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A Simple Teaching Strategy to Improve Comprehension and Spark Student Interest

By Adam Waxler

As a history teacher my students must deal with lots of opinions. As I tell my students, "There are not always right and wrong answers in social studies...what is important is how you back up, or support, your answer."

By having students make an argument and support their argument, they are not only addressing higher order thinking skills, but it is also a great way to spark student interest in a topic. As teachers know, sparking student interest in a topic is extremely important, but can also be a great challenge.

Fortunately, it is sometimes the simplest teaching strategies that can provide students with the most success. A great, and simple, teaching strategy to help students support their opinions with facts is known as the Two Column Opinion-Proof Chart. This simple teaching strategy will address higher order-thinking skills as well as spark student interest in a topic. Not only that, by the Two Column Opinion-Proof chart can be a great tool to improve reading comprehension as well.

A two column chart can be easily set up by having students fold a piece a paper in half vertically (hot-dog style). Have students label the left column "Opinion" and the right column "Proof". The teacher can then assign an opinion or have the students choose an opinion for themselves and write it down in left column. Students must then support their opinion in right column using whatever resource or resources the teacher chooses such as textbook reading, internet, video, or newspaper.
Not only does this teaching strategy help improve comprehension and spark student interest, but students can then use their Opinion-Proof charts to write persuasive essays, newspaper editorials, letters, or even set up classroom debates.

For more teaching tips that you can start applying to your very next class make sure read 52 Teaching Tips @

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