Lesson Plans

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.

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2020 Election & Beyond
Explore elections plans geared toward the 2020 presidential election but adaptable for many other elections and presidential history lessons.
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.

Grades: 5-12 More>>
Addressing the Counterarguments
Use ProCon.org to help students strengthen their persuasive writing by identifying and responding to counterarguments.

Grades: 8-10 More>>
BallotReady Curriculum: Understanding the Issues
This lesson plan from BallotReady will help students learn to "describe at least three public policy issues and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches to public policy issues."

Grades: 8-12 More>>
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.]

Grades: 11-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 6-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 9-12 More>>
Critical Thinking and Promoting Civil Discourse
Engage students in discussing the role of critical thinking in promoting civil discourse with this ProCon.org slideshow.

Grades: 6-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 9-12 More>>
Critical Thinking Seminar
Engage students in the critical thinking seminar ProCon.org facilitates each year with the Junior State of America (JSA).

Grades: 5-12 More>>
Distinguishing Fact from Opinion
Use the point-by-point arguments on ProCon.org to help students develop higher order thinking skills by learning to distinguish fact from opinion.

Grades: 6-9 More>>
Drug Ads over Time: Analyzing Historical Images
Use ProCon.org's Gallery of Drug Ads to give students an opportunity to practice ad analysis and recognize how methods and messages have changed over time.

Grades: 5-10 More>>
Dying to Be a Martyr
This lesson plan by Heather Auletta uses Israeli-Palestinian Conflict ProCon.org to examine population changes in Palestine as part of a larger lesson plan on the conflict.

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.

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

Evaluating Resources - Credo Lesson Plan
In this activity, students will become familiar with strategies they can use in their academic and personal lives by practicing evaluating sources for authority, accuracy, currency, relevance, and objectivity.

Grades: 5-12 More>>
Exploring Controversial Issues in Literature
To introduce a novel, use ProCon.org to help students build background knowledge and examine the novel’s controversial issue(s).

Grades: 5-10 More>>
Extemporaneous Speech
Have students give speeches espousing either a pro or con position on an important social issue. Students should have minutes to prepare.

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.

Giving a Floor Speech
Students will use a ProCon.org topic of their choice to prep for a mock speech to Congress.

Grades: 5-10 More>>
The Great Debaters Film Discussion Guide
The 2007 film shows viewers the triumphant rise of the 1935 Wiley College debate team from little-known team to national champion with a victory over the Harvard University debate team. Based on a true story, the film offers glimpses into the Jim Crow South and the Great Depression, while telling an intimate story of how a team of black college students overcame their own fears, as well as societal racism, violence, and oppression, to use their words to defeat a formidable opponent. ProCon.org partnered with the Reagan Library for a panel discussion featuring the film's writer, Bob Eisele, and two of the film's stars, Denzel Whitaker and Jermaine Williams.

Grades: 6-10 More>>
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.

How to Discuss Controversial Issues in Class: Reflective Structured Dialogue
Use ProCon.org and reflective structured dialogue to explore controversial topics that may make participants feel defensive initially in a constructive discussion format that promotes listening, speaking respectfully, and appreciating other viewpoints.

Grades: 6-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 7-10 More>>
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."

Grades: 11-12 More>>
Implicit vs. Explicit Statements
Use the Background section from a ProCon.org issue to practice identifying main ideas in informational text, and distinguish between explicit and implicit statements.

Grades: 5-10 More>>
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.

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.

Inquiry - Credo Lesson Plan
In this activity, students will learn how to develop an inquiry-based mindset in their academic, personal, and professional lives. Students will use ProCon topic pages to engage with multiple perspectives, address assumptions, ask questions, and dig deeper in order to make evidence-based decisions.

Grades: 5-12 More>>
Judging the Arguments in a Debate
Use a ProCon.org micro site to help students evaluate debate claims and examine their own reasoning.

Grades: 7-10 More>>
Linking Thesis Statements to Supporting Evidence
Use thesis statements from ProCon.org to help students get a better feel for what a thesis statement is and how it relates to the paragraph that follows it.

Grades: 6-10 More>>
Main Ideas of Visual Resources
Use charts and graphs on ProCon.org to engage students in a visual literacy exercise.

Grades: 6-8 More>>
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."

Grade: 7 More>>
Medical Marijuana: Yay or Nay? Three-Part Persuasive Essay
Carol Woodruff guides students through writing a three-part persuasive essay on the pros and cons of medical marijuana.

Grade: College More>>
The Neighbor Within--What Should We Do about America's Illegal/Undocumented Immigrants?
This University of Southern California Levan Institute Ethics Resource Center lesson plan focuses on understanding the broad issue of illegal immigration.

Grade: College More>>
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.

Philosophical Chairs
Philosophical chairs in its simplest form is a pro/con debate in which students select a side and physically move to the space in the classroom that has been designated pro or con. Students debate from those physical positions while being given the flexibility to change sides (physically and argumentatively) and adapt arguments during the philosophical chairs debate. The format provides room for more open-mindedness and consideration of the other side than a fixed-side debate.

Grades: 6 and up More>>
Precedent, Privacy, Science, and Religion: The Complex Challenges of Making Laws about Abortion
This PBS lesson plan uses film clips from After Tiller as well as other texts including ProCon.org to encourage students to "examine the complex rationales for U.S. laws governing abortion."

Grades: 11-College More>>
Preparing for a Pro/Con Debate - Credo Lesson Plan
This activity will introduce students to techniques to research and prepare effective statements for a pro/con debate.

Grades: 5-12 More>>
Primary Source Analysis
Use one of the primary sources available at ProCon.org to help students practice their analysis of higher level primary sources.

Grades: 8-12 More>>
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.

Project Citizen: Transforming Research into Action
Use ProCon.org as a research platform to kick off a long-term class project on an issue relevant to the community.

Grades: 6-12 More>>
Reagan's Presidency
For a unit on the 1980s, the electoral process, or the presidency, use ProCon.org's resources on President Ronald Reagan.

Grades: 5-10 More>>
Recognizing Cause and Effect
Use ProCon.org videos to practice listening skills, note-taking, and identifying links between cause and effect(s) in persuasive speech.

Grades: 6-8 More>>
Rehearsed Speech
Have students give a speech advocating a pro or con position on an important social issue. Students should have days to prepare.

Research-Based Persuasive Partner Essay
This lesson plan from Sophia Morris uses ProCon.org as a required source for students to write persuasive position papers with a partner.

Grade: 10 More>>
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.

Grade: 4 More>>
Research Speed Skill Builder
Use the ProCon.org homepage to help students build research skills such as skimming and summarizing.

Grades: 9-12 More>>
Rhetorical Analysis
Students analyze a ProCon.org micro site, looking specifically for the use of rhetorical devices.

Grades: 9-12 More>>
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.

Sin Pais Lesson Plan: US Immigration Policy Analysis
PBS' lesson plan asks students to "explore how United States immigration policy affects families with mixed citizenship status" using the PBS documentary Sin Pais (Without Country).

Grades: 6-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 6-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 9-12 More>>
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.

Grades: 8-12 More>>
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

Writing for a Target Audience
Students take on the role of politician to identify stakeholders on a controversial policy issue and craft a series of statements that address each group.

Grades: 9-12 More>>