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The Opinion Line: A great teaching tool for in-person and virtual learning!

Are you looking for a way to break up your lesson and get students both thinking and moving? Try an opinion line! An opinion line is a real or imaginary line that you make in your classroom, then once you read a statement which can be agreed or disagreed with the students get up and stand on the line where their opinion falls. If they strongly agree with the statement then they stand under the "strongly agree" sign, if they strongly disagree then they stand under the "strongly disagree" sign and since the line is a continuum they can stand anywhere in-between. You can then ask students to explain why they chose a specific location on the line and share their opinion with the class, since it is an opinion-based activity there is no right or wrong answer so students often feel more comfortable taking risks.



Steps for an In-Person Opinion Line:


If you are interested in using an Opinion Line in your classroom, here are the things to prepare:


#1 : Make sure you have a controversial or multi-faceted topic to discuss in class, I love using Opinion lines for genetics, cloning & stem cells, it is very useful in advisory when talking about student choices in scenarios regarding peer interaction and making choices about things like smoking as well as for topics like Climate Change.


#2 : Ensure that your students learn enough about the topic to have an opinion that they can defend with reasonable evidence. For example, before doing an Opinion Line about Tipping Points for climate change I had my students read this Nature article for homework and answer some questions.


#3 : Put the Opinion line cards (free to download in the link below) on the wall or board, using tape or ideally magnets on my whiteboards. I printed these cards out and then laminated them so I can pull them out to use them whenever I decide to do an Opinion Line activity. You can also just write the words" Strongly Agree", "Strongly Disagree" and "Neither Agree nor disagree" directly on the board or on pieces of paper to put up.

Opinion Line Landscape Poster Set
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.17MB

#4 : Put together your Opinion line statements, I usually use from 3 - 5 different statements and have them build upon each other, I also have found that having them written on a slide and projected helps students keep better track of what they are agreeing or disagreeing with. Some students really struggle with oral instructions so having the statements on the board is an easy and effective scaffold. You can see the statements I used for the Tipping Points Opinion Line in the image below. I set up my slide with animations so only one statement shows up a time.


#5 : Go over behavioral expectations with your students, you want them to step back from the line whenever a new statement is posted/read, I often have them go to the back of the room just to reset themselves. You should also be clear that you will call on students to defend why they have chosen that place along the line. I use a random name generator or popsicle sticks with students names on them to choose the students.


#6 : Have fun with your Opinion line! It's a great way to generate interesting discussions and get students moving.


A virtual Option: Padlet!

If you are looking to do a virtual opinion line a great website to use is Padlet, you can see a screenshot below of a "shelf" I put together on Padlet. This free website is very interactive, you can post the link and your students can login and post comments. I made a shelf with 3 columns, one for Strongly Agree, on for Neither Agree nor Disagree and one for Strongly disagree. You can see sample student posts in the white boxes below. This way students can share their opinions for each statement and you can have them explain/defend their choices in a Zoom or Google Meets call. While I hope the days of virtual school are long gone, it's always a good idea to have a backup!


I hope you found this post helpful!


Thanks for reading teachers, travelers and curious souls of all kinds.


The Roaming Scientist






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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm the kind of teacher who is always trying something new, new labs, new Apps, new scaffolds and even new countries to live and teach in. I'm looking forward to share what I learn with you all through my weekly blog posts. 

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