Take a stand - Large

Can students inspire change in public policy?

Students hold great potential for change. Yet, public policy decisions are hardly (if ever!) influenced by the creativity, interest, and experience of our smallest citizens. In this project, students will take a stand in support of a public policy issue that matters to them. They will learn about all sides of several topics like education and the environment. Through respectful discourse, they will construct and articulate well-researched positions on a topic of their choice with an inspirational podcast!

Imagine if all our students could make their voices heard and become the changemakers our world needs. What a way to make a difference in the world!

Project Plan and Resources

Learning Targets


Lesson 1: Students learn tolerance for people with different perspectives.

Lesson 2: Students apply tolerance to relevant issues and express their learning through art.

Lesson 3: Students research both sides of an issue to construct arguments for a debate.

Lesson 4: Students debate clearly and respectfully. 

Lesson 5: Students include elements of good storytelling in a podcast script. 

Lesson 6: Students record and review their podcasts. 

Lesson 7: Students understand how to revise and refine their podcasts. 

Lesson 8: Students share their perspectives with an authentic audience.

For lesson descriptions, download the project overview.

For K–8 content connections, download the content correlations.

Online Resources

Interactive Games and Activities

  • Agree to Disagree Activity
  • Class Brainstorming Activity
  • Create a Debate Activity
  • Debate Self-Evaluation Tool
  • Flex Your Thinking Questionnaire
  • Scale Tracing Sheet
  • The GrEAT DebATE Activity*
  • Two Sides Debate Activity
  • Which Side Are You On?

Websites and Videos

  • Anchor.fm
  • Blue Dress / White Dress Slider
  • But Why Podcast
  • Ideas for Debate Topics
  • Laurel / Yanny Slider
  • Lines, Dots, and Doodles
  • Random Student Generator
  • Science of the Dress Article
  • Short and Curly Podcast
  • Starting Your Podcast: A Guide for Students
  • The Cramazingly Incredifun Sugarcrash Kids Podcast
  • Tumble Podcast
  • Video: Anchor Tutorial
  • Video: Audacity Tip – Adding Background Music
  • Video: Audacity: How to record, edit and export your podcast
  • Video: How to Create a Podcast Using Audacity
  • Video: Kid President is Over It!
  • Video: Kids Try 100 Years of School Lunches
  • Video: Round Trip
  • Video: Why you think you’re right — even if you’re wrong
  • Video: Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary about School Lunch
  • What if World Podcast
  • Wow in the World Podcast
  • Yanny or Laurel? Strange Audio Clip Explained*

Additional Resources

  • Book List
  • Class Graph Diagram
  • Create a Debate Informational Sheet
  • Elements of a Good Podcast Checklist
  • Elements of Good Storytelling
  • Home Letter
  • Kid Safe Search Sites
  • Podcaster’s Checklist
  • Press Release
  • Reflection Journal
  • Soldier vs. Scout Mindset Poster*
  • Student Self-Assessment Rubric
  • Take a Stand Class Brainstorming Sheet
  • Teacher Assessment Rubric
  • The Tolerance Continuum
  • Tips and Tricks for Creating a Podcast
  • Tolerance Continuum with Scout Mindset
  • Two Sides to Every Issue Resource
  • Virtual Student Edition

All lessons include:

About the Author

Paul Solarz

4th Grade Teacher
Westgate Elementary School
Arlington Heights, IL

Each Blue Apple Project Includes:

Paul Solarz

4th Grade Teacher
Westgate Elementary School,
Arlington Heights, IL

Hi! I’m Paul Solarz and I’ve been teaching at Westgate Elementary School in Arlington Heights since 1999. I’m a vocal advocate for student-centered teaching practices and a focus on twenty-first century skills attainment. My students spend time each week pursuing personal interests during Passion Time (a.k.a. Genius Hour) and maintain personal ePortfolios of their work in class. I’ve published a book entitled, Learn Like a PIRATE which gives teachers ideas for empowering students to collaborate and become stronger leaders while effectively leading the classroom. In 2015, I was named a Top 50 Finalist for the Varkey GEMS Global Teacher Prize, and was also named the 2014 Educator of the Year by Illinois Computing Educators.