Choose a Side

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In this on-demand presentational speaking activity, students are given a prompt and asked to take a side. Prompts might be two-sided, as in ‘Should cellphones be banned in schools?’ or open-ended, as in ‘What would make the best birthday gift?’. Two students each present their positions on the topic/issue, then the rest of the class responds individually to indicate which student they agree with and why.

Instructions

  1. The teacher divides the class into pairs. Each pair of students is assigned an issue and instructed to take a stance. If it is a two-sided issue, partner A in each pair should argue for the issue, partner B should argue against.

  2. Students have 30-60 seconds to prepare and practice their presentations.

  3. The teacher calls on a randomly-selected pair of students to present their respective sides of the issue to the class.

  4. After hearing both sides, the remainder of the class decides whether they agree with the first student, the second student, or (optionally) neither. They immediately record a response to state and support their choice. This can be done using their phones, tablets, or computers, using tools like Flipgrid, Formative, etc.

  5. The teacher may choose to select one or more non-volunteers to share their choice of sides. The teacher may also choose to have the class show by raising their hands or standing up which side they chose.

  6. The teacher calls on the next pair of students and steps 3-5 are repeated until each pair has presented their issue.

Adaptation for Online/Distance Learning

  1. Each pair of students is assigned a Google Slide (or Jamboard, etc.) where they can add an image or chunks of text to support their presentations. Students are put into breakout rooms and given 30-60 seconds to prepare and practice their presentations.

  2. The teacher calls on a randomly-selected pair of students to present their respective sides of the issue to the class. The teacher shares their screen, displaying the slide that corresponds to the group selected.

  3. After hearing both sides, the remainder of the class decides whether they agree with the first student, the second student, or (optionally) neither. They immediately record a response to state and support their choice. This can be done using tools like Flipgrid, Formative, etc. 5. The teacher may choose to select one or more non-volunteers to share their choice of sides.

  4. The teacher calls on the next pair of students and steps 3-5 are repeated until each pair has presented their issue.

Helpful Tips

  1. You can give each pair of students the same topic, unique topics/issues, or different topics within one issue (e.g. within the topic of ‘buying gifts for someone’, group 1 has ‘gift for a friend’ group 2 has ‘gift for a teacher’ etc.).

  2. This activity can be done in a Gallery Walk format instead of entirely with the whole class.

Materials

  1. Prompt slides (see samples below)

  2. Tech tool for students to individually record their responses

Sample Materials

Click a thumbnail to see a larger version.


Attribution

Contributed by Matt Coss