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Jumbo ‘Spectra’ Worksheets for Narrowing Topics and Locating Positions

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In this activity, students use a pair of worksheets to create a visual mapping of research questions to help them focus their topic and their inquiry and identify positions beyond "yes" and "no."

Activity title: Jumbo “Spectra” Worksheets For (1) Narrowing Topics & (2) Locating Positions

Author: Ethan Plaut (Adapted from an activity by Marvin Diogenes)

Course: PWR 1 & PWR 2

Schedule (time in the quarter): I created the first worksheet for use early in the TiC, the second for early in the RBA (after students have collected multiple sources), but they can be used at various times.

Activity length: Flexible. I devoted approximately 40 minutes per worksheet.​

Activity goals:

  • Develop better understanding of the appropriate scope of paper topics and research questions.
  • Brainstorm, narrow, and refine possible topics and questions for self and peers.
  • Move from simplified Yes & No argumentation to more nuanced positions.
  • Locate various sources’ positions within and outside a spectrum from “yes” to “no.”
  • Identify various possible positions students might take on their issues.

Activity Details: See handout.  

Editor's Note: This activity works well on tabloid-sized paper (available in Sweet office supplies) and also is easily adapted for Google jamboard.

(originally shared winter quarter 2015)