continuum" gives students an active way to consider and express
their opinions, listen to others' opinions, and begin discussing
by establishing some ground rules for the discussion. Ground rules
carefully to statements made by other students
okay to disagree
different corners of the room as "Strongly agree," "strongly
disagree," and "not sure, don't know or no opinion."
Then read a statement and ask each student to react to the statement
by moving to the appropriate part of the room.
with a trivial statement, such as "Chocolate is the best flavor
of ice cream." Then move on to more serious topics. Here are
some possible opinion continuum statements for high school students.
These focus on the Iraq War; they can be adapted to reflect the
issue at hand.
The U.S.occupation of Iraq will make Americans safer in the
The U.S. was wrong to wage war in Iraq because no country has
the right to decide who should be the leader of another country.
Now that U.S. troops are in Iraq, everyone should support the
U.S., no matter how they felt before the war began.
If people feel what the U.S. is doing in Iraq is wrong, they
have a responsibility to speak up about it.
representing each point of view to state several reasons why they
hold their view. Make sure to get a wide range of opinions. It is
helpful to summarize what students say to make sure all students
understand each perspective. It is also helpful to ask open, probing
questions to get more information or clarifying questions to help
students think more deeply about their own perspective. A variation
is to have each speaker summarize the opinion of the previous speaker
before expressing his/her own views.
several students with different opinions have shared their thoughts,
ask if anyone would like to change their opinion based on new information.
It is important to acknowledge the value of remaining open to new
information and being able to change one's mind when presented with
new information. This is a way that we all learn.
steps can be repeated using other statements from above, or by making
up your own statements based on what you think would make sense
for your own students. A vital part of this lesson is to provide
safety for opinions that might be unpopular within some communities.