Educator Toolkit: Comment & Win

Why This Matters Now

For many students and educators, school break has arrived or will very soon.

Happy summer!

How will your students spend their vacation time? Between their trips to the beach, college summer programs, internships and just hanging out with friends, why not give them the chance to think, write and shine?

The KWHS Comment & Win is an annual contest that runs from late June to the end of August that is designed to encourage high school-age students to discover KWHS stories, podcasts and videos, and at the same time develop stronger reflective and persuasive writing skills. It includes biweekly rounds of competition, with a new theme introduced each round.

This year’s contest begins on Monday, June 24 and runs through Friday, August 30. Students can choose to participate in one or two rounds, or all four.

Hundreds of high school students from around the world have participated in the Comment & Win in the past few years, dazzling the KWHS team with their provocative, insightful and interesting perspectives. Many commenting threads inspire lively exchanges, prompting students to practice their reflective listening and discourse skills. These are fun to read and difficult to judge! Ultimately, the students who use the text to inform their comments, add value to the discussion around the text, express opinions clearly and succinctly, and have somewhat of an authentic voice, are selected as winners.

For us, that voice is everything. Liza Cowan, the English teacher who founded R.E.A.L. Discussion, a discussion-based learning system for secondary schools, recently said, “In today’s world, the stakes are high: students need to graduate confident that their voices matter and competent at engaging others with inquiry, evidence, and empathy.”

Even though you may not have your students in the classroom for the next few months – or even if you do – you can encourage them to strengthen these skills through the KWHS Comment & Win contest. Have them sign up for the website today (it’s free and simple), so they’re ready to express themselves on June 24. Get all the details HERE.

Resources

Article
Round 3 of the KWHS Comment & Win Contest Delivers Storytelling at Its Finest
When it comes to the Comment & Win, reading is believing. In this article, we invite you to immerse yourself in the reflections of high school students from around the world who competed in last year’s storytelling round. Read student comments, get lost in their stories, and check out the Round 3 winners. It’s a fun and inspiring exercise.

Once you’re done with this article, you can move on to this wrap-up of the Round 4 winners and the 2018 Grand Prize Winner, high school student Harry Xu from Dulwich College in Shanghai, China. Harry commented 18 times throughout the competition, often with strong points of view on such topics as Generation Z and social entrepreneurship.

Lesson Plan
Comment & Win Classroom Guide for Educators
Hot off the presses, our first lesson plan for high school teachers who are interested in assigning the Comment & Win to their students, either during summer break or in the classroom. Explore the process and learning objectives related to getting your students involved in the contest, assign a separate commenting portfolio project, and even take classroom commenting offline. This comprehensive guide also includes a KWHS Comment & Win grading rubric.

Online life is deeper than Instagram posts, as the commenting sections in publications like the New York Times reflect. In fact, the NYT receives some 9,000 comments per day, and has begun to cover its most dedicated commenters as it would a traditional news beat. Help students become critical thinkers and communicators online by assigning them KWHS articles to read and comment on. Have them respond to other comments and begin to build their analysis and strategy skills.

Hands-on Learning
Use the young voices from the Comment & Win contest to inspire conversation and debate around current events. This activity will likely take a few days of class time.

Form teams within the classroom and assign each team a topic from the list below. Have them read the related articles, conversation starters and comment threads and discuss the main points. What are the two sides to this debate? How do they feel about this issue?

Once they have discussed their topics, invite teams (one-by-one) to the front of the room. Prepare 5 questions to test their knowledge and to start the discussion around each topic. Then open the debate to the rest of the class to ask questions and challenge ideas. How well can each team (and team members with opposing views) defend their viewpoint?

Financial Literacy
Payday Loans and the Perils of Borrowing Fast Cash
Money Makes the World Go ‘Round

Is College Worth the Cost?
Would You Bypass College for Real-world Learning?

Jobs vs. Other Summer Experiences
The Value of a Summer Job

The Great Grade Debate
Is High School Killing Your Creativity?

Immigration Policy
Will the U.S. See Reform in 2019?
A Zero-generation American on What Shakes Him to the Core

The Essence of Leadership
What It Takes to Become a CEO

Artificial Intelligence and Society
The Allure of Artificial Intelligence

The National Debt
What’s Behind All Those Zeros?

KWHS Quote of the Month
“A lot of my classes this semester, such as Intro to Business and Business Ethics & Society, parallel extremely well with KWHS’s curriculum and learning style. Every week for these classes, we cover a new issue (such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Financial Literacy, and so on). We are each assigned to do our own online research and, just like the KWHS comment section, we offer our thoughts and insights based on our research and personal experiences! When we come to class, we discuss our posts and can even comment on others classmates’ posts, similar to KWHS articles. My professors have asked how I am so well informed, and I often tell them about KWHS.” – Aneesh Shinkre, 19, first Comment & Win grand prize winner who just finished his freshman year at the University of Miami, Florida

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