Debate-Inspired Classrooms Learning Plan

How can Debate-Inspired Classrooms better engage students as leaders in their own learning? The CERES Institute for Children & Youth is partnering with the Boston Debate League and Boston Public Schools’ Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School to answer this question and more.

About BDL’s Debate-Inspired Classrooms
The Boston Debate League’s Debate-Inspired Classrooms program is built on the premise that transformative K-12 learning environments require classrooms rooted in student leadership, self-direction, collaboration, and reasoning.

Over the last seven years, the BDL has partnered with teachers and administrators of 13 schools in Boston to:

1) provide comprehensive and personalized coaching to every teacher within each school,
2) lead faculty-wide professional development,
3) invest in expert teacher leaders in each building, and
4) support and provide consulting to the school leaders and instructional leadership teams.

More recently, BDL has also involved students directly in the feedback process with teachers to engage youth in the transformation of their educational experiences. The goal is to build these student-driven practices into the culture of learning and instruction in each classroom and across entire schools.

CERES’ Approach
Over the next two years, the CERES Institute for Children & Youth at BU Wheelock College of Education & Human Development (CERES) will be the learning partner with the Boston Debate League (BDL) and the Dr. William W. Henderson Inclusion School.

Together, the CERES Institute and BDL teams will co-create and refine tools for BDL staff, coaches and teachers. These tools will support a deeper inquiry into the dynamics of coach-teacher interactions and closely examine the development of Debate-Inspired Teaching Practices. Assessments and measures will also aid coaches and teachers in determining students’ academic engagement, curiosity, collaboration and assertiveness, as well as document the development of empowered and engaged classrooms.

The goals of this project are to:

  • document essential practices of the BDL’s Debate-Inspired Classrooms program,
  • engage with both teachers and students to develop a deep understanding on how they experience the Debate-Inspired Classrooms program,
  • incorporate continuous learning tools to provide actionable data on engagement across student experiences of the program and
  • use learnings from these tools to offer suggestions on programmatic changes.

Current Initiatives

Relationship-Focused Schools Initiative

Relationship-Focused Schools Initiative

In partnership with MENTOR (the National Mentoring Partnership), CERES Institute is working with a set of school districts on how they can develop a “relationships strategy” for their schools. CERES Institute will serve as a research and evaluation partner for MENTOR during this three-year initiative.

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Choices and Challenges

Choices and Challenges

In Florida, thanks to a robust school choice environment, parents of students with disabilities have access to several educational options through two specific statewide scholarship programs. To shed light on how parents utilize these scholarships, a team of researchers from CERES Institute for Children and Youth, in partnership with the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, share findings from a mixed-methods study, conducted between fall 2020 to spring 2021, as well as implications for policy and practice.

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Evaluation of the Department of Youth Services’ YES Initiative

Evaluation of the Department of Youth Services’ YES Initiative

The CERES Institute for Children & Youth is examining how the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Youth Services’ Youth Engaged in Services Initiative – the YES Initiative – provides voluntary individualized supports to youth involved with the juvenile justice system and the impact of the YES Initiative on youth recidivism rates.

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The Center for Promise

The Center for Promise

The Center for Promise is the applied research institute of America’s Promise Alliance, housed at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development. Its mission is to develop a deep understanding of the conditions necessary for young people in the United States to succeed in school and life.

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