Secondary English Language Arts
Material Type:
Middle School, High School
  • Cell Phones
  • Cer
  • Debate
  • Ipad Pages
  • Lesson Plan
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Opinion Writing- Publishing your views respectfully

    Opinion Writing- Publishing your views respectfully


    This lesson plan is designed to help students engage respectfully in expressing their opinion in a CER format, research in groups, and discuss and understand the opinions of others thoughtfully. 

    Thumbnail source:


    This lesson is most effective in a unit centered around a debate topic, where students learn a variety of ways to communicate their opinion and back it up with evidence and reasoning, while also trying to understand opposing views. 

    In this lesson, students will use iPad Pages in their debate groups to gather evidence which will help to demonstrate their stance on the issue.  Students will work collaboratively to gather evidence in preparation for writing their CER claim for the next lesson. This lesson and activity will take roughly 90 minutes.

    Background for Teachers

    Prior to this lesson, you should have a foundational knowledge about the claim-evidence-reasoning format for conveying an opinion.  You should be able to show students how to cite sources and guide students using iPad Pages. 

    This lesson is designed to precede CER writing.  Here is a resource with more information on CER, including graphic organizers:


    Step 1 - Goals and Outcomes

    Step 1 Goals and Outcomes

    Learning intentions:

    • Students will be able to collaborate effectively as a team as they explore the topic together.
    • Students will be able to analyze credibility of sources.
    • Students will be able to offer and receive feedback from their group on their finished product.

    Success criteria:

    • Students will produce a collection of credible information to back up their claim on the debate topic by using a brochure template on the Pages app, getting an 80% or higher on the project rubric.

    Step 2 - Planning Instruction

    Step 2 Planning Instruction

    Student Background Knowledge

    Prior to this lesson, students will need to have an understanding of:

    • facts vs opinions
    • CER
    • technology used- iPad with Pages
    • credible sources and how to cite them

    Strategies for Diverse Learners

    Anchor charts with examples of facts and opinions will be a helpful resource.  Displaying or printing off reference pages of example citations is also helpful.  If mobility is an issue for some students, use Padlet instead of a whiteboard for the beginning activity and adjust accordingly; you can also adapt the activity by using sticky notes with drawings to bring up to the whiteboard to help students' expressive needs..  If there are students with difficulty reading and writing, facilitate scaffolding with heterogenous groups at the starting activity.

    Step 3 - Instruction

    Step 3 Instruction

    Activate prior knowledge:

    Students will be invited to write on the board a variety of phone policies their teachers have in each classroom, such as leaving a phone in a basket, using a phone when the sign indicates, no policy, etc.  Students will have 3 minutes to fill the board with policies that they can recall.  Then, students will write a check next to policies they agree with and an X next to policies they disagree with.

    Have a discussion on the results, pulling in as much participation as possible.  Point out to the students that there are some policies that have many X's, some with many checks, and some with an even amount of each.  Does this mean that a policy is inherently good or bad, based on the group opinion? Point to a policy that the students have marked with several X's.  What is the reasoning behind this policy?  After thinking it through, it's possible that some of us may change our stance on it.


    Instruct student groups to work together on a pros and cons list for having access to a cell phone in the classroom.  Students will have only 5 minutes to work on this.  Then play a game where students volunteer their pros and cons to the class.  The group with the most unique pros and cons left (that no one else said) wins.

    Present the debate topic:  Should cell phones be used during class time?  Have students think about it, close their eyes, and give their answer in a thumbs up/down gesture.  Arrange groups according to matching opinion to work on the project.

    Explain the project after arranging students into new groups (if necessary).  Students are to collaborate on a brochure in iPad Pages to gather sources and information which will support their opinion.  iPad Pages is the ideal tool to use in this activity because of its collaborative features, user friendly interface, and (because of the iPad OS) accessibility features available to help every student succeed.

    Students will have 60 minutes to do so.  Show the example resource provided (which argues a different issue but shows citations and uses a brochure template).  Hand out the rubric  (under section 6 resources) to each group and discuss the expectations with them. 

    Set a visual timer to help students keep pace.  After 50 minutes, prompt students to make finishing touches as each student in the group presents information that they've contributed and asks for feedback.  Remind students to check the rubric together to adjust or add any missing elements.  At the 60 minute mark, have students share the pages with the teacher. 

    Wrap up:

    In the last five to ten minutes of instructional time, have groups share out highlights of their brochures or interesting facts that members of their team found.  If you have an Apple TV, they can connect the iPads and show off their work.  Provide positive feedback and observations of effective teamwork.  Explain that for the next class period, each student will write their claim and support it with evidence and reasoning.

    Step 4 - Assessments

    Step 4 Assessments

    The collection of information from each group will be assessed on a checklist by the teacher, using the expectations given.  Feedback will be given in a question format (for example, "how does this connect with your point?").  Students will receive peer feedback on their CERs and adjust them accordingly. 

    The next lesson can be flipping to the other side of the debate (examining the Pages designed by other groups, then writing a CER for the other side), a socratic seminar discussion, designing posters or brochures with information to back up an opinion on the issue, or a continuation of this lesson to fine-tune opinion writing.