My favorite classroom moment came in session two. I gave out three different sources to the class, all regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. One source was scholarly, one was popular, and one was a webpage from BP itself. I also gave out a form worksheet, and this worksheet’s purpose was to get the students to figure out who wrote the article, whether or not it was scholarly or popular, and whether or not this article was reliable and relevant to the sample thesis provided at the top of the worksheet. After 5-10 minutes, we first discussed the BP official statement webpage. This is where my favorite classroom moment occurred. When I asked whether or not the students would use this source for this thesis, two students simultaneously said ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ I asked these students to explain their positions. The ‘no’ student listed bias as their reason. As I was about to say maybe we would use this source to explain BP’s official position but not as a reliable source for factual information, a student who did not even have this source for the activity took the words out of my mouth.
I really appreciated this moment because I think student involvement is most important in the classroom, and I was so excited to hear these students participate the way they did.
Naturally, this was a hard moment to recreate in our meeting because the moment was all about how the students responded and what arguments they responded with. However, it was really great because I didn’t tell Brett or Kristen what to say, and they also said ‘no’ when I asked if they would use this source. I think it is important for us to remember the context in which sources are appropriate, and I feel that this activity addressed the context problem effectively on top of the sort of standard source evaluation it was geared toward.