Use Paired Texts to Explore Pros and Cons

The Common Core requires us to switch from writing personal essays built on our opinions and experience to text-based essays that respond to a prompt using evidence from paired texts.

Engage your students in critical thinking about controversial topics like the Death Penalty and Obamacare by reading articles written on both sides of the debate.  Use these paired texts as the readings that are related to  an essay prompt that follows the style and format of the TASC essay questions.

Explore the Core Questions and the Top 10 Pros and Cons for various compelling subjects.  Copy and paste text into MSWord and print it for your students or use this resource in a computer lab.

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About Shannon Allen

Shannon specializes in literacy instruction for struggling adolescent and adult learners. Shannon has worked in adult literacy since 2002 and with the LAC since 2006. She loves her work and this field!

7 thoughts on “Use Paired Texts to Explore Pros and Cons

  1. I wonder if this site could be used in high-level ESOL classes. It seems that many of the pro/con topics there would be interesting for our students. The immigration section (, especially, has a number of questions that addressed in national conversations. One concern would be whether the readings are too complex for most ESOL classrooms, but I wonder if it is possible to excerpt and abridge the readings in order to make them more accessible.

    For example, on the question of whether Is Illegal Immigration an Economic Burden to America? (, the following pro and con positions could be given:

    Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, researchers at the Heritage Foundation, stated:

    “In 2010, the average unlawful immigrant household received around $24,721 in government benefits and services while paying some $10,334 in taxes.

    Danny Vinik, writer at The New Republic, wrote:

    “Many undocumented immigrants pay taxes, use government services and collect benefits. Most importantly, undocumented immigrants contribute to the economy. Labor economists agree that there are net gains to having a larger labor supply.”

    Would it be possible to plan a discussion activity around the central questions, help students access vocabulary/language in these quotes, then plan a writing activity as an extension?

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    1. I definitely think this site can be used with high-level ESOL classes. Vocabulary building will also be part of the lesson. I plan on using with my advanced-level ESOL class.

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  2. Good site for history, reading ,and writing. also good for starter discussions on early history as well as present day.

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  3. Love this site. It eliminates the need for teachers to find pro and con information themselves . It is all there! I can also see it being used in advanced ESL for discussion or even to have debates.

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  4. I can’t wait to utilize this website in my ABE, Pre TASC and TASC level classes. I have spent endless hours researching materials and articles to plan writing lessons relevant to the TASC argumentative essay. This website just became my new shortcut! Thank you.

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  5. I have had success in staging debates in my ESOL classes; this is an excellent resource for pro and con perspectives on a multitude of subjects.

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