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May 26, 2016

Take a poll, debate the issue: Gun policy

Where do students stand on gun policy? In this lesson plan, have students take a poll before and after they debate the issue to see if their views change.


Social studies, history, government

Estimated Time

One to two 50-minute classes

Grade Level



As a warm-up, use this Kahoot survey to allow students to share their preliminary views on gun control vs. gun rights. The teacher should go here on his or her computer and click on the “Player vs. Player” mode. Each student will require a smartphone, laptop, or computer, and should visit the Kahoot website and enter the Game PIN appearing at the top of the teacher’s screen. Students should be able to see the teacher’s screen throughout. It is the teacher’s responsibility to click to the next question on his or her computer once each student has answered.

  1. Visit the PBS Election Central website’s interactive map and click on “Candidates & Issues” on the bottom right of the screen. Read the section entitled “Gun Rights vs. Gun Control” to become familiarized with both sides of the issue.
  2. View the three remaining candidates’ quotes on gun policy by selecting their names in the “Gun Rights vs. Gun Control” section. Does the candidate you support share your views?
  3. Debate gun policy with your classmates in a Socratic Seminar (group discussion focusing on thoughtful and respectful responses in which the teacher only interjects to facilitate the conversation) using the following questions:

Grades 7-9: Do you think Americans should have the right to bear arms? What restrictions should be placed on gun ownership?

Grades 10-12: Examine the language of the Second Amendment using the interactive Constitution found here. Does a strict reading imply that private citizens have the right to own guns?

For all age groups: Write down 3-5 bullet points defending your position after the debate once you know where you stand. Then, take the Kahoot survey above again. Did your views change? Did overall class opinion change? If so, why? Discuss as a class.

Extension Activities

VIDEO: Hear what kids from PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs had to say after the Newtown, CT school shooting.

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  • Standards

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    Relevant National Standards:
      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.1.B Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.1.B Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.1.B Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.1.B Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision-making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

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