Roundtable Debates + Observer Reports

15.01.2016 GFFA im City Cube

First observer report is due on Monday! The outline for the observer report is on the back of the debate rubric. In case you need it, here are the expectations for the observer report.

Observer’s Reports:

On days you are not debating, you are still expected to actively participate by taking notes and asking questions. You will be expected to write two “observer’s reports” (~1.5 pages) detailing:

  1. what you saw and heard during the debate
  2. what the most convincing arguments on both sides were
  3. which side you ultimately sided with on the issue and why (should be the largest part of your report)

Observer reports are not meant to be formal papers – rather, they simply show me that you were engaged in the discussion, learned something meaningful about both sides, and took the time to carefully consider the moral implications of the issue.

Roundtable Debate Rubric: MoralityModernIssuesRoundTables

Debate Guidelines: MoralityDebateExpectations


Thanks to all the groups that have gone this week – I’ve been impressed by your capacity to look at these issues seriously and consider various perspectives.

To all the groups going next week, notice what went well or what could be improved – and DO that! You’ve got the precedence of your brave, trailblazing peers to help you improve your own project. Use that privilege!


Perspectives on Abortion


The first moral issue that we will discuss will be abortion. Since well before 1973, when two Supreme Court cases legalized abortion in the United States, the issue of abortion has held a central place within U.S. culture.

Recognizing that this is an incredibly personal and emotional issue, please remember personal attacks have no place in this classroom – love another, please. At the same time, DO raise any questions or opposing views that are on your mind – these are the key to a  helpful discussion that actually addresses the issues. Just make these questions and points thoughtfully and compassionately. We are seeking truth together – trust that we genuinely want the best for one another.

In order to help us discuss the issue of abortion, I have selected a few readings that offer different perspectives on the issue from the lens of the Catholic Church that you may be unfamiliar with. I have personally found these perspectives helpful in trying to understand why the Church teaches what it does.

For tomorrow (Friday), please read whichever of the two readings below interests you more, and write a 2 paragraph summary of the main ideas of the article as well as any ideas that you found new or interesting, and a 1 paragraph personal response to those ideas. Make sure that your personal response discusses the ideas of the article (not the author!) and raises any questions or statements that didn’t make sense to you. Disclaimer: both of these are from a Catholic perspective, since they will guide our lesson on the Church’s teaching and reasoning on the issue. We will discuss other perspectives on the issue on Monday!

Option 1: The Relationship between Poverty and Abortion – Poverty and Abortion A Vicious Cycle

Option 2: A Catholic Feminist Perspective on Abortion: Women Deserve Better Than Abortion

(Additionally, if reading about the Church just gets you angry, you may want to check out either Pro-life Humanists or Feminist for Life . Both of these secular organizations offer some non-religious perspectives and reasoning on the issue of abortion that you may find more interesting or engaging.)


Listening to the Other


Today in class, we discussed the importance of learning to listen and take another perspective. The Wright brothers’ style of debating is a perfect example of this – we only stand to benefit from trying to really hear and understand the “other” side.

For Thursday, please read this short opinion piece titled “The ‘Other Side’ is Not Dumb” by Sean Blanda, a writer for The Medium:

After you finish reading, please fill out this Google Form with reflection questions:

Science and Morality


Our next mini-unit will be on the relationship between science and morality. In the 21st century, there are many voices on both sides of the spectrum that disavow the importance of these two areas of study, but is it true that science makes theology obsolete and valueless? What should the relationship between science and theology be?

This is critical in the area of morality, since many take the view that morality and ethics are purely evolutionary mechanisms, and can be explained through the hard sciences of biology, chemistry, and psychology.

This article takes a look at how this view developed, some of the (often bad) dialogues that have happened between scientists and theologians, and offers a solution to moving forward.

For Thursday, please the article (“Can Evolution Explain Morality?” – only read the first article!) and answer the following 5 questions on a separate sheet of paper. Each answer should be a short paragraph, 3-4 sentences with supporting quotations from the reading:

  1. What is evolutionary naturalism? What does it say about religion and theology?
  2. How is Paul Bloom’s study on the morality of babies an example of evolutionary naturalism?
  3. Choose 3 of the theologians and scientists from the section titled “Theological Issues” and give a short explanation of their views on the relationship between science and religion, and the author’s own critique of their view.
  4. Why does the author end by comparing evolution to grammar? What does he mean by this?
  5. In the author’s point of view, are science and theology incompatible areas of inquiry? Why or why not?

Freedom, Love, Conscience – Creative Writing

Hi all,

Just a friendly reminder to send me your creative writing projects sometime today or tomorrow. They are due by 3 PM Monday in my email inbox. Easiest way is to share it with me on Google Docs.

If you lost your rubric or need a refresher on how to do the project, you can download a copy of the rubric by clicking here.

Remember – it is graded half on how well you integrate the ideas from class into your writing, and half on the quality of the writing itself.

If you are planning on doing an alternative project, please email me and double-check that it’s okay!

Hope you enjoy it (as much as a project can be enjoyed) – and praying for you all on this Divine Mercy Sunday.

Mr. K has the flu – creative writing project postponed

Hi all,

Just letting you know that I will not be in class today. I woke up early last night with stomach pain and spent the rest of the night in the bathroom…

Needless to say, I won’t be there today. With the sub, you will do 2 things:

  1. Examination of Conscience – we will be going as a class to Reconciliation on Monday, so in order to help you prepare, you will fill out an examination of conscience as prayer. This should be done silently and prayerfully – I’ve informed the sub to write down the names on anyone talking or goofing off during prayer, and you will lose points on your prayer project.
  2. Creative Writing Project Brainstorming – after prayer, you will have the second half of class to begin brainstorming for your creative writing project. You will reflect on and answer 3 questions that will hopefully spur your thinking. We’ll go over the project next week, and I will give you all the break and then some to get it finished.

Hope all is well, and that no one else is going through this. If you are, power to ya!

Conscience, Pt. 2

For tomorrow (Tuesday, April 4), please read the rest of the Conscience article. At the beginning of Unit 3, we discussed Chapter A, “What Conscience Is.” For tomorrow, I would like you to read Chapters B, C, and D and answer the reflection questions below. Keep in mind that for full credit, you must answer the questions correctly, thoroughly, and by referencing the article.

Readingconscience (sorry again that it’s sideways! Most PDF readers have an option to rotate it – might make it easier to read!)


Also, please remember to get your permission slips signed by tomorrow, as well!!!