March's Protocol: Easy Group Activity to get Students Reading, Thinking, Talking, and Writing.
This month's protocol provides students the means to look at an issue from both sides and objectively make conclusions. As they advance in grade level, they should also mature in thinking and be willing to see other's points of view or that their conclusions may need revision. This protocol should always start with a reminder to students that differing opinions do not necessarily mean "right/wrong or good/bad." Let me know how it goes.
PRO AND CON GRID ASSIGNMENT (Collaboration, Discussion, Reading, Writing)
Description: This collaboration strategy allows students to go beyond superficial talking points by thoroughly reviewing an issue, creating a list of pros and cons and making decisions based on the analysis of the information.
Application: This method can be used in any subject when evaluating, for example, the pros and cons of a process or procedure, a technique, a conclusion, decisions or actions of a fictional character, a dilemma, a judgment, or a political decision. It can be used as the basis for a debate format or side notes when presenting direct instruction.
Process: Find an issue that has clearly defined competing points of view. On class day, divide students into groups of four and within the groups of four, split into teams of two, labeling one team “Pro” and the other “Con.” Based on the topic, specify the minimum number of pros and cons each group must develop. Allow time for research but be ready to continue when students are finished. Allow time for teams to regroup and discuss findings. Elicit responses and record pros and cons by creating a T-chart labeled “Pro” and “Con” on the whiteboard OR create a Google Doc and ask students to complete it in real time. When finished, return to whole group format, combine similar answers and denote the frequency of repetitive thoughts and use this as a springboard for students to make conclusions on the matter. To extend the activity, assign individuals a writing assignment based on the experience. Questions to include What was your position on the issue before the research, did that change? What were your group’s most compelling arguments on both sides? What did your group eventually conclude about the issue?
Resources and for more information:
Nine Alternatives to Lecturing. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.
Pro and Con Grid Online https://kb.wisc.edu/instructional-resources/page.php?id=104408
Alison Thetford, M.Ed