Lesson Plan

Should Cell Phones be Allowed in School?

A persuasive argument
Brad B.
Technology coordinator
Oswego County Boces
Mexico, NY
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My Grades 5, 6, 7, 8
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Languages, English Language Learning
EdTech Mentor

Students will be able to... create a persuasive argument by convincing the listener/viewer to adopt their position on cell phone use in school.

Recommended time for this lesson is 5 class periods at approximately 40 minutes each.


RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.
RI.5.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
RI.5.9 Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
RI.6: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
RI.6.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.


SL.5: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
SL.5.4 Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.
SL.6: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
SL.6.4 Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.


W.5: Text Types and Purposes
W.5.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
W.5.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
W.6: Text Types and Purposes
W.6.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
W.6.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

English Language Arts
Grades 5 - 6
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook - What is your stance? (Session 1)

1. Prior to showing video, teacher asks the following questions, listens to feedback (approximately 2 minutes)

"How many of you have a cell phone?"

"What do you use it for?"

"What could it be used for in school?"

2. Show the NBC Today video clip on cellphones in school (about 1 minute, 34 seconds)

Student Instructions

Watch NBC Today video clip on cellphones in school.

2 Direct Instruction - Defining rhetorical devices (Session 1)

Direct instruction: Explain to students that in order to persuade a person to agree with you on an issue, your presentation must include three key elements (rhetorical devices): Ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Defining Ethos, Pathos, Logos (approximately 15 minutes):

1a: You may choose to read together and discuss the article (below) which describes Ethos (credibility), Pathos (emotion), Logos (logic):

http://kidcourses.com/aristotle-rhetoric/ (an excellent article describing these devices in kid friendly terms)

1b: You may instead decide to watch a short video which defines Ethos, Pathos, Logos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKtQEnERhSY (from Texas A&M, excellent - with commercial examples outlining each device, 3 minutes 34 seconds)

Experiencing Ethos, Pathos, Logos (approximately 20 minutes)

2. ETHOS PATHOS LOGOS PLAYLIST (13 short commercials)


This video playlist has 13 videos that each illustrate one or more rhetorical device. The individual videos are short commercials. Pause after each video to discuss the  ethos, pathos, and/or logos within each commercial.

Note: I would suggest watching the first 6 videos. You may watch more (or less) depending on your progress as a class.

Student Instructions

1. Learn the definition of Ethos (credibility), Pathos (emotion), Logos (logic) by watching video or shared reading of article.

2. Experience and discuss Ethos, Pathos, Logos by watching playlist and discussing rhetorical devices within each commercial.

3 Guided Practice - Sharing Views (Session 2)

Free, Paid

Note: Prior to this session, create a free Padlet account at www.padlet.com

Review definition and share views (approximately 20 minutes)

Briefly review definitions for Ethos (credibility), Pathos (emotion), Logos (logic), then 

1. Open a Padlet wall and post the following question: "Should cellphones be allowed in school? Answer yes/no/maybe and include a brief explanation."

2. Direct students to your Padlet link in order for them to respond.

3. Discuss each response and categorize as Ethos, Pathos or Logos

* Note: The majority of students may align themselves with the "pro-cellphone" stance. In this event, you may decide beforehand to break up your student population into two equal groups: "pro" and  "anti-cellphone"

Student Instructions

1. Student opens a web browser, then types in the Padlet URL or clicks on the direct link (teacher provided).

2. Student clicks on the Padlet wall to create a note.

3. Student responds to the teacher's question on the Padlet note.

4. Students discuss each response and categorize.

4 Guided Practice - Researching Information (Session 2)

Direct link to my LiveBinder: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1925016

Finding evidence to support your view (approximately 20 minutes)

1. Teacher may choose to group students in pairs or allow them to group themselves. Students will be grouped according to similar opinion based on Padlet response.

2. Direct students to read at least two of the following provided articles. The articles that they read should support their opinion based on the Padlet activity.

* Note: this LiveBinder was created by me and is public. It includes two tabs; pro cell phone in class and ban cell phone in class. Each tab has several articles for students to read to support their stance.

Student Instructions

1. Share LiveBinder URL with students: http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=1925016

2. Student clicks on a link corresponding to article supporting their stance on cellphone use in school.

3. Each student in a group of two will have read one unique article that supports their collective stance on cellphone use in school.

5 Independent Practice - Sharing Findings (Session 3)

Google Drive
Free, Paid
Free, Paid

Sharing findings (approximately 40 minutes)

Summarizing Template: https://drive.google.com/previewtemplate?id=1k-KbzPim5VkLzXiTublT_4BOLId...

This template is a Cornell Notes template, but you may use any template that you find appropriate for summarizing. Depending on your class, you may not even need a template.

1. After student has read an article, have them create a collaborative document in Google Drive ore OneDrive. You may create a template with view only rights and share with your students and instruct them to "make a copy" so that they can edit and collaborate on their own version of the template.

2. Both students will provide a summary of their article on the collaborative document so that they can gain insight on what their partner read.

3. Provide feedback as students are summarizing. Make sure that students are only including key points and takeaways from their article.

Note: You may want to give students a "word limit" to emphasis that they are intended to summarize. This will help students to provide the most important information from the article. You may also want to suggest having a certain amount of "key points" to persuade their stance on cell phones.

Student Instructions

1. Type a summary of your article in the collaborative document. 

2. In a summary, make sure that you are including key points from the article that will support your stance on cell phones in school.

3. Discuss your article's key points with your partner. Do you have some of the same key points? Ask your partner if you think there is enough information to convince someone to adopt your stance on cell phones in school. If more key points are needed, explore another article in the LiveBinder (teacher may suggest a certain minimum number of key points).

6 Wrap-up - Putting it all together - Creating and Presenting Arguments (Session 4-5)

Free, Paid

Creating and presenting your argument (approximately 80 minutes)

1. Create a free Powtoon account at http://www.powtoon.com/account/signup/ (or simply connect with your Google account).

2. Model Powtoon basic creation steps for students.

3. Model an example of Powtoon creation using a student's (or your own) key points regarding cell phone use in school. The idea is to tell a compelling, persuasive story using visuals (animation, symbols, etc) to engage your audience and convince them that they should adopt your stance on cell phones in schools. Be explicit when describing the purpose of the Powtoon so that students understand the goal.

Note: Build time for students to share/present the finished Powtoon; this could occur within class, to an outside group, or even via a link to a larger community audience or beyond the walls of your school (Twitter)Depending on your students' progress, this sharing session may occur during an additional session.

Student Instructions

1. Log-in to your Powtoon account.

2. With your partner, decide upon a driver and a navigator. The driver will be typing and controlling the mouse. The navigator will be beside the driver, helping to make decisions on text, design, animation, etc. The navigator provides much of the direction, but does not touch the mouse or keyboard.

3. Your goal is to take all of your key points and create a  Powtoon that tells a compelling, persuasive story using visuals (animation, symbols, etc) to engage your audience and convince them that they should adopt your stance on cell phones in schools.