Purpose: What kind of thinking
does this routine encourage?
This is routine builds on children's familiarity with the game of
tug of war to help them understand the complex forces that "tug"
at either side of a fairness dilemma. It encourages students to
reason carefully about the "pull" of various factors that are relevant
to a dilemma of fairness. It also helps them appreciate the deeper
complexity of fairness situations that can appear black and white
on the surface.
Application: When and Where can
it be used?
This routine can be used in any situation where the fairness dilemma
seems to have two obvious and contrasting ways of being resolved.
Dilemmas can come from school subjects or everyday life: testing
of medicine on animals, adding people to a game once it has started,
censoring a book in a library, and so on.
Launch: What are some tips for starting
and using this routine?
The routine works well as a whole class activity. Present the dilemma
to the class. Draw or place a rope with the two ends representing
the opposing sides of the dilemma and ask students to think about
what side of the dilemma they would be on and why. Students can
write their justifications on post-it notes. Encourage students
to think of other reasons or "tugs" for both sides of
the dilemma, and then have students add their post-it notes to the
rope. Stand back and ask students to generate "What if's:"
questions, issues, factors or concerns that might need to be explored
further to resolve the issue. Write and post these above the rope.
Finish the lesson by asking students to reflect on the activity.
What new ideas they have about the dilemma? Do they still feel the
same way about it? Have they made up minds or changed their minds?
The display of the tugs and What if's? on the
rope helps to make students' thinking visible. Most importantly,
their ideas are displayed in a way that shows their interconnectedness.
The collaborative thinking process of the group as a whole is represented
through the "action" of the tug of war. This is a key point about
making thinking visible: It shows the dynamic interaction of people's
thoughts in a context of a shared inquiry. Documenting thinking
and making it visible in the classroom can facilitate this interaction
in order to make the inquiry richer.