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.
Use the Background of the Issue page to get students thinking about the history and implications of the selected topic. Ask students to brainstorm their general impressions of their topic in a concept map and draft their perspective about the topic. For example, a student analyzing the issue of immigration may write down reasons why they support or oppose stricter border control policies.
Be sure to remind students that there is no single correct answer, it’s fine and even encouraged to go back and revise their initial perspective as they learn more about the issue at hand.
Next, ask students to imagine they are researching a specific aspect of the topic. For example, after getting familiar with the issue of gun control regulations, students may be interested in the role of the Second Amendment in regulation or the impact of regulation on crime rates. Students should then be able to add to the concept map any additional questions they would need to answer before making a decision about their topic.
TIP: Use Part 1 of this activity to introduce students to an upcoming research assignment. If preparing for a research project, the concept mapping practice will help students narrow in on their upcoming research focus. This an optional application and this lesson plan can also be used as a standalone assignment, but works nicely to scaffold a larger research project.
Using inquiry means asking questions, adapting your initial viewpoint, and staying open to new discoveries. Be sure to encourage students to keep an open mind as they encounter points of view that may differ from their own.
Ask students to read through the Pro and Con arguments of their topic and select two arguments (one Pro, one Con) to explore in-depth. Students should be able to discuss how the authors informed their understanding of the topic, the types of evidence used in each statement, and any new questions they may have.
Ask students to reflect on Parts 1 and 2 using the following prompts:
How did your initial perspective evolve as you gathered more evidence about the topic?
How did you react to perspectives that challenged your own?
Why is it important to keep an open mind and ask questions when engaging with others about important issues?
How can drawing on different perspectives strengthen your own argument?
ProCon.org Topic: Can be adapted to any ProCon.org topic.
Subjects: Social Studies, Public Policy, Civics, Communication, Composition