School Site Council Topics For Persuasive Essays

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Lesson Plan

Persuading the Principal: Writing Persuasive Letters About School Issues

 

Grades6 – 8
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeSeven 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author
Publisher

 

Preview

OVERVIEW

This lesson gives students the opportunity to examine opinion editorials and write their own on school issues. After reading and listening to opinion pieces, students identify strong examples of persuasion and record them on a graphic organizer. Small groups then brainstorm issues in the school that they believe deserve action plans. Each group uses graphic organizers to explore its issue. The group then constructs a letter on that issue. The letter is then edited for grammar and content, typed on a word processor, printed, and delivered to the school principal.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

  • Persuasion Map: This tool helps students break down their argument into reasons and supporting details, which will help them write their letter.

  • Letter Generator: Students can use this tool to identify the different parts of a letter, and use the sample provided as a model for writing their own letters.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

Singer, J. & Shagoury, R. (2005). Stirring up justice: Adolescents reading, writing, and changing the world. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 49(4), 318–339.

  • Social justice "can be at the forefront of a secondary English curriculum that simultaneously incorporates traditional skill development and critical analysis."

  • In a heterogeneous classroom focusing on social activism, the teacher should place student-generated inquiry questions at the forefront.

  • Students should explore examples of social activism in order to identify the traits of an agent of change before engaging in their own activism.

  • Students hone reading skills by applying essential nonfiction reading strategies to texts as they explore their topics.

  • Writing that aims at affecting social change should be shared publicly.

  • Students should be given the opportunity to choose activism issues that speak to them personally.

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Standards

NCTE/IRA NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

1.

Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.

 

3.

Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

 

4.

Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

 

5.

Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

 

6.

Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

 

11.

Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

 

12.

Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

 

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Resources & Preparation

MATERIALS AND TECHNOLOGY

  • Computers with Internet access and printing capability

  • One computer with Internet access and speakers

  • Overhead projector or whiteboard

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.

 

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.

 

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PRINTOUTS

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WEBSITES

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PREPARATION

1.If you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve time in your school's computer lab for Sessions 4 and 7.

2.Familiarize yourself with content on the websites listed in the Web Resources. The "Free Speech, In and Out of School" article focuses on students' rights to free speech and was written from an adult perspective for an adult audience. The "To Sag or Not to Sag" podcast reflects a student's perspective on the fashion trend of boys wearing low-riding pants (click the audio bar to hear podcast; feature starts around 15:19). Alternatively, you may want to locate editorial articles on topics that are relevant to your particular group of students-such as school uniforms, for example.

3.Print a copy for each student of the article or bookmark the podcast on your classroom computer so that you can also play it for your students (see Sessions 1 and 2).

4.Print and review the Elements of Effective Persuasive Writing and Persuasive Writing Topic Exploration handouts. Each student will need three copies of the Elements of Effective Persuasive Writing handout. Each group of students will need one copy of the Persuasive Writing Topic Exploration handout.

5.Familiarize yourself with the interactive Persuasion Map and Letter Generator websites. Bookmark both websites on your classroom or school lab computers. If you experience technical difficulties, you may need to download the newest version of the Flash plug-in, which is available for free on the Technical Help page of this website. You may want to create and print your own persuasion map and letter to serve as models.

6.Review the Persuasive Writing: Letter to the Principal Rubric. Print out two copies per student.

7.For part of this lesson students will need to work in collaborative writing groups of no more than three students each. Think about how you would like to group students. Will students choose their own groups, or will you group students based on abilities, interests, personalities, etc.? If you are planning on grouping students yourself, create a list of the groups ahead of time for Session 3.

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Instructional Plan

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • Interpret and evaluate published persuasive pieces of writing in order to identify and emulate elements of effective persuasive writing

  • Develop problem identification and exploration skills by examining issues in the school community

  • Develop persuasive writing skills by formulating a strong persuasive argument and employing elements of effective persuasive writing

  • Develop and expand knowledge and application of written language conventions by reading and analyzing published pieces of persuasive writing and engaging in the writing process (including editing and revising)

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Sessions 1 & 2: Exploring the Elements of Effective Persuasive Letter Writing

1.Introduce the concept of persuasive letter writing. Ask students to brainstorm reasons why people write letters. Focus on the idea of writing letters to influence someone's opinion or effect change in the community. Use letters to the editor in a newspaper or magazine as examples of sharing one's opinion, attempting to influence others' opinions, and encouraging community change.

Depending on your students, you may want to briefly discuss the elements of a standard business letter.

2.Tell students they will have the opportunity to write letters to the most influential person in their immediate community, the principal, about a school issue that they believe needs to be addressed. First, however, they need to understand what makes an effective piece of persuasive writing.

