Committee in the Classroom

Committee in the Classroom

After all that research and writing, the delegates still need to practice a very important component. The practicing of the committee session either during class or at a scheduled time after class is essential to the students’ success at the MMUN Conference; even more so if it is the first year that the delegates will attend the conference. Here are some resources and exercises in to help in creating practice sessions. The topics in your practice sessions should be fun and not require much research. They are there to familiarize the delegates with the process of the committee session and the writing of a resolution.

Current Events

Activity: Students will take turns giving short speeches on a current event.

Goals: To raise awareness of global issues and help students gain more confidence when speaking before their peers. This activity emphasizes public speaking skills, which students will use throughout the MMUN Conference. This activity works best over an extended period of time.

Time: Set the dates on which you want your class to participate in this activity. It can be every day for a week, or a specific day of the week (e.g. every Monday), or it can be daily.

Materials: Students will need to bring in articles into class (or during after school meeting times) to speak about them.

Instructions for Teachers:

  1. Ask your students to bring a news article to class. They can cut out articles from newspapers and magazines, or they can print out news articles they find online.
  2. Have your students take turns sharing their news articles. Ask them to stand when speaking. Allow them to read directly from their news articles at first to build their confidence as public speakers.

After two or so rounds of current events presentations, you can:

  1. Ask your students not to read from their news articles; but they may write down notes or bullet points on a separate piece of paper to help them.
  2. Encourage students to select international news sources, particularly influential outlets like BBC, Al-Jazeera, Xinhua, etc. They can present the article as written, from the perspective of the country where the news source originates, or even compare the same current event as described by two different news sources.
  3. (Optional) Ask your students to watch the evening news (either local or national news channels such as CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, or even comedic news such as The Daily Show or Colbert Report). During a current events activity, direct your students to deliver their speeches as if they were news anchors.

Evaluation:

  1. Ask the rest of your students to identify the most important parts of the speaker’s news articles. Use this activity as an opportunity to describe the 5 W’s: who, what, where, when, and why (also “how”).
  2. Ask each student questions about their current event. If a student mentions something that the class might be unfamiliar with, ask that student to elaborate. The student may not know the answer, in which case you can ask the student to further research the issue. As your students become more familiar with global issues, you can use current events to prompt classroom discussions.

MMUN Made Easy

Activity: The teacher will run a short Model UN simulation in class. The teacher will act as the Chair and use simple ‘Rules of Procedure.’

Goals: The only way to really learn Model UN is to experience a Model UN committee. Unless the teacher is already familiar with Model UN, this makes Model UN difficult to teach. But, this activity is designed to get around this problem.

Think of running a Model UN committee as running a classroom discussion. In a classroom discussion, students raise their hands when they want to speak and the teacher calls on each in turn. In a Model UN committee, delegates raise their placards when they want to speak and the Chair calls on each in turn.

A Model UN committee looks and sounds different than a classroom discussion because the committee language is very formal (distinguished Chair, distinguished delegate, the government of [country name] believes, points and motions, etc.). But once you learn the language, you’ll see that a Model UN committee is simply a very structured way to hold a classroom discussion.

Time: 50 minutes

Materials: Self-made placards, stopwatch or clock.

Instructions for Teachers:

  1. Select a topic for discussion. For your first simulation, select a topic that your students can easily form opinions on.
  2. The topic can be an issue related to your school or community. For example, your students could discuss the food in the school cafeteria. Some prompts might be: “Should anything be added or taken away to the lunch menu?” “Is it delicious or healthy enough for students?” “Is the food costly?”
  3. The topic could also be something funny. For example, which is better: “Fruits or Vegetables?” or “Who is better, Batman or Superwoman?”
  4. Communicate this topic to your students, and ask them to start forming opinions (perhaps even doing research). Remember, the goal of this exercise is not so much the substance, but to get you and your students accustomed to using Model UN language.
  5. Arrange classroom seating. Most classrooms will find that arranging chairs in a semi-circle or horseshoe format is best for discussion, with the Chair (you) sitting in front of the semi-circle. And if you have access to a room with a boardroom table and all students can sit around the table, with the Chair at the head of the table, then that would work well, too.
  6. Ask your students to create placards. Each student can fold a sheet of paper length-wise and write his or her name on it in black marker (so you can see it). In a Model UN committee, they would represent a country, but for this simulation, students will represent themselves.
  7. When you and your students are seated, begin the committee with the following:“Greetings, distinguished delegates. I am your Chair, and I now call this committee to order. Today, we are discussing the topic of [topic]. Each speaker will have one minute to speak. All those wishing to speak, please raise your placards at this time.”

