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Dear ProCon.org readers, we need your help. The average cost for ProCon.org to educate 26 people with nonpartisan research on important issues is $1. The average taxi fare in America is about $10. We are asking everyone who visits ProCon.org to donate the cost of one taxi ride – at least $10 – to this important charity. Without your support, the programs at ProCon.org that serve millions of students, teachers, and others cannot exist. Our charitable work is funded entirely by your donations.

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I. Free Lesson Planning with ProCon.org


  1. Lesson Plan Ideas Using ProCon.org
  2. 15 National Teaching Standards Used by Incorporating ProCon.org Content into Lesson Plans
  3. Benefits of Teaching Controversial Issues
  4. How Educators Are Using ProCon.org

A. Lesson Plan Ideas Using ProCon.org
  1. Distinguishing Fact from Opinion - Give students a list of 20 different statements from ProCon.org that are clearly factual, clearly opinion, and some that are difficult to categorize. Have students mark each statement as "O" for opinion or "F" for fact. Guide a discussion with students sharing and explaining their answers. Have students consider the reasons why distinctions between fact and opinion may be problematic.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12, NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  2. Weighing the Evidence - Examine two well-supported statements that argue the same issue from different perspectives, one pro and one con. Have students list all the relevant information and supporting evidence that would have to be provided to them before they would agree that the claim has been adequately supported.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12, NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.6

  3. In This Writer's Opinion - Have students write editorials or letters to the editor to be submitted to local newspapers. Students choose a controversial topic from ProCon.org and conduct research on the website to get a range of relevant facts, opinions, and perspectives. The students then write their editorials or letters using persuasive arguments and effective reasoning and evidence while anticipating criticisms of their opinions.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.5, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.11

  4. Select-and-Fill-In (SAFI) Concept Maps - Create hierarchical or tree-like maps starting with a ProCon.org issue and having students add their own subissues and questions as "concepts" linked together. Guide a discussion of the resulting maps and create one master map for the ProCon.org issue.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.5, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  5. Engage Peers Outside the Classroom - Have students research issues and share what they learned with other students inside the school. Examples of ways to engage peers include: writing pro and con articles to be published side-by-side for the school newspaper, preparing public address announcements, creating pamphlets for on-campus distribution, or preparing a presentation for a school assembly.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12

  6. Essay Writing - Have students write essays advocating a pro or con position on an important social issue.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12

  7. Extemporaneous Speech - Have students give speeches espousing either a pro or con position on an important social issue. Students should have minutes to prepare.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.8, NL-ENG.K-12.11, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  8. Group Discussion Web - Have students form small groups to decide their cumulative pro or con perspective on an issue. Then have a small group merge with another small group to form a larger group and cumulatively select their group's pro or con position. Repeat the process until the entire classroom has a single pro or con position.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.5, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  9. Informal Debate with "Devil's Advocate" - Have an informal debate with students on an issue. The instructor will play "devil's advocate" by shifting from one side of the argument to the other. This may be an especially useful exercise if a significant majority of students share the same views on an issue, or if one side appears weaker. The instructor can serve as a model for good debate tactics.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.8, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  10. Lincoln-Douglas Debate - Have student groups formulate pro or con arguments on an important issue using ProCon.org. They would then present a written summary of their arguments and identify areas where the opposing group may find weaknesses in their arguments. Have students perform the debate.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.1, NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.8, NL-ENG.K-12.11, NL-ENG.K-12.12, NSS-C.9-12.5

  11. Online Discussion - Have students discuss an issue in an online message board. Encourage students to directly respond to each other's statements. The instructor should moderate the online discussion and help move along the debate.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12

  12. Rehearsed Speech - Have students given speech advocating a pro or con position on an important social issue. Students should have days to prepare.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.8, NL-ENG.K-12.11, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  13. Role-Play Debate - Have students role play pro or con figures in important social issues and then debate classmates on those issues.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.5, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.12, NSS-C.9-12.2, NSS-C.9-12.5, NA-T.9-12.2

  14. Role Reversal and Compromise - After students have researched a topic, place them in teams to debate a topic. Half way through the debate, reverse the teams' roles and have them present the arguments they just debated against. Then have the teams abandon advocacy and write a compromise report to synthesize both pro and con arguments.