3.Hand out three copies of the Elements of Effective Persuasive Writing graphic organizer to each student. Discuss each of the elements of effective writing listed on the handout. Ask students to record explanations of each element as you discuss them (under the "What does this mean?" question). You should be sure to cover the following points:
  • Position: Writers need to clearly state their positions on their topics in order to persuade their readers. If a writer is not clear about his/her beliefs on the topic, s/he stands little chance of convincing someone else to make a change. In addition, when writers collaborate on a persuasive piece of writing, all involved must agree to support the same position. Sometimes writers even take a position they do not personally agree with and work to explain that position. You should emphasize this last point as students will be working in groups to develop their own persuasive letters. All students in a group must agree to adopt one single position in their letter.

  • Attention to Audience: Writers need to adjust their writing based on their audience. This is especially true when the goal of the writing is to persuade the reader to take action. The writing style will be formal when the audience is a person in a position of authority and casual when the audience is a friend or family member. Illustrate the differences in formal and casual writing by asking students to consider the differences in the ways that they write notes (or emails) to their friends versus the way they would write a letter (or email) to the President of the United States.

  • Factual Support: In order to be convincing, a persuasive piece of writing needs to include factual details. Provide students with examples of factual support (i.e., data, anecdotes, interviews, information from other sources such as newspapers and books, and so forth). Students will be using their own experiences and observations as factual support for their persuasive letters. (If you are interested in having your students practice this aspect of effective persuasive writing further, please see the extension activity focusing on Internet research following the lesson.)

  • Effective Word Choice: Persuasive language is strong but appropriate. Writers need to choose words that are also descriptive and specific. An excellent example of effective word choice is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

  • Ethos: Ethos is the credibility to write. Discuss what gives a particular writer credibility to write a persuasive piece of writing. Give students examples of people who would be considered credible sources on particular topics (i.e., a doctor on health issues, a teacher on education, a government official on local political issues). Ask students to consider what gives them credibility to write about school issues.
4.Hand out copies of the editorial article or go to the bookmarked podcast on the class computer. Tell students that they will be reading or listening to pieces of persuasive writing and that, as they read this article or listen to the podcast, they should be looking for the ways that the author uses the elements of effective persuasive writing shown on the graphic organizer.

5.Read aloud (or if using the podcast, play aloud) the article. Pause periodically to ask students to locate examples of effective elements in the article. Ask students to record each example on the handout. (If students need additional support recording ideas, model writing examples in the appropriate sections of the graphic organizer and display on an overhead projector.)

6.Repeat Step 5 with editorial article or podcast not used in Steps 1-5. This time, ask students to read the article silently and record examples of the elements used in the article on the graphic organizer. When all students are finished working, ask them to share the examples they found. Encourage students to record any examples not already on their graphic organizers that are shared by others.

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Session 3: Brainstorming and Selecting Persuasive Letter Topics

1.Remind students that one of the purposes for writing persuasive letters is to effect change in one's community and that they will have the opportunity to do so for an issue important to them. Ask students to brainstorm problems or issues in their school community that they believe need to be addressed. List their ideas on the chalkboard, whiteboard, or overhead projector.

2.Ask students to re-examine the topic list, thinking about the elements of effective persuasive writing discussed during the previous two sessions. You may want to ask students to take out the graphic organizer they completed as a reminder. Narrow down the list considering these factors (cross out ideas that are not appropriate considering these elements).

Some questions to consider asking students during this discussion include the following:
  • Audience: Considering that the audience for your letter will be the principal, which topics are appropriate and not appropriate? Which issues from our list will the principal have the power to change? Which issues is the principal most likely (or least likely) to address?

  • Factual Support: For which topics can you come up with strong, convincing factual support? What are some examples of factual support that you can think of for each particular topic?

  • Ethos: Do you have the credibility or authority to write about a particular topic? Why or why not? What gives you this credibility or authority? Why do you believe that the principal should listen to your argument on this issue?
3.Place students in collaborative writing groups. Either allow students to place themselves in groups of no more than three students each or assign students to groups (using the list you prepared before the lesson). Depending on the makeup of the class you can do any of the following to assign topics:
  • Allow each group to select their own topic. This option is best if your students are able to work independently and are motivated by choice. You may have some groups writing about the same topic.

  • Allow each group to select three topics. Then assign one topic from that list. This option is best if you want to ensure only one topic per group and/or if students need guidance selecting appropriate topics.

  • Assign each group a topic based on what you know about their interests. This option is best if students need guidance selecting appropriate topics.

  • Randomly assign each group a topic. This option is best if students have prior experience with persuasive writing and/or you want to prepare students to write on demand.
4.Once students are in their groups, tell them they will be spending some time exploring their topics before planning and writing their letters to the principal. Hand out one copy of the Persuasive Writing Topic Exploration graphic organizer to each group. Tell each group to write a short description of their position on the topic in the center of the organizer. Then ask each group of students to brainstorm and record reasons for their position on their graphic organizers. Students should draw from their own personal experiences and observations as reasons for their position. Tell students they should aim to fill all of the circles on the graphic organizer with ideas. Ask each group to "elect" one member of the group to record the group's ideas on the graphic organizer. Move between groups of students helping them brainstorm their ideas.

