Examining Two Sides of the Book Banning Argument

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SWBAT identify claims made on two sides of an argument and begin to develop their own opinions on the subject.

Big Idea

Taking sides on an issue involves evaluating claims.

Latin Roots Warm Up

10 minutes

This is our daily warm up, wherein students work with two or three Latin roots per day.  The resource that I use to get my roots is Perfection Learning's Everyday Words from Classic Origins.
Every day, when the students arrive, I have two Latin roots on the SmartBoard.  Their job is to generate as many words as they can that contain the roots, and they try to guess what the root means.  After I give them about five minutes, we share words and I tell them what the root means.

The students compile these daily activities in their class journals.  After every twelve roots, they take a test on the roots themselves and a set of words that contains them.

Opening Question

10 minutes

The question that I asked students is simple: Is it ever OK to ban books?

The students were surprisingly supportive of banning books with inappropriate content or anti-religious themes (Note: our area is predominantly conservative.)  While one or two students seemed to support the idea, "If you don't like it, don't read it," most seemed kind of indifferent to book challenging.

Working with the Ideas

30 minutes

In this activity, students are assigned a "side" in the book censorship debate.  The readings that I use come out of the William and Mary series, "Persuasion."  One article is by Phyllis Shlafley and it argues that, since libraries and other public institutions are funded by taxpayer money, the taxpayers should have a say in what is featured in them.  The other article is a position paper by the American Library Association (the sponsor of National Banned Books Week.)

After the students have read and annotated the articles (which in this case means that they took notes on post its or in their composition books, I put them together with others who read the same article (in effect, forming an "expert group.")  They summarize and present the main points of their articles.

Exit Ticket

5 minutes

At the end of class, I asked students to answer the exit ticket question:

Exit Ticket Question:  After considering the arguments on both sides, with which author do you agree?  Cite reasons and support for your answer.

Through their answers, I am able to see who is thinking about the issues,and how is having a more formulaic, less considered reaction.  Kids, obviously, would like to have control over what they read, but I want them to understand both sides.