Purpose: Students identify ways to evaluate the pros and cons of different options.
1. Students recall what they know about pros and cons.
Write the following words and symbols on the board: “pros +” and “cons –.” Ask students to define “pros” and “cons.” (Students might respond: pros are positive factors or reasons for something; cons are negative factors or reasons against something.)
Discuss why it is important to consider pros and cons for options. If necessary, remind students that when they consider the pros and cons for options, they are weighing the options in order to determine their positive and negative aspects.
2. Students brainstorm pros and cons.
Indicate the list of options on the board, and ask students to give both the positive and negative aspects for each one. After each suggestion, ask if students can think of any others. Keep count of the number of pros and cons suggested by using + and – symbols after each option. For example, while discussing the option of having teammates stand on each other’s feet as they walk across the room, you might mark two + symbols to represent pros such as the following:
- It would satisfy the rule for the race.
- It would be challenging to do or fun to try.
You might mark four – symbols to represent the following cons:
- It would be very difficult to get across the room quickly.
- It would be difficult for teammates to keep their balance.
- It could hurt the teammate whose feet are being stood upon.
- The team would probably lose the race.
3. Students weigh pros and cons.
When your list is complete, ask students to identify the option that has the most pros and the fewest cons. (The winning option will probably be the one in which only one student crosses the floor, because it is most likely to have no – symbols.)
Acknowledge that in this case, the pros and cons are easy to identify. Explain that sometimes the problem is more difficult to solve because the options are not easy to identify and the pros and cons are not so obvious. Ask students what they might do in such a case. (Students might respond: ask for help from someone who has experienced the problem, consult a trusted adult.)