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Session 4: Persuasive Letter Planning and Writing

1.Place students in their groups and ask them to have their Persuasive Writing Topic Exploration handouts on their desks. Tell them that they will be planning their persuasive letters to the principal. Remind them that the persuasive writing they read or heard at the beginning of the lesson focused on a few specific reasons for the writers' positions. Ask students to discuss which reasons recorded on their graphic organizers are the most specific and convincing. Tell them to then circle the three strongest reasons. You may want to refer students back to their Elements of Effective Persuasive Writing graphic organizers if they need assistance selecting their top three reasons.

2.Direct groups to the bookmarked Persuasion Map on the classroom computer or in the computer lab and go over instructions for using the map. If you have created a sample map, pass it out to students and review. Have students enter their names (each group enters all group members' names) and topics on the opening screen. Then have students complete the first section ("Goal or thesis"). The goal or thesis is the position that the group is taking on the topic. Students should then enter the three reasons and facts and examples to support each reason.

3.Allow students time (approximately 20-30 minutes) to complete their Persuasion Maps. Remind students to print their maps before exiting.

4.When students complete their maps, they should use the rest of the time to start writing their letters to the principal using their maps as guides.

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Sessions 5 and 6: Persuasive Letter Revision

1.Students should spend the first half of the session writing their letters down. After about 30 minutes, tell them that if they have not completed their letters, they should do so during their free time or for homework.

2.Hand out one copy of the Persuasive Writing: Letter to the Principal Rubric to each student. Explain that you will be using these characteristics to evaluate students' letters. Quickly review the areas that you will use to evaluate and explain the four-point scale.

3.Tell students they will be using this rubric to help each other revise and edit their letters to the principal.

If necessary, provide a mini-lesson on the components of each of these processes (revising and editing). Explain to students that revising is making decisions about how you want to improve your writing; looking at your writing from a different point of view; and picking places where your writing could be clearer, more interesting, more informative, and more convincing. Then explain to students that editing is making corrections to spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, subject/verb agreement, verb tense, and word usage.

4.Ask one member from each group to read the group's letter aloud to the class. As the student reads the letter, all other students in the class should complete the rubric (except sections pertaining to conventions). Then ask students to share their evaluations with the group who went. You can either have students share their evaluations aloud or collect the completed rubrics and hand them to the group to review and discuss.

5.After all letters have been read aloud and all rubrics completed, tell groups they are to revise their letters based on the rubrics completed by their classmates. Areas where they did not score a four should be revised. Tell groups they are also to review the conventions of their letters to ensure that the grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct. To help students clearly see their revisions, you may want to ask students to use colored pencils or colored pens to record changes. Allow groups time to revise their letters (approximately 20-30 minutes).

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Session 7: Persuasive Letter Publication

1.Direct groups to the bookmarked Letter Generator on the classroom computer or in the computer lab and go over instructions for using the website. Have students enter their names (each group enters all group members' names) on the opening screen. If students are unfamiliar with the layout of a business letter, have them click on "See the Parts of a Letter" and then click on sections of the letter. Students should complete all sections in the Letter Generator. Then ask one member from each group to slowly read aloud their draft letter while another group member types the body of the letter into the Letter Generator.

2.Allow students time (approximately 20-25 minutes or longer if students' typing skills are not well developed) to complete the final copies of their letters. Remind students to print two copies of their letters before exiting.

3.After students print their letters, collect one copy of the letter to assess. Provide each group with an envelope for the other copy of the letter. Either collect the envelopes to deliver to the principal later or send individual students to the school office to deliver them. If you plan to have students deliver letters as they finish them, you may want to make prior arrangements with the principal or office staff.

4.When all group letters are complete, bring the class together to discuss the lesson. Some questions to consider asking students during this discussion include the following:
  • How do you think that the principal will respond to your letter? Why?

  • What makes your group's letter persuasive?

  • If you were the principal, what would you do upon reading your letter?

  • In what other situations could you use persuasive letter writing? Why would this be an effective method for dealing with these particular issues or problems?

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EXTENSIONS

  • Arrange with the school principal to respond to students' letters. S/he could write response letters to each group or visit the class to discuss the letters. Be sure to provide him/her with a copy of the rubric to help him/her focus feedback on those skills students developed and practiced in this lesson.

  • Have students create action plans. They could write follow-up letters or create multimedia presentations for the principal proposing a solution to the issue that fits with the positions outlined in their persuasive letters.

  • Have students conduct research on the Internet, focusing on how other schools in the United States have handled their issue. Many issues, such as school uniforms and cell phone usage, are "hot " topics in other schools. Ask students to create multimedia presentations of their findings (using a program such as PowerPoint) to share with the class.

