Teach Controversial Topics in the Classroom with Issues & Controversies

Teach Controversial Topics in the Classroom with Issues & Controversies

Teacher using the Enhanced Lessons from Infobase's Issues & Controversies in her classroom

In an era of increasing polarization, critical-thinking skills are more essential than ever. Educators can use controversial issues in the news to help students develop these skills by providing reliable information, presenting both sides of the argument fairly, and encouraging learners to reach their own conclusions and communicate their ideas effectively and independently. But, with so many potential approaches to introducing these topics, where can an educator start?

Issues & Controversies can help. Winner of eight major awards, including Gold distinction in the 2021 Modern Library Awards (MLAs), this in-depth, educational database features hundreds of original and authoritative pro/con articles on contemporary issues designed to promote thought-provoking debate and discussions. Every article links directly to a wide range of supplemental resources—editorials, primary sources, political cartoons, court case summaries, videos, timelines, infographics, breaking news stories, and more—that students can access quickly and easily. 

One of Issues & Controversies’ exclusive features is the Enhanced Lessons for Educators on selected topics to extend the lesson beyond the articles. Enhanced Lessons provide step-by-step lesson plans that show educators how to present controversial issues to students, guide them in their research, and conduct debates and discussions, as well as how to access, use, and integrate the many resources in the database into their lessons. We’re pleased to announce that these Enhanced Lessons have been completely overhauled and revamped, giving educators everything they need to create engaging, effective, and meaningful learning experiences for students as they explore these critically important issues in contemporary life.

Enhanced Lessons Help Educators Present Controversial Topics

Updates to the Enhanced Lessons for Educators include:

  • Updated overview essays: events and background from the Trump and Biden administrations have been added, along with U.S. Supreme Court decisions, laws, and more relating to the issues covered in the essays
  • New resources, including new articles, primary sources, and Open to Debate Foundation videos 
  • New printable activity handouts in PDF format, including many “Extend the Lesson” assignments for students, as well as new self-assessments.

Every Enhanced Lesson features discussion questions that will spark student interest, foster deeper engagement, and enhance critical-thinking skills, providing educators with all the materials they need to present controversial subjects in the classroom in a clear, objective, and straightforward manner that connects directly to the curriculum and respects students’ differing viewpoints and backgrounds.

What You Can Find in Issues & Controversies’ Enhanced Lessons for Educators

Each Enhanced Lesson includes the following elements:

  • Overview: a short essay summarizing the issue in clear, direct prose that gives users a quick understanding of the topic and the competing perspectives surrounding it
  • Learning Objectives: a quick, at-a-glance breakdown of what the lesson covers
  • Resources: provides all the essential materials on the topic available in the Issues & Controversies database for instructors/students to read and review, each one highlighted and linked for quick and easy access
  • Procedure: guides for teachers on how to introduce the issue, present the lesson, and steer students’ research and activities
  • Assessment: lists the main criteria for educators to use when evaluating students’ participation and performance
  • Discussion Questions: a wide-ranging series of questions for instructors to pose students to spark critical thinking, spur classroom debate and discussion, and inspire further research
  • Extend the Lesson: a counterfactual exercise prompting students to imagine alternative scenarios, think more deeply about the issue, and recognize and respect competing points of view
  • Activity Handouts: a set of original PDFs that can be printed out, featuring a broad array of projects, activities, and worksheets that educators can assign students to complete individually or in a group, along with an assessment that teachers can use to gauge students’ progress, advancement, and retention of key facts and concepts.

Enhanced Lessons for Educators cover the following issues:

  • Abortion & Reproductive Rights
  • Animal Rights
  • Capital Punishment
  • Censorship & Freedom of Information
  • Energy, Environment & Climate Change
  • Gun Control
  • Health Care
  • Immigration
  • LGBT Rights
  • Race, Racial Profiling & Anti-racism
  • Religion in Public Schools
  • And more!

Issues & Controversies users can find the Enhanced Lessons by clicking on “Instructional Resources” on the right rail of the homepage and looking for the section titled “Enhanced Lessons for Educators.” They can also find them from any page in the database via the three-line drop-down menu on the top left corner of the screen.

Where to find the instructional resources on Infobase's Issues & Controversies database

New Open to Debate Foundation Videos

Along with the updated Enhanced Lessons for Educators, Issues & Controversies has added many new Oxford-style debate videos from the renowned Open to Debate Foundation Series. The database now features more than 200 of these debate videos. The new debates cover numerous topics, including: 

  • Will Artificial Intelligence Do More Harm Than Good?
  • Do Unions Work for the Economy?
  • Should the British Monarchy Be Abolished?
  • Should We Search for Extraterrestrial Life?
  • Should the SAT Be Erased?

Artificial intelligence (AI) topic in Infobase's Issues & Controversies database

These compelling, full-length debate videos feature some of the most prominent political figures, journalists, academics, and experts in the United States and throughout the world and cover a wide range of crucial topics in areas such as crime, law, and justice; economy and business; education; energy and the environment; families and youth; global issues and world affairs; government and politics; health and medicine; race, rights, and liberties; science and technology; and society and culture.

Check out the revamped Enhanced Lessons and debate videos today with a FREE TRIAL of Issues & Controversies!

What Is Issues & Controversies?

The award-winning Issues & Controversies database helps researchers understand today’s crucial issues by exploring hundreds of hot topics in politics, government, business, society, education, and popular culture. Updated weekly, with an extensive backfile, Issues & Controversies offers in-depth articles—each presenting both sides of an issue clearly, coherently, and without bias—made to inspire thought-provoking debates. Its straightforward presentation of the key facts, arguments, history, and current context of today’s most important and timely issues makes the database an ideal resource for research papers, debate preparation, and persuasive writing assignments.

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