Using Tweets to Build an Online Debate - Lesson Plan Idea



Overview

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


The Activity

Have students carefully study a ProCon.org topic – either of their own choosing or a curriculum-related topic that you have selected. Using the ProCon.org "Tweet Template” as their guide, have students write a Twitter "conversation” about the topics they researched. Their job is to mimic a debate that might happen on Twitter about a controversial issue.

To begin, students create three Twitter handles: one pro, one con, and one neutral. The handles should make clear the perspective of each voice. Using these handles, students will craft a conversation of at least 10 tweets where the pro and con handles debate each other directly, with the neutral handle stepping in to clarify or ask questions. Each tweet should address at least one of the arguments from the ProCon.org site and use the evidence provided there. Per the conventions of Twitter, each tweet should limit itself to 280 characters and be as creative as possible.

Students can be given the option of recruiting classmates to read their conversations aloud for the class or using a class Twitter account to share their best tweets. Use the tweets to determine how well students understand the text they read.

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ProCon.org Topics: Any. See full list of controversial issues.

Subjects: English / ELA / Language Arts, Writing / Composition, Social Studies, Communication

Common Core Anchor Standards: CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.6, CCRA.R.7, CCRA.R.8, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.1, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.6

Common Core Content Standards: WHST.9, WHST.4, WHST.1, RST.2, RST.7, L.6, W.7, W.2, W.1, RI.2


Adaptations

Make the lesson easier (click to expand)

  • Pre-select 4-5 pros and cons that will easily translate into a Twitter format. Have all students read only those you’ve selected before beginning.

  • Have students write the tweets as stand-alone statements, removing the requirement for direct engagement between the handles.

Make the lesson harder (click to expand)

  • Add an extra handle on either the pro or con side that introduces a DIFFERENT reason for their position than the original handle. Bring the total number of tweets to 13.

  • Require that each tweet include at least one hashtag that would attract other Twitter users who shared their opinion or viewpoint.



Related Links

  1. Lesson Plan Ideas with Common Core Correlations

  2. ProCon.org Teachers' Corner