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Resources for Taking Classroom Discussions to a New (Improved) Level
posted by: Melissa | April 29, 2021, 04:24 PM   

This week, the President of the United States gave his annual address to a joint session of Congress and to the public. It’s sure to be controversial. These speeches, whether given by Democrat or Republican, regardless of its actual contents, are always controversial.

The reaction to every presidential speech is as predictable as the sun rising. The President’s party, the party in opposition, pundits, analysts, and commentators will dissect and spin every issue and policy put forward. The next day, we, as educators, must step into the classroom with students who are firmly entrenched on either side and must try to help them see the truth or to listen to each other speak. The task can be difficult and daunting.

This is where AllSides for Schools comes in. AllSides is a non-profit organization with a mission to help bridge divides across the aisle. Their education arm has valuable tools and resources for any educator trying to teach political, controversial, or otherwise divisive issues.

Their Balanced News Feed has multiple news stories about current events. Not only do they present multiple stories from multiple viewpoints, allowing students to get a range of opinions, but they also clearly label each story’s bias, so that you, as an educator, can compare how different political viewpoints are emphasizing different parts of the news.

Once students are aware of the bias around them, it might be a good time to have them examine their own bias. AllSides has lesson plans and resources to help you walk students through the process of examining how their own bias is coloring their worldview.

With students who are both educated on the issues and knowledgeable about bias, it’s a good time to host class discussions about the issues. This is where AllSides really shine. Their Relationships First classroom lesson helps anchor students in how to hold a discussion as opposed to an argument. AllSides then goes on to provide educators with discussion guides on relevant topics for the classroom.

All of these resources are needed for the environment we find ourselves in today and are just the beginning of what AllSides has to offer. If you’re interested in learning more about AllSides, I invite you to join us next week, May 5th, as we host AllSides for a webinar where they talk about their resources and how to use them in the classroom.

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