Grade 5 students sharpened their academic skills as they advocated for various causes during an Advocacy Cafe in lower school classrooms on Friday, February 24. The cafe served as a supportive space for students to share their passions as they practiced public speaking. Backed by evidence, students presented cases for gun law reform, gender equality, and in support of cyberbullying and mental health awareness.
As students developed their academic skills, they prepared to present and defend their positions. After selecting a topic, they wrote a thesis and set out to find three reasons to support the statement and three pieces of evidence to support each reason.
The skill development from preparing for the Advocacy Cafe culminated in a confidence boost seen in all of the students who worked on the project.
“If you don't develop the nerve to speak in front of people when you are young, then you won't be able to do it when you are older,” said Mason Stein ’30.
Using time in Robbertz’s literacy class and Library Learning Common Specialist Leigh Roberts’ library class, students collected and tracked data to develop their positions. They wrote argumentative essays and cited sources in MLA format at the foot of their text. Students practiced research, note-taking, analysis, written argument, and rhetorical skills throughout the process.
Robbertz was impressed by the discipline students demonstrated in their project work.
“It was very evident from students' choices how much they know about our world,” Robbertz said, “and even more so, how passionate they are about changing it.”
Future lessons in nonfiction reading and writing will continue to sharpen the skills learned during the cafe project. At the core of the discussions will be the question, “how does the way we shape the world inadvertently shape us?”
The Advocacy Cafe laid the foundation for students to recognize their potential as changemakers.
“I feel like I might actually be able to make a change with my speech,” added Panos Kouligkas ’30.