In English, we do things a little different if you haven’t noticed. We don’t have the typical English class feel and we don’t do the things how other teachers do things. We do things Theriault style. We have innovation projects, Twitter chats, blogs, Brain Fuel, and BRAWLs. We go in to class every day having no idea what to expect or if we’ll be doing anything school related that day. It can be pretty awesome. This is one of those things we do that is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. This is the BRAWL.
I’m sure everyone knows what a Socratic Seminar is. And if you don’t, you’re one Google search away from knowing. Well the BRAWL is a kind of twist on the Socratic and on paper, it looks pretty solid. I believe it stands for Battle Royal All Will Learn. Check out Theriault’s post if you want an extended definition of what it is <http://thereadinessisall.com/2012/12/21/lets-brawl-throwing-socratic-seminars-out-of-the-ring/> otherwise, I’ll just give a brief description. Basically, the students come up with questions for it a few days before based on the novel they’re reading. Each student is assigned a different group: some have specific, some have comparison, organization, unusual, or theme. Once those questions are submitted via Google doc, the teacher chooses around 5 questions for each category. The next day in class the different groups work on answering the questions for the following day when the BRAWL will take place.
On the day of the BRAWL, no one knows who will be chosen to participate. It’s completely random, like whoever has the last name closest to z. Those students from each group enter the “inner ring” and will be answering the randomly chosen questions during the BRAWL. The students not in the BRAWL are supposed to take notes and help their teammate out. The teacher runs the BRAWL and picks which questions they want to be answered. Each student is allowed only one response to the main question and two replies to a student who has already answered the question. The teacher assigns a certain amount of points each time you talk and that determines who wins the BRAWL in the end..
Alright, that was a pretty sorry excuse for an explanation of what the heck the BRAWL is and I’m sorry but I don’t know how to describe it very well. I’ve only done it once and I’m still a bit confused. However, from that first time I noticed that there are a few flaws in this version of a Socratic. I didn’t like how the students are limited in their responses. I understand that everyone needs to get a chance to speak and it makes some of those people who enjoy rambling on and on without a point to think wisely about what they want to talk about, but some students forgot there was a limit and blew both their replies in the first 10 minutes. Also, the quality of the questions are awful. It’s our first BRAWL and some students aren’t as dedicated to reading the assigned chapters, so the questions are horrible. Some are asking why there’s a semi colon and other outrageous questions that don’t have answers. Another thing is you had to raise your hand to speak instead of just talking without needing permission, which can be good because there are less interruptions but if the teachers chooses someone else before you, there’s that risk that they’ll take everything you were going to say. I did like the idea that you’re working in teams to answer the questions because it makes you feel more prepared when you’re going in to the BRAWL. I also enjoyed the smaller group that is participating in the discussion because it’s less about trying to get all your replies in and more about the quality of what you’re going to say. So far, the BRAWL needs a few improvements, but I think it’s an interesting idea. I’m kind of dreading the time when I have to do another Socratic Seminar to be honest. Ahhh this year has gone by too fast.