We offer these lesson plan ideas to help teachers cover important skills across many subjects. Some of our lesson plan ideas were developed in partnership with Dr. Faith Rogow, award-winning curriculum developer (InsightersEducation.com) and co-founder of the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). Other of our lesson plans were created by third parties who are identified below on their respective plans.
Activities Based on The Night Olympic Team In this lesson plan by Caroline Hatton, students research the pros and cons of sports enhancing drugs as part of a larger lesson plan about Hatton's novel The Night Olympic Team.
Best of Enemies Film Discussion Guide Watch the documentary Best of Enemies, or excerpts from this award-winning film, and then consider and discuss important questions about political conventions, pundits, television debate, and where our nation’s political discourse may have gotten its often nasty tone. [Note: This high-resolution PDF file is over 16 MB and may take a few seconds to load. A lower-resolution PDF file (13 MB) is also available.]
Call to Action Letter Have students write a "call to action" letter about an issue that includes their positions on the issue, why individuals should act, and at least three things they should do to help the cause.
Conflict in Palestine: A Research Guide This United High School lesson plan has students summarize and evaluate arguments to then ask "relevant and informed questions" about a controversial topic related to the Palestinian conflict.
Critical Thinking Quotes Engage students in a metacognition exercise about critical thinking and also practice research and informational writing skills using ProCon.org's collection of critical thinking quotes.
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; and preparing a presentation for a school assembly.
NCTE/IRA 4, NCTE/IRA 5, NCTE/IRA 7, NCTE/IRA 12
Essay Writing Have students write essays advocating a pro or con position on an important social issue.
The Fence [HBO documentary] Greg Timmons' lesson plan on the US-Mexico border fence uses ProCon.org to discuss illegal immigration, homeland security, and constitutional authority, among other immigration issues.
Find Your Weaknesses: Debate Analysis Have student groups formulate pro or con arguments on an important issue using ProCon.org. Then have students 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.
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.
Hunting for the Main Idea(s) Use ProCon.org headline articles to help students learn how to effectively highlight their assigned readings by practicing how to distill main ideas from an informational text.
Illegal Immigration: An Economic Debate The argumentative/persuasive writing lesson plan from the Pennsylvania Department of Education uses Illegal Immigration ProCon.org and "requires students to read, analyze and comprehend written materials and then write cogent arguments, explanations or narratives."
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 with effective reasoning and evidence while anticipating criticisms of their opinions.
NCTE/IRA 4, NCTE/IRA 5, NCTE/IRA 7, NCTE/IRA 12
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.
Making Choices: An Exploration of Political Preferences Paige Lilley Schulte and Travis Miller use ProCon.org's election sites in this lesson plan to have students "analyze information, examine views that are different than their own, and make informed decisions" in a "psychologically safe environment."
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.
Pro and Con Quote Analysis & Argument Creation Assign, or have students select, one ProCon.org topic (the "dilemma") for examination. Individually or in small groups, students should then choose three pro quotes and three con quotes that represent the topic's main arguments from the ProCon.org site. For each quote, students should note the quote's source, determine two of the quote's main ideas, and rate the quote on a scale of 1 to 10 using the attached worksheet provided by W. Kip Morales, an English Teacher at Smidt Tech High School.
Once the students have analyzed the pro and con quotes from ProCon.org, each student or group should write their own opinion on the topic with evidence to support their claims, an analysis of the evidence (the "link"), a counterclaim to their argument, and, finally, a rebuttal to the counterclaim.
Mr. Morales uses this exercise with his 9th and 10th grade students, though the plan can be scaled for younger students.
Research Reading (Immigration) & Writing for Change This lesson plan from Syracuse City School District has students "leverage reading research skills to gain information -- and form an evidence-based opinion -- about a class topic," which will then be used to write persuasive essays and serve as a foundation for class debate.
RLA (Reading through Language Arts) Prompt and Success This lesson plan from Heather Herman and Lindsey Cermak of the Minnesota Literacy Council has students consider the question "What does success look like?" by identifying the best-supported argument, analyzing visual information, and completing a pre-writing assignment.
Teaching Tolerance: Controversial Issues Southern Poverty Law Center's lesson plan has students learn to debate "with grace and dignity," disagree with grace, and "make friends across ideological boundaries," by discussing a controversial topic chosen by the teacher or class.
The Technology of Voting The goal of this lesson plan from Keith Neth (Millard Public Schools) is to help students understand the variety of voting technology used in the United States in the past 200 years.
Using Tweets to Build an Online Debate As a way to assess understanding of both pro and con arguments about an issue, and also to practice clear, concise writing, have students create a fictional Twitter debate, tweeting from pro, con, and neutral perspectives.
When the Emperor Was Divine Lesson Plan This multi-part National Endowment for the Arts lesson plan uses Julie Otsuka's novel, When the Emperor Was Divine, to consider many issues including immigration and racial profiling