Science 9 – Today was the start of some research and writing on assisted reproductive technologies. Specifically, I asked the students to produce a persuasive essay. The handout I gave outlined 8 questions or ethical dilemmas around assisted reproduction. Each student has to decide on a question that they will take a stance on, and write an essay on their reasoning.
I framed the persuasive essay as an assessment tool that tells me about their scientific understanding of the topic, along with getting them to use critical thinking. The students were very engaged in this activity. We went to the library to use iPads and the wireless internet for their research, and most students managed to stay on task (a bit of an accomplishment in grade 9 I think). I’ve asked the students to tell me about the technology, pretending I don’t know anything about reproduction, and then to persuade me that their stance on the issue is the correct one. Several students weren’t sure how they could use research to justify their position. I suggested that something like a Wikipedia article may not support an argument one way or the other. However, they can research newspapers or other media for opinion letters and use this for reference material.