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

  • Observe student participation in the discussion about the elements of effective persuasive writing. Be sure to guide students as they identify and record examples of effective persuasive writing in the published pieces you examine as a class.

  • Review each collaborative writing group’s Persuasion Map and initial draft of their letter to the principal. Offer them feedback focused on the elements of effective persuasive writing.

  • Observe and use guiding questions as students evaluate each group’s letter to the principal using the Persuasive Writing: Letter to the Principal Rubric. Collect student rubrics and review them to help guide groups as they make revisions.

  • Assess the final product letters to the principal using the Persuasive Writing: Letter to the Principal Rubric.

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Related Resources

LESSON PLANS

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writing

Through a classroom game and resource handouts, students learn about the techniques used in persuasive oral arguments and apply them to independent persuasive writing activities.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Developing Persuasive Arguments through Ethical Inquiry: Two Prewriting Strategies

In this lesson, students use focused prewriting strategies to explore content and ethical issues related to a persuasive assignment.

 

Grades   6 – 12  |  Lesson Plan

Persuade Me in Five Slides! Creating Persuasive Digital Stories

After students write persuasive essays, use this lesson to challenge them to summarize their essays concisely by creating five-slide presentations.

 

Grades   6 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Summarizing with Haikus

Using the Haiku Poem App or the Haiku Poem Interactive, students summarize papers they have written using the traditional format of a haiku.

 

Grades   7 – 10  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Picture This: Combining Infographics and Argumentative Writing

After researching topics that the students have chosen, students write argumentative essays. Then, using Piktochart, students create their own infographics to illustrate their research.

 

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.

 

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.

 

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CALENDAR ACTIVITIES

Grades   4 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  July 18

Celebrate Mandela Day today.

After reading Kadir Nelson's Nelson Mandela, students explore the Mandela Day website before using an online tool to start working on a service project of their own.

 

Grades   1 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  July 7

Write letters that make things happen!

In a small group or as individuals, students write letters related to a unit of study or particular topic they have studied.

 

Grades   9 – 12  |  Calendar Activity  |  December 3

Frederick Douglass began publication of The North Star today in 1847.

Students read and discuss an editorial written by Frederick Douglass and then write the opening editorial for a contemporary publication devoted to a social cause important to them.

 

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PRINTOUTS

Grades   3 – 12  |  Printout  |  Graphic Organizer

Persuasion Map

Use this graphic organizer to develop a persuasive stance for an essay, speech, poster, or any type of assignment that incorporates persuasion.

 

Grades   5 – 12  |  Printout  |  Writing Starter

RAFT Writing Template

Students can utilize this printout to organize their writing as they learn to use the RAFT strategy. This printout enables students to clearly define their role, audience, format, and topic for writing.

 

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STRATEGY GUIDES

Grades   5 – 12  |  Strategy Guide

Using the RAFT Writing Strategy

This strategy guide introduces the RAFT technique and offers practical ideas for using this technique to teach students to experiment with various perspectives in their writing.

 

 

COMMUNITY STORIES

Making Writing Meaningful to Middle School Students

A Great Way to Re-introduce Letter Writing

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Comments

Updated, March 2, 2017 | We published an updated version of this list, “401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing,” as well as a companion piece, “650 Prompts for Narrative and Personal Writing.”

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter and get five new Student Opinion questions delivered to you every week.


If anything ever published on The Learning Network could be said to have “gone viral,” it is last February’s “200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing,” which we created to help teachers and students participate in our inaugural Student Editorial Contest.

We’ve now updated last year’s list with new questions and what we hope is more useful categorization.

So scroll through the 301 prompts below that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from politics to sports, culture, education and technology — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. Each question comes from our daily Student Opinion feature, and each provides links to free Times resources for finding more information.

What issues do you care about most? Find something to write about here, or post a comment if you think we’ve missed a topic you would like to see us cover.

And if these 301 questions aren’t enough, the Room for Debate blog provides many, many more.


    TECHNOLOGY

    Technology

  1. Does Technology Make Us More Alone?
  2. Are You Distracted by Technology?
  3. Do Apps Help You or Just Waste Your Time?
  4. Do You Spend Too Much Time on Smartphones Playing ‘Stupid Games’?
  5. Will Wearable Technology Ever Really Catch On?
  6. Are Digital Photographs Too Plentiful to Be Meaningful?
  7. Do You Worry We Are Filming Too Much?
  8. Would You Want a Pair of Google’s Computer Glasses?
  9. What Role Will Robots Play in Our Future?
  10. How Many Text Messages Are Too Many?

  11. Internet and Social Media

  12. Has Facebook Lost Its Edge?
  13. Does Facebook Ever Make You Feel Bad?
  14. Would You Consider Deleting Your Facebook Account?
  15. Should What You Say on Facebook Be Grounds for Getting Fired?
  16. Should People Be Allowed to Obscure Their Identities Online?
  17. How Much Do You Trust Online Reviews?

