Civil Discourse Lesson

Project 2: Civil Discourse

Day 1: Introduction of Topic

Journal: Of all the arguments you have waged, throughout your life, how many times have you actually changed a mind?

After students have written about the journal topic we will discuss their responses and then go into a presentation over civil discourse.

The students will be required to actively participate in the presentation and take notes on important points.

Topic for Group Discussion: Immigration and the Wall between the United States and Mexico

Day 2: Establishing Groups & Researching Topic

Students will break up into groups of four.  After the groups have been established I will number everyone off and then form four groups for article research. I will use the following links for articles to give each group:

After the students have read and analyzed their assigned articles they will write the three most important facts about their articles on an index card to be presented to their original groups.

Day 3: Formal Group Discussion

Journal: Discuss your personal habits regarding social media. Have you ever unfriended someone because they disagreed with you? Have you ever engaged in uncivil communication on social media? Has someone ever attacked you for your beliefs?

After students have answered the journal we will move into an activity using the previous day’s article analysis. Using the analytical roles strategy from the article by Doublett and Hockett I will let students go back to their original groups from yesterday. They will each be given a role to play within their group to keep the task and conversation on topic.

Group Roles:

Director- Gathers information to help shed light on the actual issue.  It is their responsibility to keep the group conversation moving.

Philosopher- relates the events of the key players involved. It is their responsibility to keep the group on task.

Detective- Search the texts for the more important aspects of the issue. It is their responsibility to make sure that group members return to the text for evidence if need be.

Lawyer- Gather evidence that either supports or refute the claim. It is their responsibility to make sure all sides of the issue are examined.

The students will come back to the whole class for the last ten minutes or so to discuss things they came up with in their groups.

Day 4: Final Reflections

Students will be asked to write a one page reflection piece. They will need to answer two questions in their reflection:

One Page Reflection Topic:

Should we have a wall between the United States and Mexico? Do you think the wall will ever become reality? Why or Why not?

Students will write about a page and then they will answer questions on a class discussion board about their group discussions:

Online Discussion Board Questions:

Did the roles make conversation easier within the group? Did you feel more comfortable talking about the issue within the parameters? Did any of the conversation change your opinions about your group members or the issue you were talking about?

Through these experiences they will have practiced civil discourse face-to-face and online.

Final summary: We will go back to the original presentation and discuss why civil discourse is important.

Goal: Students will walk away understanding why civil discourse is important and they will also understand how to work in groups effectively for the future.




Balaji, Murali. “What’s Driving Polarization?” The Huffington Post,, 3 June 2017,

Camosy, Charles C. “5 Tips for Creating Civil Discourse in an Era of Polarization.” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 19 July 2012,

Doubet, Kristina J. and Jessica A. Hockett. “Classroom Discourse as Civil Discourse.” Educational Leadership, vol. 75, no. 3, 01 Nov. 2017, pp. 56-60. EBSCOhost,

LESKES, ANDREA. “A Plea for Civil Discourse.” Liberal Education, vol. 99, no. 4, Fall2013, p. 44. EBSCOhost,

Linvill, Darren L. and Andrew S. Pyle. “Inquiry-Based Civil Discourse Education.” Communication Teacher, vol. 31, no. 4, 01 Jan. 2017, pp. 214-219. EBSCOhost,

Sweeney, Camille, and Josh Gosfield. “To Change People’s Minds, Stop Fighting.” Observer, Observer, 13 Oct. 2016,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s