True for Who?: Pictures of Practice
What does the routine look like in action?

Using the Routine to Explore a topic in the news

The class has been discussing a newspaper article with the headline: Children who watch more than two hours of television a day don’t do well in school. The newspaper article was written by a reporter who said he got his information by interviewing lots of parents. 

The class began by considering the claim as stated in the headline, but quickly realized it was too broad: Many students objected that it couldn’t be true that every single child in the whole world who watched more than 2 hours of TV did poorly in school!  So they clarified the claim as: Most of the time, children who watch more than 2 hours of television a day don’t do well in school.  After discussing the issue for a while, the children brainstormed possible perspectives, including TV producers, the editor of the newspaper, children who watch more than 2 hours of TV, children who watch less than 2 hours, teachers, and parents. Each student chose a viewpoint to dramatize. Here is how one student imagined the viewpoint of a TV producer.

  • My viewpoint is…I’m a TV producer

  • I think this claim is true/false/uncertain because…It depends on what they watch!  Some programs are very educational. It also depends on what else they are doing in addition to watching TV.  For example, one kid might watch three hours of TV and spend the rest of his time doing homework.  Another kid might spend it playing video games. 

  • What would convince me to change my mind is…If you could  show me that even kids who watch more than 2 hours of educational TV do poorly in school, regardless of what else they do with their spare time. 

After many different viewpoints were dramatized, the students stepped out of their role-playing and reflected on the issue.  Many students concluded that they thought the claim was unlikely to be true about every kid who watched more than 2 hours of TV, but that it was probably true for a lot of kids who do. As far as new ideas and questions, several students talked about how important it was to look at the other things in kids’ lives that might affect how well they do in school, not just the amount of TV they watch. One student even raised the question of whether it was the other way around:  Maybe instead of TV causing bad grades, getting bad grades causes kids to want to watch a lot of TV. For example, maybe when kids do poorly in school it makes them feel so bad that they start watching as lot of TV to escape from things. Maybe they’d still do badly – or even worse – even if they stopped watching TV!