Take a Stand | Facing History & Ourselves
Students move around the classroom in conversation with each other. One student looks directly into the camera with a smile on their face.

Take a Stand

Students practice debate and perspective taking by taking a stand on a controversial statement.


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At a Glance

activity copy


English — US


  • Advisory
  • Civics & Citizenship
  • English & Language Arts
  • History
  • Social Studies


  • Culture & Identity
  • Equity & Inclusion


About This Activity

This routine encourages debate, active listening, and perspective taking by asking students to take a stand on one or more controversial statements. Choose statements that your students will care about and that will elicit a range of responses.

Preparing to Teach

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Steps for Implementation

Create a list of statements that will generate a range of opinions from your students. Project or say the first statement and have students respond in a way that works for your classroom space. They can raise their hand a little (I agree a bit) to all the way (I strongly agree), and keep their hand down to disagree. Alternatively, you can use the Barometer teaching strategy and have students line up along a continuum if you have the space to do so. Students can also sit/stand to indicate their opinion. Use their responses to spark small-group or class discussion. Sample statements include those below. Your students will most likely come up with great ones to use as well!

  • The Marvel Universe is superior to the DC Universe.
  • Snapchat is superior to Instagram.
  • Domino’s beats Papa John's any day (or two restaurants/foods in your region).
  • Soccer is more exciting than football. 
  • It’s important to learn a second language. 
  • The voting age in the United States should be 16.


Create a list of statements that will generate a range of opinions from your students. Use Poll Everywhere, Mentimeter, or another online polling tool to create a multiple-choice poll with the statements. Students can respond to the poll by using their phones or web browsers. Depending on the statements you choose, you might have four options ranging from “Yes! I strongly agree!” to “Nope, I strongly disagree!” When setting up your poll, choose to reveal the results after everyone has responded so students aren’t influenced by each other’s opinions. Use the statements above and then invite students to submit their own ideas for future Take a Stand polls. Discuss the results as a class using the chat or by having students unmute to speak.

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Facing History & Ourselves is designed for educators who want to help students explore identity, think critically, grow emotionally, act ethically, and participate in civic life. It’s hard work, so we’ve developed some go-to professional learning opportunities to help you along the way.

Using the strategies from Facing History is almost like an awakening.
— Claudia Bautista, Santa Monica, Calif