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Inspire and Ignite Political Debate in the Classroom

Container Ban on River Passes

As a local New Braunfels resident and an educator, I thought the current river ban debate would make an excellent post for a research and persuasive paper assignment. It is also is a nice pairing with my recent Fakebook post as there are Facebook pages both for (“It’s Time to Protect Our Comal and Guadalupe Rivers“) and against the ban (“The River Belongs to Us Not City Council” & “Sign the Referendum to Recall the New Braunfels Container Ban Ordinance“). While I would not recommend using the actual Facebook pages for research as some of the comments have proven to be heated and inappropriate, teachers could glean both pages for arguments and direct quotes from both sides to provide a point of reference for the debate.

Last night the New Braunfels City Council by a vote to 5 to 1 banned disposable food and beverages from waterways within the city limits. This ban has ignited the interest of many residents who may or would not have been active in local government and want to have a voice… and a vote.

River Video taken August 15th, 2011 after a clean-up. 

Ignite Debate: Such a hot topic also proves to be a great fodder for classroom discussion and a wonderful vehicle for debate. Trying to say as unbiased as possible, I decided to build off of my previous Fakebook post:

New Braunfels City Council Meeting

  1. Teachers could create a simulated discussion to highlight basic arguments from both sides (by pulling quotes and posts from FB).
  2. Students would then get a RAFTS  assignment. (Consider all of the the parties (roles) that the ban will affect and all of the vested entities: NB City Council, NB Police, locals, residents on the river, river-oriented business, NB businesses, tourists, the media, state politicians). See Reading Rockets RAFTS info and templates.
  3. Based on their given or selected role, students would research arguments, statistics, and facts/info that would support their stance on the issue. The recent article from My San Antonio provides a great start.
  4. Students would complete a graphic organizer to record their findings before finalizing their project.
    1. Web 2.0: ExploratreePopplet, or HOLT Interactive Graphic Organizers
    2. iPad: Popplet or T-Charts (123 Charts for stats and data)
    3. iPod: T-Charts (123 Charts for stats and data)
  5. Students could then present their persuasive argument in multiple formats:

    Created with T-Chart app

    1. a news broadcast (using Videolicious and images from the council meeting and river)
    2. an letter/email to a local Congressman (When writing a letter/email, remind students to: know their facts, state their purpose, be personal, stay on message, don’t be partisan, be courteous, and request a response). Researching voting records and public stances for multiple congressional figures may help students locate Senators and Representatives that would be more sympathetic to their cause.)
    3. a website (Glogster EDU) or brochure/flier with all information gathered for or against ban that could be presented to locals and/or voters
    4. a persuasive essay
    5. a debate (live or virtually with Edmodo)
    6. a song/rap/poem (quick songs could be completed in using Songify)
    7. a proposal to provide alternate solutions to the ban or a revised law
    8. a 30-second commercial for or against the ban (check out Photostory)
    9. an interview with a RAFTS stakeholder

 River Video taken after Memorial Day, 2011 used in the media to support the ban

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