process,” says Secoy.

Students will debate in front of their classmates, school principal Allison Hicklin and school superintendent Sue Hirsh.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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