Pro/con lists are popular for helping people weigh the good and bad aspects of big decisions. In Luke Thomas’s case, he didn’t have a choice about whether or not he’d be continuing his schooling at home when he wrote Online Learning: A Blessing in Disguise. However, spelling out positives and negatives was a great way for him to sort out complex feelings about a big shift in his life. Luke’s article follows a YR Media format called a listicle, an efficient, engaging and informative way to deliver news.
Using this lesson plan, students will outline their pros and cons of returning to in-person learning, to help them process the change as the new academic year starts for those re-entering the classroom beyond screens. It won’t just be your average pro/con list scrawled on notepad or typed out on their phones. They’ll use GIFs and the listicle format to really express ideas and feelings about the big transitions ahead. Students will love using this nontraditional, visual format to practice expository writing. Additionally and practically, learning how to create listicles is a useful skill and striking and compelling way to present information for future projects.
COMMUNITY CONNECTION ICEBREAKER
What are some things that you have a love-hate relationship with? Another way to think about this is, what are the things that, if you made a pro/cons list about them, you’d have roughly the same number of points on each side? An example answer might be social media! You need it to stay connected to your friends but sometimes it leads to unhealthy comparison to strangers or peers.
Give students time to reflect before answering as a class. You can have students answer this first question as a class and then get into groups or pairs (in break out rooms or in person) to answer why.
Do others have a love-hate relationship with these things too?
ACTIVITY 1: READ ONLINE LEARNING: A BLESSING IN DISGUISE BY LUKE THOMAS
Discuss in small groups, pairs, or as a class. Do any of the items that Thomas includes on his pro or con list surprise you?
- What resonates with you about Luke’s pro/con list?
- Are there any pros that you think should be cons?
- If you had to add another con, what would you add?
- If you had to add another pro, what would you add?
ACTIVITY 2: CREATING PRO/CON LISTICLES
PART 1: Have students read: DIY: How to Write a Listicle
PART 2: Breaking down YR Media News Tone in a listicle
- Have students read: Mark-Up: An Annotated YR Media Listicle
- What do you notice about the way that YR Media News Tone shows up in Luke’s story?
- Anything you would suggest to give Luke’s story even more of the YR Media News Tone quality?
PART 3: Preparing to write your own pro/con listicle
Invite students to start by making a classic pro/cons list about the experience of returning to school buildings. It can just be two labeled lists, or students can divide a paper into two with a line down the middle. On the pro side, students will draft quick blurbs about the good things about returning back to school. On the other side, students will list what they think are the negative aspects of their return to school.
Encourage students to get creative and think about things that their classmates might not list. What entries on your list will be unique to only you — considerations your peers might not even consider? Are there aspects of the way your specific school is handling reopening buildings and resuming school programs that you'd want to call out on either list?
After students create their pro/con lists, they can fill out the "Creating a YR Media Listicle" worksheet. This worksheet will help students further develop their ideas in the formal listicle format. Additionally, this worksheet includes a checklist to ensure that students complete all the steps.
Lastly, students can find and create graphics to illustrate their listicles. Students are probably already pros at this, but they can find great GIFs on GIPHY.com.
You may want to give students the opportunity to peer-edit or turn in their worksheets for you to review.
After worksheets are finalized, students will transfer everything to a clean document. You can require students to upload their pro/con listicles to a shared drive so that their peers can see their work.
You may require students to make at least two comments on their peers' work. Did a peer offer a unique perspective? Did you find commonalities between your listicle and your peers?
DEBRIEF AS A CLASS
- Did anything surprise you about this activity?
- How did you feel about organizing your feelings about returning to school buildings into a pro/con list?
- Did you find that you are aligned with peers about the pros and cons of school reopening?
- How will you use this list to maintain mental health and well-being?
INVITATION FOR ACTION & CONNECTION
Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive our newsletter and become a member of our growing teacher network!