Lesson Plan

Controversial Issues Panel Discussion

Students will summarize articles about current controversial issues,then engage in panel discussions.
Rebecca H.
Classroom teacher
Frostburg State University
Frostburg , MD
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts
Objectives

Students will be able to analyze articles centered around current controversial issues. Students will engage in panel discussions centered around current controversial issues.

steps:

Hook

Direct Instruction

Guided Practice

Independent Practice

Wrap-Up

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Introduction for students:   Our world is full of controversial issues. Some people feel strongly about these issues; then they can spill over into our everyday lives.  You are going to explore several different issues, then choose which topic you are most interested in.   We are going to hold panel discussions about these current controversial issues.  After you explore the articles, you’ll choose your top 2 favorite topics.

Topic + Brief Explanation                                                       Article Link

Kaepernick/Kneeling - President Donald Trump made comments in a speech and on Twitter against football players who protest during the national anthem. Some National Football League (NFL) players have been kneeling or sitting during the national anthem. Why is this such a big deal?

Animal Testing - An estimated 26 million animals are experimented on each year in the United States. Animals are used to develop medical treatments and medicines. They are also used to check the safety of commercial products, such as cosmetics and shampoos. Should we be using animals to test human products?

Global Warming - Studies show that Earth's climate has been getting warmer. Its average temperature has risen a little more than 1 degree Fahrenheit during the past 100 years or so. This amount may not seem like much. But small temperature changes can lead to big effects.  Will this affect your future?

Gun Control - Every mass shooting in the United States starts a new debate over the right to own guns. Americans own more guns than anybody else on Earth. Firearms are involved in the deaths of more than 30,000 people in the U.S. each year.   What can be done to help prevent more deaths?

Social Networking - More and more people are using social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. On social media, people can communicate with friends and strangers, do research, and share thoughts, photos, links, music and information about themselves.  Is this good or bad for society?

Confederate Monuments - New Orleans still has four statues that honor the Confederacy. Last month, the city finally began to remove these statues. It wasn't easy to get rid of them. It took two years, a city government vote and fights through lawsuits. What are your thoughts on this issue?

Artificial Intelligence - Without the mess of cables at the back of her head, you might think she was human.The humanoid robot was created by Hanson Robotics and is the main attraction at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland, this week on how artificial intelligence, or AI, can be used to help mankind. Can robots really help humans?

Racism in Advertising - Dove is hardly the first brand to land in hot water for a controversial ad.  Other big-name products have also faced criticism for racism in ads.  What do you think?  (Choose one of the three articles: Combination of Pepsi and Dove, Dove, Pepsi)

Here are my top 2 choices for discussion and debate

1.

2.

Subjects
English Language Arts
Grades 7 - 8
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook/Attention Getter -- on a board/big screen, show students the following current issues:

Hook/Attention Getter:

on the screen, display the following current controversial issues

     Kapernick/Kneeling

     Animal Testing

     Global Warming

     Gun Control

     Social Networking: Good or bad for society?

    Confederate Monuments

   Artificial Intelligence
   Racism in Advertising

 

Student Instructions

Students will review list - engage in quick discussions about each topic (about 2-4 minutes, depending on time restrictions in class)

 

 

2 Direct Instruction

Student Instructions

Students will review each Newsela article so that they can make an informed decision about which topic they would like to discuss in a panel forum/press conference style

Once students have chosen two topics, teacher will group students by topic choice so that there are 3-4 students per group based on topic.

**Students can make topic choice via Google form or padlet. 

3 Guided Practice

Show students how to summarize article that is linked to each current controversial issue.  Once they are in groups, students will divide article into sections, then decide who is responsible for summarizing and responding to which section of the article.

Their work will look like this:

My section of the article (section 1,2,3,4)

Summary of my section

My opinion of the issue

Counter argument to my opinion

Response to counter argument

Student Instructions

In groups, students will divide article into sections, then will decide who is responsible for summarizing and responding to which section.
 

4 Independent Practice

Teacher will monitor student groups, making sure that students are able to write, then articulate the summary, opinion, counter-argument, and response to counter-argument.:
Students work to following these guidlines:

My section of the article (section 1,2,3,4)

Summary of my section

My opinion of the issue

Counter argument to my opinion

Response to counter argument

Student Instructions

Once groups of students have divided article into sections, they will summarizing and respond to the article.

They will be sure that their work will look like this:

My section of the article (section 1,2,3,4)

Summary of my section

My opinion of the issue

Counter argument to my opinion

Response to counter argument

5 Independent Practice - part 2

Explain to students that once they have analyzed their article and formed an opinion of the issue, discussed arguments and counter-arguments in their groups:

they will then engage in "Panel Discussions."

**Panel Discussions will be set up like a press conference, where the group is sitting at a table facing the audience. The group will summarize the article for their current issue, explain their opinions of the issue, elaborate on what the conter-arguments could be, then open up the floor for the audience to engage in questions.

To help students relate to a real-world panel discussion, I provided water for them, and a backdrop with the current controversial issue on the screen behind the group.  I also provided question starters for the audience so that the audience asked questions and responded to the panel in a professional manner.

Student Instructions

Explain to students that once they have analyzed their article and formed an opinion of the issue, discussed arguments and counter-arguments in their groups:

they will then engage in "Panel Discussions."

**Panel Discussions will be set up like a press conference, where the student group is sitting at a table facing the audience. The group will summarize the article for their current issue, explain their opinions of the issue, elaborate on what the coutner-arguments could be, then open up the floor for the audience to engage in questions.

Each panel discussion group will respond to questions from the audience by choosing who is asking questions in the audience and deciding ahead of time who in the group will respond to the questions.

6 Wrap Up

Activity: Conversing

Once all panel discussions have been completed by group, students will reflect on panel discussions. 

*Do they better understand the current controversial issue?

*Did the discussions change any of their opinions regarding the current controversial issues?

*Did they feel they benefited from discussion dialogue with their peers?

FYI: we graded with a rubric that involved both responsibilities in the group, articulating opinions about group's issue, responding to audience questions, and audience behavior.

Student Instructions

Once all panel discussions have been completed by group, students to reflect on panel discussions. 

*Do they better understand the current controversial issue?

*Did the discussions change any of their opinions regarding the current controversial issues?

*Did they feel they benefited from discussion dialogue with their peers?

FYI: we graded with a rubric that involved both responsibilities in the group, articulating opinions about group's issue, responding to audience questions, and audience behavior.