Taking a Stand Activity

Bruce E. Larson wrote an article about the “taking a stand” activity in which students learn about a controversial issue and decide which “side” they take while discussing the arguments for the purpose of understanding the issue and coming to a possible consensus.

Here are the steps:

1. Present a non-biased, brief overview of the issue.

2. Explore 2 opposing viewpoints by gathering and distributing articles for students to read.

3. Have students “take a stand” by moving to one side of the room if they are one one side of the issue, to the opposite side of the room if they oppose the first group, or to the middle of the room if they are undecided.

4. Have students discuss by having one person from one side share his or her reasoning. Then a student from the other side responds to that comment, and so forth until all ideas have been shared.

5. Then have students respond, perhaps in an essay, describing both sides, why they took the side they did, and what might be done to solve the issue.

It would be useful to discuss expectations for this activity. It’s not meant to be a debate but more of a dialogue. Students should also be careful to disagree or criticize an idea rather than the person saying it.

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