    Standards Met: NL-ENG.K-12.3, NL-ENG.K-12.4, NL-ENG.K-12.6, NL-ENG.K-12.8, NL-ENG.K-12.12

  15. Writing a Letter to a Political Figure - Have students research both the pros and cons of an issue. Once they choose a position, have them write a persuasive letter to their elected representatives or a government official.

    Standards Met: NCTE 4, NCTE 5, NCTE 7, NCTE 12

    For more ideas on lesson plan development, here are some full lesson plans (mostly from our "How Schools Are Using ProCon.org" web page): PBS' Sin Pais US immigration policy analysis (grades 6-12), Making Choices: An Exploration of Political Preferences (7th grade), Conflict in Palestine: A Research Guide (high school level), The Technology of Voting (high school level), Dying to Be a Martyr (no grade level specified), The Write Stuff (college level), Activities Based on Dr. Caroline Hatton's Book The Night Olympic Team (high school), the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program Controversial Issues lesson (Grades 6-8 and 9-12), HBO’s The Fence lesson plan, Writing a Position Paper and Preparing for a Debate on Controversial Issues in Psychology (high school), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education's "Illegal Immigration: An Economic Debate" Argumentative/Persuasive Writing lesson plan (11th and 12th grade).
B. 15 National Teaching Standards Used by Incorporating ProCon.org Content into Lesson Plans
  1. NA-T.9-12.2 ACTING BY DEVELOPING, COMMUNICATING AND SUSTAINING CHARACTERS IN IMPROVISATIONS AND FORMAL OR INFORMAL PRODUCTIONS
    Achievement Standard:
    • Students analyze the physical, emotional, and social dimensions of characters found in dramatic texts from various genres and media.
    • Students compare and demonstrate various classical and contemporary acting techniques and methods.
    • Students in an ensemble, create and sustain characters that communicate with audiences.

    Achievement Standard, Advanced:
    • Students demonstrate artistic discipline to achieve an ensemble in rehearsal and performance.
    • Students create consistent characters from classical, contemporary, realistic, and nonrealistic dramatic texts in informal and formal theater, film, television, or electronic media productions.

  2. NCTE 4
    Students adjust their use of spoken, written and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

  3. NCTE 5
    Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

  4. NCTE 7
    Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

  5. NCTE 12
    Students use spoken, written and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion and the exchange of information).

  6. NL-ENG.K-12.1 READING FOR PERSPECTIVE
    Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

  7. NL-ENG.K-12.3 EVALUATION STRATEGIES
    Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

  8. NL-ENG.K-12.4 COMMUNICATION SKILLS
    Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

  9. NL-ENG.K-12.5 COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES
    Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

  10. NL-ENG.K-12.6 APPLYING KNOWLEDGE
    Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

  11. NL-ENG.K-12.8 DEVELOPING RESEARCH SKILLS
    Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

  12. NL-ENG.K-12.11 PARTICIPATING IN SOCIETY
    Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

  13. NL-ENG.K-12.12 APPLYING LANGUAGE SKILLS
    Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

  14. NSS-C.9-12.2 FOUNDATIONS OF THE POLITICAL SYSTEM
    What are the Foundations of the American Political System?
    • What is the American idea of constitutional government?
    • What are the distinctive characteristics of American society?
    • What is American political culture?
    • What values and principles are basic to American constitutional democracy?

  15. NSS-C.9-12.5 ROLES OF THE CITIZEN
    What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?
    • What is citizenship?
    • What are the rights of citizens?
    • What are the responsibilities of citizens?
    • What civic dispositions or traits of private and public character are important to the preservation and improvement of American constitutional democracy?
    • How can citizens take part in civic life?