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Pocomoke Middle School and Salisbury University: Partners in Education

Seventh grade students at Pocomoke Middle school enjoyed an innovative lesson in argumentation during a visit by Dr. Jay Imbrenda from Salisbury University’s Education Specialties Department. Working in close collaboration with seventh-grade teacher Mrs. Hanna Poist, Poist and Imbrenda designed a lesson by adapting techniques from a research-based approach that Dr. Imbrenda originally used with high school students. Throughout the lesson, students built arguments around the question of whether they would rather have really comfortable shoes or a really comfortable mattress. They focused on generating strong support for their claims and articulating clear principles to guide their reasoning.

The lesson was warmly received by the students, who became deeply engaged in the fun, yet challenging activities. Later, interviewed about their impressions from the session, the students shared their opinions of the presentations. They were thrilled to be visited by a real writing researcher and enthralled with his engaging personality.

Amber, a seventh grader, expressed how the students felt about the visit, “When Dr. Imbrenda from Salisbury University came to Pocomoke Middle School it was an awesome experience for me! I learned a lot about arguments. I learned that you have to have a lot of people agree with your claim for it to be efficient.”

Given the emphasis placed on argumentation in current curriculum, as well as the growing body of research demonstrating the importance of argumentative reasoning in fostering college and career readiness, seeing the students engage enthusiastically in the lesson was a real delight. Mrs. Poist, who is working on her education doctorate at SU, proved that taking risks can really pay off when we set high expectations for our students.

Mr. Record, principal of Pocomoke Middle School, expressed hope that this beginning partnership between Salisbury University and Pocomoke Middle School will continue to bring more innovative research based instructional practices to the school’s students and faculty.