Exposing All Sides
Guide to Making Informed Opinions
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Where do you stand on an issue? How do you come to make your stand and form an opinion on any particular topic of controversy? This activity provides opportunities for paraphrasing, making inferences, and building opinions using a cognitive organizer called a PMI. Use it for a guide to take you through a process for making an educated stand on any issue/debate of current interest and study.

Materials:

  1. Copies of background information on any selected topic that represents all sides of a controversy (Gathered by Journey North and/or students.)
  2. Vocabulary list specific for understanding the issue
  3. Blackboard, chart paper or overhead projector with transparency for diagramming the process
  4. Individual journals for recording arguments for or against the issue at the conclusion of the process

Activity:

  1. Briefly begin by discussing the ways we make decisions about issues and topics. For example, imagine that the Legislature has just proposed a bill that all new cars manufactured must be yellow. How do students feel about this? Together, make a list of the pros and cons. Do students have any questions? List these, too.
  2. Introduce the topic of interest
  3. Go over the vocabulary specific to the issue
  4. Distribute the background information gathered by you and/or Journey North
  5. Provide time to study the issue
  6. P/+

    M/-

    I/?

         
         
         
    Make a PMI chart on blackboard with three headings: + (Plus/Pros); - (Minus/Cons); and ? (Inquiry/Questions)
  7. Starting with one individual and proceeding in order around the room, begin to fill in the chart. Ask the first student: "What is a positive thing?" Record the answer on the chart and go to the second student and ask: "What is a negative thing?" Record the answer and ask the third student: "What question do you have?" Continue this sequence of questions around the room, giving each student a chance to answer the questions until the responses are exhausted. During this process, encourage paraphrasing and making inferences from materials read.
  8. Take time to discuss the completed chart as well as any other ideas that could be added. Have all sides of the issue been represented? Ask: "Do we have enough information for understanding the topic?"
  9. Provide time for independent journalling. Ask: "Where do you stand on the subject now? Complete this thought: In my opinion ______________ because ____________." Also consider: "Is there any action that could come as a result of my stand on this issue? What could I do?"

Extensions:
Choose some related activities:

  • Collect: Make a bulletin board and bring in current articles on the topic.
  • Teach: Develop and teach a lesson about the topic using visual aides.
  • Graph: Find some part of the topic that could be made more clear by graphing.
  • Survey: Find out where others stand on the issue.
  • Write: Send a letter stating your opinion to an influential party.




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