How I Keep Students Engaged: MUN

How I Keep Students Engaged: MUN

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Hello and happy Saturday. If you don’t know what MUN stands for, where have you been hiding all these years? MUN stands for Model of the United Nations and is basically a foolproof activity when you’re teaching teenagers.

When I was at school, MUN was this big thing where you had to dress up and prepare for months, and most of the people who attended ended up studying law or economics or you know, boring adult stuff. As an academic activity, MUN has everything, especially if you’re an English or a Social Studies teacher, and you don’t need a massive event; you can adapt it to your classroom in whichever way you like.

I used MUN to work with tenth graders on the subject of globalization, so what I did is I looked through all the material there is and picked the topic: “Education as a tool to prevent violent extremism.” The idea with this topic is that students would 1. Interpret the topic according the country they represented, and 2. Understand the role of globalization when talking about education and extremism. Students had the chance to ask questions related to the topic, but like I said, the idea was for them to redirect it however they saw fit. Of course, for this they had already selected their country, and the good thing is that even if you have a numerous class, each students can get a country assigned.

Time was an issue for me, so we only had time to write and read opening speeches. I gave my students guidelines, and I even found a sample speech they could use as a base for what they had to write. Like I explained in a previous post, I did give them a one-minute limit and once it was met, I would cut them off, saying “thank you, delegate.”

Now, I personally believe that you can carry out a MUN for a whole term and that you will be able to accomplish many goals through it. I have to be honest and admit that I really wasn’t focusing on the content of my students’ speeches, but rather on the use of formal language when writing, and their fluency, pronunciation and overall performance when reading the speech. That being said, this was a two-week activity. We didn’t get to carry out debates or do working papers, although I would’ve loved it and they kept asking me when that would happen.

If you’re a new teacher or you want to incorporate new classroom management strategies, MUN will also be super helpful because you have points, and motions, as well as rules of conduct within the model that you can apply to your classroom. For example, if a student (delegate) is talking with out your (the chair’s) permission, that gives them a warning. After three warnings, delegates are usually required to leave the session, but you can’t do that when you’re in class, so instead you can say that each time a student gets three strikes, you’ll lower their grade or whichever consequence you decide.

In my experience, following the MUN procedures was more useful in terms of classroom management than when we were carrying out “regular” lessons. My students used their name plates to participate and to vote, which gives them a sense of empowerment that they usually don’t get. It’s like they can decide what’s going to happen next in the agenda.

Have you done MUN in your classroom? How did you adapt it? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy teaching!

Love, Miss Camila