Use the ProCon.org homepage to help students build research skills such as skimming and summarizing.
To work on research speed, direct all students to the ProCon.org homepage. Tell them they will write a one paragraph position statement that answers any of the main questions on the websites for the controversial listed on the home page. This paragraph must take a clear stand (no 'on the one hand…') and should include as many distinct arguments in support of their position as possible. They will have only 20 minutes to both research and write the paragraph, so skimming and summarizing is a must. After the paragraphs have been produced, give students a short explanation of how to count the distinct arguments using an example from the class. Then instruct students to give their paragraphs to another student for scoring (you may need to assure them that you will double check these scores before the winner is announced). Finish with an unofficial poll to determine the class average for number of arguments.