How do I help students have productive discussions about current and controversial issues?
Engaging young people in discussions of local, national, and international issues is a core component of civic learning. When youth discuss current events, they report being more engaged in school and having a greater interest in politics. It can also lead to improved communication and critical thinking skills, increased civic knowledge, and a higher chance of participating in civic life as adults. However, the rise in partisanship has led to much more divisive civic and political dialogue off and online. Explore the resources on this page to learn how to engage youth in productive civic and political dialogue.
Discuss Current & Controversial Issues
Watch the videos below to see how teachers integrate discussion of current and controversial issues into their classrooms.
Build a Class Culture that Supports Discussion
Watch how teachers from a range of subject areas at the Urban Academy in New York City build a respectful classroom culture that promotes discussion.
In the DIALOGUE module, you will find activities, resources, and tools to help youth consider the features of good dialogue and navigate the affordances digital and social media provide for dialogue about civic issues.
Listen to teachers and students talk about the benefits of blogging in the classroom and how it promotes productive online dialogue, provides students with an authentic audience, and develops young people’s civic voice.
To learn more about the HOW of integrating blogging into your classroom, read about the strategies 9th grade teachers Jason Muniz and Nina Portugal use.
- The Political Classroom
- AERA Spencer Lecture 2017 on The Political Classroom
- Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversation On Difficult Issues
- Fostering Dialogue
- Teaching About Controversial Issues: Guidance for Schools
- Dialogue Toolkit (Project Zero)
- Youth Voices
- Fostering Civil Discourse: A Guide for Classroom Conversations
Blog Posts & Articles
- Teaching for Civic Engagement: Academic Discussion
- Teaching for Civic Engagement: Individual and Systemic Responsibility
- Politics in the Classroom: How Much Is Too Much?
- Educating Youth for Online Civic and Political Dialogue
- Getting Into the Fray: Civic Youth, Online Dialogue, and Implications for Digital Literacy Education
- Social media and online communities expose youth to political conversation, but also to incivility and conflict