  18. Technology in Schools

  19. Are the Web Filters at Your School Too Restrictive?
  20. Do Your Teachers Use Technology Well?
  21. Should Tablet Computers Become the Primary Way Students Learn in Class?
  22. Can Cellphones Be Educational Tools?
  23. Should Computer Games Be Used for Classroom Instruction?
  24. Is Online Learning as Good as Face-to-Face Learning?
  25. How Would You Feel About a Computer Grading Your Essays?

  26. ART, FILM, BOOKS, VIDEO GAMES AND OTHER MEDIA

    Movies, TV and Theater

  27. Is TV Stronger Than Ever, or Becoming Obsolete?
  28. Do TV Shows Like ‘16 and Pregnant’ Promote or Discourage Teenage Pregnancy?
  29. Does Reality TV Promote Dangerous Stereotypes?
  30. Does TV Capture the Diversity of America Yet?
  31. Is TV Too White?
  32. Why Do We Like to Watch Rich People on TV and in the Movies?
  33. What Makes a Good TV Show Finale?
  34. What Makes a Good Commercial?
  35. Why Did a Cheerios Ad Attract So Many Angry Comments Online?
  36. What Were the Best Movies You Saw in the Past Year?
  37. Does Live Theater Offer Something You Just Can’t Get Watching Movies or TV?

  38. Music

  39. What Can You Predict About the Future of the Music Industry?
  40. What Current Musicians Do You Think Will Stand the Test of Time?
  41. What Artists or Bands of Today Are Destined for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
  42. What Artists Do You Consider ‘Sellouts’?
  43. What Musician, Actor or Author Should Be a Superstar, but Hasn’t Quite Made It Yet?
  44. Who Does Hip-Hop Belong To?
  45. Will Musical Training Make You More Successful?

  46. Video Games

  47. Should Video Games Be Considered a Sport?
  48. Should Stores Sell Violent Video Games to Minors?
  49. Do Violent Video Games Make People More Violent in Real Life?
  50. When Should You Feel Guilty for Killing Zombies?
  51. Can a Video Game Be a Work of Art?
  52. What Game Would You Like to Redesign?
  53. How Sexist Is the Gaming World?

  54. Literature

  55. Would You Trade Your Paper Books for Digital Versions?
  56. Does Reading a Book Count More Than Listening to One?
  57. To What Writer Would You Award a Prize?
  58. Who Are the Characters That Authors Should Be Writing About?
  59. Do You Prefer Your Children’s Book Characters Obedient or Contrary?

  60. Art

  61. Can Graffiti Ever Be Considered Art?
  62. Do We Need Art in Our Lives?
  63. Does Pop Culture Deserve Serious Study?
  64. Where Is the Line Between Truth and Fiction?
  65. Should Society Support Artists and Others Pursuing Creative Works?

  66. GENDER AND RELATIONSHIPS

    Gender Issues

  67. Do Parents Have Different Hopes and Standards for Their Sons Than for Their Daughters?
  68. Is School Designed More for Girls Than Boys?
  69. Is There Too Much Pressure on Girls to Have ‘Perfect’ Bodies?
  70. How Much Pressure Do Boys Face to Have the Perfect Body?
  71. Do Photoshopped Images Make You Feel Bad About Your Own Looks?
  72. Doctored Photos: O.K. or Not?
  73. Is It O.K. for Men and Boys to Comment on Women and Girls on the Street?
  74. Do We Need New Ways to Identify Gender and Sexuality?
  75. What Should We Do to Fight Sexual Violence Against Young Women?
  76. How Do You Feel About Rihanna and Chris Brown Getting Back Together?
  77. Why Aren’t There More Girls in Leadership Roles?
  78. Why Aren’t More Girls Choosing to Pursue Careers in Math and Science?
  79. Should Women Be Allowed to Fight on the Front Lines Alongside Men?
  80. Do You Believe in Equal Rights for Women and Men?
  81. Are Women Better at Compromising and Collaborating?
  82. Do Boys Have Less Intense Friendships Than Girls?
  83. Can a Boy Wear a Skirt to School?
  84. Is It O.K. to Refuse to Serve Same-Sex Couples Based on Religious Beliefs?

  85. Dating and Sex

  86. Should Birth Control Pills Be Available to Teenage Girls Without a Prescription?
  87. Should the Morning-After Pill Be Sold Over the Counter to People Under 17?
  88. How Should Children Be Taught About Puberty and Sex?
  89. Is Dating a Thing of the Past?
  90. Is Hookup Culture Leaving Your Generation Unhappy and Unprepared for Love?
  91. Should Couples Live Together Before Marriage?
  92. Could Following These Directions Make You Fall in Love With a Stranger?
  93. How Should Educators and Legislators Deal With Minors Who ‘Sext’?
  94. How Should Parents Address Internet Pornography?

