One of the most enjoyable parts of teaching middle school kids was that they didn’t hold much back. If they had an opinion about something, you heard it. It was like working in a constant online talk show!
But how to direct that passion? Use a simple technique called Opinion/Proof.
What is Opinion/Proof?
Opinion/Proof is designed to use the power of students’ own opinions about content and direct those opinions back into a learning environment. The basic idea is that you can share any opinion you want but it must be a supported opinion – based on ideas, facts, or content found within the topic being studied. Their opinion could also be based on research that they do outside of class.
How Does it Work?
Have kids take a piece of paper and make a “hot dog” fold. That is, fold the paper in half length-wise. Label the left side “Opinion” and the right column “Proof.” (You or the kids could also create a simple two-column layout using a word processor.)
Whose opinion goes in the left-hand column? You can assign one or more opinions to your kids but it always works better if you let the students create their own. The passion lives with their opinions, not yours!
Then students work to find support for their opinion from the textbook, videos, newspapers, magazines or other sources of content. Students can use their charts as support for a class debate, to write a persuasive essay, create an editorial or develop some sort of a digital product. Their chart can also be used for a unit review.
What Does an Opinion-Proof Chart Look Like?