to Making Informed Opinions
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.
of background information on any selected topic that represents all
sides of a controversy (Gathered by Journey North and/or students.)
list specific for understanding the issue
chart paper or overhead projector with transparency for diagramming
journals for recording arguments for or against the issue at the
conclusion of the process
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.
the topic of interest
- Go over
the vocabulary specific to the issue
the background information gathered by you and/or Journey North
time to study the issue
PMI chart on blackboard with three headings: + (Plus/Pros); - (Minus/Cons);
and ? (Inquiry/Questions)
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.
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?"
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
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.