Status Quo Database

Status Quo
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20-30 minutes (plus student prep time outside of class)

Before you begin a new set of readings and discussions about a new topic, ask students to write 1 page about the topic. (Provide one or two broad questions: Why is Barbie so popular? Why are so many Americans overweight? What is prison for?) Collect the writing, and redistribute them so that no one has her own paper. Ask students to underline any claims they can find in the paper before them. Then, put those claims up on the board; see if the class can find any common claims. Ask a student scribe to make a list of all of the common claims. Put those claims on the class toolkit page.
After a few days or more of reading and discussion, ask students to take a look at the list of claims and make note of any that seem incomplete or inaccurate. (Students can do this as prep or in class, while in small groups.) Share results as a class. These claims now constitute the status quo for the topic.