  95. SPORTS AND ATHLETICS

    Football

  96. If Football Is So Dangerous to Players, Should We Be Watching It?
  97. Should Parents Let Their Children Play Football?
  98. Should College Football Players Get Paid?
  99. Is It Offensive for Sports Teams to Use Native American Names and Mascots?

  100. Sportsmanship

  101. Are Some Youth Sports Too Intense?
  102. Should There Be Stricter Rules About How Coaches Treat Their Players?
  103. Do Sports Teams Have a Responsibility to Hold Players to a Standard for Their Personal Conduct?
  104. Should Athletes Who Dope Have to Forfeit Their Titles and Medals?
  105. Do Fans Put Too Much Pressure on Their Favorite Professional Athletes?
  106. Does a Championship Game Always Need to Have a Winner (and a Loser)?
  107. Should Sports Betting Be Legal Everywhere?
  108. Should Colleges Fund Wellness Programs Instead of Sports?
  109. Where Should Colleges and Sports Teams Draw the Line in Selling Naming Rights?

  110. Other Sports

  111. Has Baseball Lost Its Cool?
  112. Is Cheerleading a Sport?
  113. How Big a Deal Is It That an N.B.A. Player Came Out as Gay?
  114. Would You Want a Bike Share Program for Your Community?
  115. How Young Is Too Young to Climb Mount Everest?

  116. POLITICS AND POLICY

    Government

  117. Do You Trust Your Government?
  118. If You Were Governor of Your State, How Would You Spend a Budget Surplus?
  119. What Local Problems Do You Think Your Mayor Should Try to Solve?
  120. Should Rich People Have to Pay More Taxes?
  121. What Is More Important: Our Privacy or National Security?

  122. Leadership and Politics

  123. Do Leaders Have Moral Obligations?
  124. Do Great Leaders Have to Be Outgoing?
  125. Is It Principled, or Irresponsible, for Politicians to Threaten a Shutdown?

  126. International Relations

  127. Should the U.S. Be Spying on Its Friends?
  128. When Is the Use of Military Force Justified?
  129. Should Countries Pay Ransoms to Free Hostages Held by Terrorists?

  130. Police, Prisons and Justice System

  131. Should the United States Stop Using the Death Penalty?
  132. When Should Juvenile Offenders Receive Life Sentences?
  133. What Do You Think of the Police Tactic of Stop-and-Frisk?
  134. Do Rich People Get Off Easier When They Break the Law?
  135. Should All Police Officers Wear Body Cameras?
  136. Will What Happened in Ferguson Change Anything?
  137. Should Felons Be Allowed to Vote After They Have Served Their Time?

  138. Gun Policy

  139. How Should We Prevent Future Mass Shootings?
  140. Would You Feel Safer With Armed Guards Patrolling Your School?
  141. What Is Your Relationship With Guns?
  142. Where Do You Stand on Unconcealed Handguns?
  143. Should Guns Be Permitted on College Campuses?
  144. Did a Newspaper Act Irresponsibly by Publishing the Addresses of Gun Owners?

  145. Immigration

  146. Should Millions of Undocumented Immigrants Be Allowed to Live in the U.S. Without Fear of Getting Deported?
  147. Are Children of Illegal Immigrants Entitled to a Public Education?

  148. PARENTS AND FAMILIES

    Parenting and Childhood

  149. How Much Freedom Should Parents Give Their Children?
  150. How Should Parents Discipline Their Kids?
  151. When Does Discipline Become Child Abuse?
  152. Do ‘Shame and Blame’ Work to Change Teenage Behavior?
  153. Do We Give Children Too Many Trophies?
  154. Are Adults Hurting Young Children by Pushing Them to Achieve?
  155. Is Modern Culture Ruining Childhood?
  156. How, and by Whom, Should Children Be Taught Appropriate Behavior?
  157. Are ‘Dark’ Movies O.K. for Kids?
  158. Should Halloween Costumes Portray Only ‘Positive Images’?
  159. Are Parents Violating Their Children’s Privacy When They Share Photos and Videos of Them Online?
  160. Should Children Be Allowed to Compete on TV?
  161. How Young Is Too Young for an iPhone?
  162. Should Parents Limit How Much Time Children Spend on Tech Devices?

  163. Parents and School

  164. How Should Parents Handle a Bad Report Card?
  165. How Important Are Parent-Teacher Conferences?
  166. Who Should Be Able to See Students’ Records?
  167. Would You Want to Be Home-Schooled?
  168. Should All Children Be Able to Go to Preschool?

  169. House and Home

  170. How Important Is Keeping a Clean House?
  171. Does Keeping a Messy Desk Make People More Creative?

  172. Millennial Generation

  173. What Can Older People Learn From Your Generation?
  174. Does Your Generation Have Too Much Self-Esteem?
  175. Is Your Generation Really ‘Postracial’?

