Should plastic straws be banned? This was the topic debated in Tanya Becker’s second-grade integrated ENL class at Ann MacArthur Primary School. Using persuasive writing, the students chose one side of this topical issue and made their viewpoint known.
Ms. Becker and her co-teacher Suzette Ioannou said the debate took place after the class researched the topic by reading an article on whether or not plastic straws should be banned. The information in the article was discussed in small groups before each child wrote their opinion with supporting information, based on the article and their personal experiences.
Those students favoring the banning of plastic straws pointed out that the straws can injure animals and are bad for the environment. On the opposing side, students said that straws are needed by people with certain disabilities and that those using the straws should learn to recycle them.
Once each student in the class had read their persuasive essay, they answered questions as to whether or not the debate changed their own opinion. Some students said that indeed, a classmate had provided information that changed their opinion.
Ms. Becker and Ms. Ioannou explained that this type of challenging assignment will help prepare students for future academic goals and achievements and that the topic was chosen because it was one that the students could relate to regardless of language acquisition.