Tag Archives: collaboration

Research Topics – They’re Critical

To begin this journey of question, argument, creativity,  you need to form a partnership with another student in class. This project will ultimately become the determining factor of your second semester grade in CyberEnglish9, so please choose wisely. Select a partner you know will build you up, keep you on track, push your creativity, question your analysis, encourage exploding the box.

Once you have chosen a partner, you will begin brainstorming the topic you wish to research. We are going to begin this process by  answering a series of critical thinking questions. This will help you focus your topic, possibly reconsider it, and map out the next steps of the unit.

Critical Thinking Questions

  • Define the topic in your own words.
  • How is the topic present in your life? In the lives of most young adults?
  • How has the topic influenced you and other young adults?
  • What are the issues or conflicts associated with the topic?
  • How do those issues or conflicts affect you and other young adults?
  • Create a suggested solution to the issues or conflicts related to the topic.

EXAMPLE: Ms. Degenhardt’s and Ms. Johnson’s Topic: bullying

Define the topic in your own words.

Bullying creates and aggravates emotional bruising. It is the process by which negative, unnatural energy is applied to a victim by an external force. Victimization results in a change in the ability to see the self in a positive way. This change permanently alters the victim. Forever changes how they see the world around them, how they feel about themselves, how they associate and relate to other individuals.

How is the topic present in your life? In the lives of most young adults?

Bullying is a constant presence in my life. As a teacher, I see bullying and hear about it every day. When a student makes a comment out of hate or even ignorance, like “stop being such a retard,” I actually get angry. I shout in my head in frustration how can someone be so unnecessarily cruel. I can’t always hide my anger, which I need do to make it a “teachable moment.”

To address the situation and help students learn from that moment I have to ask myself, why did that just happen? before I can address it in the proper way. I can’t always answer that question. It’s a constant and exhausting process to identify and defend the victims in my classroom. I do it because if someone is being bullied in the classroom it makes it more difficult to learn. Do I always defend perfectly? no. I’m still working on it.

How has the topic influenced you and other young adults?

In addition to the classroom now, bullying had a huge impact on the decisions that I made as a young person. When I was fifteen I was the victim of a kind of bullying: gossip. This is verbal and emotional bullying that took place indirectly. Anyway, a parent of one of my friends told several other parents – including mine – that I was regularly doing drugs and drinking. Even though this was totally untrue, I probably spent more time trying to prove that it wasn’t true than I did just doing the things I needed to do in order to figure out my adolescent blur. I felt like I was always being watched and that I couldn’t experiment as young people should.

Bullying influences society and particular communities by setting up power structures, which are oh so complicated. To the greatest scale, I could argue that some countries bully other countries into making empty promises or signing unjust legislation. Forget the scale,  I could also argue that prejudicial, institutional bullying keeps minorities from believing that they can achieve higher than they are expected to and therefore they don’t…it’s called the achievement gap.

What are the issues or conflicts associated with the topic?

  • There are many different types of bullying: physical, emotional, verbal, cyber.
  • It is difficult to recognize bullying. Victims are usually more obvious than the bullies, but harder to help.
  • If you don’t stand up for a victim, does that make you a bully?
  • How can you stand up on your own behalf or on someone else’s behalf?
  • The reasons people become bullies are unclear: social experimentation, actual prejudice, following the crowd.

How do those issues or conflicts affect you and other young adults?

Bullying affects me on a personal level. Sometimes it causes me to feel trapped. If I witness bullying, but I feel like I didn’t or couldn’t stop it, it causes me to question my role as an educator. Should I hold the position of a teacher? Do I want to hold the position of a teacher?

High school is an extremely influential time in the development of young adults. Bullying experiences, whether the bully or the victim, during high school can alter the path traveled in life.

Create a suggested solution to the issues or conflicts related to the topic.

Education. Experience. Practice. It is vital for young adults to understand that bullying takes place at all age levels and resonates in various forms. Bullying extends beyond threatening someone. It comes in the shape of gossip, creating “drama”, online comments. Unfortunately, bullying is something that cannot be cured. It has always existed and always will. Just because we chalk it up to human nature, doesn’t mean we can’t actively fight against it.