  176. Becoming an Adult

  177. When Do You Become an Adult?
  178. When Should You Be Able to Buy Cigarettes, Drink Alcohol, Vote, Drive and Fight in Wars?
  179. When You Are Old Enough to Vote, Will You?

  180. CHARACTER AND MORALITY

    Personal Character

  181. Can Money Buy You Happiness?
  182. Does Buying and Accumulating More and More Stuff Make Us Happier?
  183. Are We Losing the Art of Listening?
  184. Do People Complain Too Much?
  185. Which Is More Important: Talent or Hard Work?
  186. How Important Is Keeping Your Cool?
  187. When Should You Compromise?
  188. Is Your Generation More Self-Centered Than Earlier Generations?

  189. Religion and Spirituality

  190. Do You Believe That Everything Happens for a Reason?
  191. How Much Control Do You Think You Have Over Your Fate?
  192. Can You Be Good Without God?
  193. How Important Do You Think It Is to Marry Someone With the Same Religion?

  194. Morality and Personal Responsibility

  195. Does Suffering Make Us Stronger and Lead to Success?
  196. Do Bystanders Have a Responsibility to Intervene When There is Trouble?
  197. When Is Looting Morally O.K.?
  198. Can Kindness Become Cool?

  199. Language and Standards

  200. Have Curse Words Become So Common They Have Lost Their Shock Value?
  201. What Words or Phrases Do You Think Are Overused?
  202. What Words or Phrases Should Be Retired?
  203. Do Laws That Ban Offensive Words Make the World a Better Place?
  204. Should Newspapers Reprint Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad That Some Deem Offensive?
  205. Is It Wrong for a Newspaper to Publish a Front-Page Photo of a Man About to Die?

  206. EDUCATION

    Teaching and Learning

  207. Do Teachers Assign Too Much Homework?
  208. Does Your Homework Help You Learn?
  209. What Are You Really Learning at School?
  210. Does Class Size Matter?
  211. Do We Need a New Way to Teach Math?
  212. Does Gym Help Students Perform Better in All Their Classes?
  213. Should Reading and Math Be Taught in Gym Class Too?
  214. What Are the Best Ways to Learn About History?
  215. What Is the Right Amount of Group Work in School?
  216. What Do You Think of Grouping Students by Ability in Schools?
  217. How Important Is Arts Education?
  218. Do Schools Provide Students With Enough Opportunities to Be Creative?
  219. Does the Way Your Classroom Is Decorated Affect Your Learning?

  220. Discipline and School Rules

  221. What Are the Best Teaching Methods for Getting Students to Behave Well in Class?
  222. How Does Your School Deal With Students Who Misbehave?
  223. Should Schools Be Allowed to Use Corporal Punishment?
  224. Is Cheating Getting Worse?
  225. Should Schools Put Tracking Devices in Students’ ID Cards?
  226. Should Middle School Students Be Drug Tested?
  227. Should Students Be Barred From Taking Cellphones to School?

  228. Bullying

  229. How Big a Problem Is Bullying or Cyberbullying in Your School or Community?
  230. How Should Schools Address Bullying?
  231. How Should Schools Address Cyberbullying?
  232. What Should the Punishment Be for Acts of Cyberbullying?
  233. When Do Pranks Cross the Line to Become Bullying?
  234. How Should Schools Respond to Hazing Incidents?

  235. Time in School

  236. Should the School Day Start Later?
  237. Is Your School Day Too Short?
  238. Do You Think a Longer School Calendar Is a Good Idea?
  239. Should the Dropout Age Be Raised?
  240. Should We Rethink How Long Students Spend in High School?
  241. Should Students Be Allowed to Skip Senior Year of High School?
  242. Should Kids Head to College Early?
  243. Class Time + Substitute = Waste?
  244. Do Kids Need Recess?

  245. Grading

  246. Should Students Be Able to Grade Their Teachers?
  247. Does Your School Hand Out Too Many A’s?
  248. Do Girls Get Better Grades Than Boys in Your School?
  249. Does Separating Boys and Girls Help Students Perform Better in School?
  250. Why Do Boys Lag Behind Girls in Reading?
  251. Should Discomfort Excuse Students From Having to Complete an Assignment?

  252. Standardized Tests

  253. How Well Do You Think Standardized Tests Measure Your Abilities?
  254. How Seriously Should We Take Standardized Tests?
  255. Do You Spend Too Much Time Preparing for Standardized Tests?
  256. Should Schools Offer Cash Bonuses for Good Test Scores?

  257. School Life

  258. Would You Rather Attend a Public or a Private High School?
  259. How Much Does It Matter to You Which High School You Attend?
  260. Are Small Schools More Effective Than Large Schools?
  261. Should Home-Schoolers Be Allowed to Play Public School Sports?
  262. Should All Students Get Equal Space in a Yearbook?
  263. Should School Newspapers Be Subject to Prior Review?
  264. Is Prom Worth It?
  265. Is Prom Just an Excuse to Drink?

