Monday, January 14, 2013

On The Fence

Just a quick post to share a great activity we did today during our history lesson. I used this idea (that I "borrowed" from an EdCamp Birmingham class) as an introduction to our lesson on women's suffrage. I wanted to get my kids moving and discussing before we ever got into the specifics of how women got the right to vote.

On the Fence: The teacher poses an idea (some hot-topic item), and the children decide what their opinions are about the idea. Everyone stands in the middle of the room as they listen to the idea. Next, they can move to the "yes" side, the "no" side, or stay on the fence if unsure of their opinions. Each group talks about reasons to support their choice, then they have a chance to convince the children in the other groups to move to their side. 

My four statements were:
  • Pizza should be one of the choices at lunch every day (my class was about 1/2 yes and 1/2 no).
  • It should be illegal for small children to play games rated "M" (I had more no's on this one).
  • Our school should have a uniform policy (3/4-no, 1/4 yes)
  • Children should be allowed to vote (1/2-yes, 1/2-no)
What was really interesting was listening to the reasons presented by each side. Some of them came up with really great reasons that I hadn't even thought about. This activity also provided the opportunity to discuss the phrase "On the fence" and exactly what that means. It was a great lead in to our lesson, because I was able to talk to the children about how everyone was able to express their opinions and cast a vote, but women weren't always allowed that opportunity. 

This strategy was a HUGE hit with my kiddos...and an eye-opener to me. I need to teach them more about speaking and listening skills, as well as what types of reasons actually support an opinion. I'll definitely be doing this more often!


  1. I love this idea! We go back to school to start the 2013 school year on Feb 4th, and National testing is just a few months after, so we have to prep the kids (ugh) for the writing aspect, which is the exposition genre. This would be a PERFECT intro/warm-up activity for the writing genre! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks, Laura! I hope it goes well for you and your kiddos, and good luck on that test!


  3. How fitting that we are about to have a lesson on women's suffrage! :) What a great way to get kids to think, collaborate, listen, and speak. Hmmm....does that sound like common core? :)




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