Review by Jennifer Sitkin, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2015

ProCon.org

Comprehensive, nonpartisan resource navigates controversial issues

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
  • Social Studies
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (4 Reviews)

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Pros: Free educational resource provides non-biased information on controversial issues; promotes critical thinking and civic engagement.

Cons: Some of the more complex, reading-intensive content may need to be modified for less fluent readers.

Bottom Line: The balanced pro/con format makes this a go-to source for online research on controversial issues.

Teachers should familiarize themselves with the site and spend time in the Teacher’s Corner to explore the many suggestions from other educators. Lessons aligned to the CCSS include role-play debates, political letter-writing, online discussions, and exercises for distinguishing fact from opinion. It would be beneficial to provide students with an overview of how ProCon.org presents information and all the resources it has available. Depending on the course and the grade level, teachers may want to design an assignment on a particular issue or allow students to research an issue of their choice. For example: In a government class, students can conduct research on the death penalty for a debate; in a public speaking class, students could select an issue and write a persuasive speech.

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ProCon.org is a nonpartisan website that provides users with unbiased information about controversial issues. Its primary goal is to promote critical thinking and educate citizens so they can make informed decisions about important issues. All of the content is freely available and meticulously sourced and cited, and each issue is presented in a pro/con format. The site has comprehensive information on 52 different issues covering politics, education, elections, religion, media, and much more. For each issue, users will find a question, background information, pro and con arguments, top pro and con quotes, a video gallery, and user comments. In addition to the extensive content, there is a Teacher’s Corner that includes Common Core-aligned lesson plans and other suggestions for how to use the site to teach standards and develop critical-thinking skills. 

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ProCon.org is a valuable resource for teachers to help students become informed about controversial issues. The content is accessible to learners of all abilities, and it's presented in a balanced and easy-to-understand structure. All of the written content, videos, and images encourage users to think about important social, political, and economic issues and form their own opinions. Teachers can use the site to help students prepare for debates, write research papers, and gain a greater understanding of differing perspectives. There are regular updates with new content and headlines related to the issues covered on the site. With so much misleading, biased, and inaccurate information in the news, ProCon.org is a welcome gold mine of objective content that promotes independence and critical thinking.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

High-interest topics are presented with a balanced point of view. Students will find the site useful to prepare for debates, write research papers, and increase their overall knowledge of current issues.    

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Exploring a wide range of controversial topics without bias allows students to form their own opinions and become informed about civic issues. The videos, charts, articles, and quotes increase accessibility for all learners.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The site is well designed and easy to navigate. The Teacher’s Corner includes valuable suggestions for how to use the site in the classroom. The FAQ page covers just about any question you might have about how to use the site. 


Common Sense Reviewer
Jennifer Sitkin Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 4 reviews) (4 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Adam C. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Help students navigate controversial topics and help yourself during awkward teachable moments.

ProCon can serve several purposes in the classroom. For myself, it has become a go-to resource when controversial topics pop up. I prefer to avoid situations where I might express my own opinions in the classroom (even when I'm right) and ProCon.org lets me give my students both sides. It has really helped to shut down outrageous arguments from students when things like welfare or gun control come up. More importantly, it encourages proper and healthy debate. ProCon makes it very difficult for students to throw a debate off the rails with wild manipulation of facts (or the absence of facts) and focuses the class on the true issues.
All in all, ProCon.org is a great tool for research and argumentation, but it is also a wonderful resource for teachable moments.

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