Something I really want to do better in my classroom is having respectful, thoughtful and passionate discussions about many varied topics. One way I want to do this is by having a Statement of the Week.
So each week you introduce a statement such as ‘Zoos are awesome’ or ‘Students should have to wear uniforms’ and based on the statement, your student have to go to one of the 4 corners. Each corner will be labeled with a piece of paper that says Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, or Strongly Disagree. In their corners they will discuss with the other students in that corner why they feel that way about the topic. They will go back to their desks and circle their point of view and write why they feel that way.
Then for the week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday you read articles based on the statement with differing points of views. Each day your students will write down the name of the article and the key ideas in that article.
Friday, the students need to evaluate their initial viewpoint and then analyze their key learnings from each article. Then they need to choose a final viewpoint and defend why they are keeping the same point of view or why they changed it. Then they will have a discussion where they try to convince the other corners that their corners are right. Then they will have to fill in the sheet on their final verdict.
I have added a option of a pro and con list on the back so that if the students are stuck on their options, they can use that to decide which point of view is correct.
Click on either picture or here to get your own copy of the Statement of the week.
To find the best articles, use Newsela. Newsela is a site that has tons of articles on different subjects and can be sorted by age range and language. You can find an article about your statement and then choose Lexile levels to suit your students reading levels. This way you can differentiate easily but all your students will still be able to participate on the same statement.