Most likely, a few students will raise their placards, but not everyone. This is okay, as students find different ways to engage themselves in Model UN besides public speaking. Just be encouraging, and as the simulation continues, show them how easy it can be to give a one-minute speech.

  1. Select a student who is raising his/her placard to speak about the topic by saying, “Delegate of [name], you have the floor for one minute. Please stand for your speech.” Use a clock or stopwatch to record speaking time. When a delegate finishes speaking, say, “Thank you for your speech, distinguished delegate. You may now sit down.”

If one minute expires and the delegate is still speaking, then kindly cut him or her off by saying, “Excuse me, distinguished delegate. Thank you for your speech, but your time has expired. You may now sit down.”

  1. Repeat the process by asking “All those wishing to speak, please raise your placards at this time.” Select another student to speak and repeat the phrases mentioned in Step 6. You can repeat this process several times until students are comfortable with the language. After several speeches, say, “Are there any points or motions on the floor?” At this time, delegates can raise their placards if they want to do one of the following:“Point of information.” The delegate can then ask you (the Chair) a question. You may respond to the question and then move on. It can be a question about the topic, or if the room is too cold, etc.

“Motion to suspend the meeting for a formal consultation of ten minutes with one minute interventions.” The purpose of this motion is for delegates to formally discuss the issue. Each delegate must raise their placard to speak and has a time limit of one minute.

All motions take a vote. Say, “All those who are in favor of suspending the meeting for a formal consultation of ten minutes with one minute interventions, please raise your placards at this time.” Count how many delegates raise their placards. Then say, “All those opposed, please raise your placards at this time.” Count those placards. If there are more in favor than those opposed, then say, “This motion passes. We are now in a formal consultation of ten minutes.” Otherwise, say, “This motion fails. Are there any other motions on the floor?”

“Motion to suspend the meeting for an informal consultation of 10 minutes.” The purpose of this motion is for delegates to informally discuss amongst themselves. They can leave their seats and move about the room, looking for their regional groups to discuss common goals and develop working papers.

All motions take a vote. Say, “All those who are in favor of suspending the meeting for an informal consultation of ten minutes please raise your placards at this time.” Count how many delegates raise their placards. Then say, “All those opposed, please raise your placards at this time.” Count those placards. If there are more in favor than those opposed, then say, “This motion passes. We are now in an informal consultation of ten minutes.” Otherwise, say, “This motion fails. Are there any other motions on the floor?”

“Motion to adjourn the meeting.” The purpose of this meeting is to adjourn the meeting for lunch or for the day.

All motions take a vote. Say, “All those who are in favor of adjourning the meeting please    raise your placards at this time.” Count how many delegates raise their placards. Then say, “All those opposed, please raise your placards at this time.” Count those placards. If there are more in favor than those opposed, then say, “This motion passes the meeting is adjourned.” Otherwise, say, “This motion fails. Are there any other motions on the floor?”

Understanding Consensus

Consensus is a group decision-making process in which group members develop and agree to support a decision in the best interest of the whole. Consensus may be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported, even if not the “favorite” of each individual. It is used to describe both the decision and the process of reaching a decision. If there is a vote, it is not Consensus.

Activity: Pizza Lunch

Goal: To reach consensus.


Instructions for Teachers

Teachers present this activity to demonstrate the challenges of reaching consensus.

  1. Explain that everyone is having pizza for lunch. Everyone gets a piece paper that says his or her dietary needs or preferences such as:
  • Likes tomatoes, is a vegan
  • Hates onions, loves meat
  • Vegetarian who loves cheese
  • Vegan who hates broccoli
  • Meat eater who is allergic to dairy
  1. Give delegates 15 minutes to reach agreement on what kind of pizza they can all eat. They cannot order PERSONAL pizzas.
  2. Create the parallel between the pizza as the topic and the agreement on what pizza to consensus on the issue.
  3. Have students share the challenges and opportunities in reaching consensus (agreement on lunch).

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