  266. COLLEGE AND CAREER

    College

  267. How Necessary Is a College Education?
  268. Is College Overrated?
  269. Should a College Education be Free?
  270. What Is the Perfect Number of College Applications to Send?
  271. Should Colleges Find a Better Way to Admit Students?
  272. Should Colleges Use Admissions Criteria Other Than SAT Scores and Grades?
  273. Do You Support Affirmative Action in College Admissions?
  274. Does It Matter Where You Go to College?
  275. Do College Rankings Matter?
  276. What Criteria Should Be Used in Awarding Scholarships for College?
  277. Should Engineers Pay Less for College Than English Majors?
  278. Do Fraternities Promote Misogyny?
  279. Should Colleges Ban Fraternities?

  280. Jobs and Careers

  281. Would You Quit if Your Values Did Not Match Your Employer’s?
  282. Should Employers Be Able to Review Job Applicants’ SAT Scores?
  283. Do You Worry Colleges or Employers Might Read Your Social Media Posts Someday?
  284. Would You Rather Work From Home or in an Office?
  285. Is ‘Doing Nothing’ a Good Use of Your Time?

  286. HEALTH AND NUTRITION

    Drugs, Cigarettes and Alcohol

  287. Is Smoking Still a Problem Among Teenagers?
  288. Are Antismoking Ads Effective?
  289. Is Drinking and Driving Still a Problem for Teenagers?
  290. Should Marijuana Be Legal?
  291. Should Students Be Required to Take Drug Tests?
  292. Why Is Binge Drinking So Common Among Young People in the United States?

  293. Nutrition and Food

  294. Do You Think a Healthier School Lunch Program Is a Lost Cause?
  295. Should French Fries and Pizza Sauce Count as Vegetables?
  296. How Concerned Are You About Where Your Food Comes From?
  297. Is It Ethical to Eat Meat?
  298. Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?
  299. Do You Prefer Your Tacos ‘Authentic’ or ‘Appropriated’?
  300. Should Sugary Drinks Be Taxed?
  301. Should the Government Limit the Size of Sugary Drinks?

  302. Health Issues

  303. How Should Schools Handle Unvaccinated Students?
  304. Should Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal in Every State?
  305. Should Texting While Driving Be Illegal in Every State?
  306. Should Terminally Ill Patients Be Allowed to Die on Their Own Terms?

  307. Appearance and Fashion

  308. Should Children Be Allowed to Wear Whatever They Want?
  309. What Are Your Opinions on Cosmetic Surgery?
  310. Do ‘Saggy Pants’ Mean Disrespect?
  311. Should You Care About the Health and Safety of Those Making Your Clothing?

  312. SCIENCE TOPICS

    Science and the Environment

  313. How Concerned Are You About Climate Change?
  314. How Should Nations and Individuals Address Climate Change?
  315. Should Developers Be Allowed to Build in and Near the Grand Canyon?
  316. Should Scientists Try to Help People Beat Old Age So We Can Live Longer Lives?
  317. Given Unlimited Resources, What Scientific or Medical Problem Would You Investigate?
  318. When Is It O.K. to Replace Human Limbs With Technology?
  319. Should Fertilized Eggs Be Given Legal ‘Personhood’?

  320. Outer Space

  321. Do You Think Life Exists — or Has Ever Existed — Somewhere Besides Earth?
  322. Do You Believe in Intelligent Alien Life?
  323. Will Humans Live on Mars Someday?
  324. Would You Want to Be a Space Tourist?

  325. Animals

  326. Should Certain Animals Have Some of the Same Legal Rights As People?
  327. Is It Unethical for a Zoo to Kill a Healthy Giraffe?
  328. Should You Go to Jail for Kicking a Cat?
  329. Should You Feel Guilty About Killing Spiders, Ants or Other Bugs?
  330. How Do You Think Dinosaurs Went Extinct?

  331. MISCELLANEOUS

    Rich and Famous

  332. Should the Private Lives of Famous People Be Off Limits?
  333. Do You Think Child Stars Have It Rough?

  334. American Dream

  335. Should the United States Care That It’s Not No. 1?
  336. Is It Possible to Start Out Poor in This Country, Work Hard and Become Well-Off?
  337. Do Poor People ‘Have It Easy’?
  338. How Much Does Your Neighborhood Define Who You Are?

  339. Charity and Philanthropy

  340. Should Charities Focus More on America?
  341. What Causes Should Philanthropic Groups Finance?
  342. Is Teenage ‘Voluntourism’ Wrong?

  343. Shopping

  344. Do You Shop at Locally Owned Businesses?
  345. Is Amazon Becoming Too Powerful?
  346. Should Companies Collect Information About You?
  347. What Time Should Black Friday Sales Start?
  348. How Long Is It O.K. to Linger in a Cafe or Restaurant?

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