FCS HOT Topics: Good Idea or Bad Idea

One way to get students talking is to throw out a contentious topic because there are bound to be differing views!  I’ve taken some topics that I feel fit this category for both food and child development/parenting classes. FCS HOT Topics: Good Idea or Bad Idea has students looking at each topic and researching in more detail the good and bad components of it before sharing with the class. Not only is this an engaging assignment because it includes collaboration, communication and critical thinking, but it could be done weekly or quarterly and is tied to a writing assessment for those of you who need to include writing as part of your curriculum. The lists below obviously do not include every topic, but if you have a great topic that you believe should be included, please let me know by adding it to the comments.

Food Related Topics

  • School Vending Machines
  • Candy Sales by Clubs at School
  • Use of Pesticides on Food
  • Use of Artificial Flavors/Colors in Food
  • Price Gouging on Food
  • Genetically Modified Foods & Labeling
  • Sustainable Food Production Practices
  • Junk Food Taxes
  • Energy Drinks & Children/Teens

Child Development & Parenting Topics

  • Young Children & Screens
  • AI Nannies & Babysitters in Child Care
  • Boys and Dolls and/or Girls and Trucks
  • Imaginary Friends
  • Bed Sharing
  • Spanking
  • Unlimited Soda Consumption
  • Free Range Parenting
  • Extended Breast Feeding
  • Homeschooling
  • Vaccinations
  • Baby Piercings
  • Elimination Communication Potty Training
  • Allowances: With or Without Chores


  • Depending on your class size, assign one topic to an individual, pair or small group of students (no more than 3.
  • Each person or small group does their own research.  Then the group uses everyone’s research to create a presentation that answers the following criteria:
    • Title of Controversial Topic
    • What is controversy?
    • Why is it controversial?
    • What do those in favor of it say? Why is it a good idea? (PROS)–list as many as you can, but 3 minimum
    • What do those against it say? Why is it a bad idea? (CONS)–list as many as you can, but 3 minimum
  • NOTE:  If you are making this a weekly, monthly or quarterly assignment, be sure to make all of the due dates the same, but the sharing of topics and presentations can be spread over time.
  • Let’s say you decide to do this as a weekly activity.
    • Monday:  Individual or Group presents their findings without offering their position on the topic.  Audience takes notes for later use. Discussion can be added if desired in order to have audience participation that may offer additional ideas for both sides.
    • Tuesday:  Give students this day to think about their position.  Do they think this topic is a good idea or bad idea? (Rhetorical)
    • Wednesday or Thursday, the topic is presents as a bell ringer writing, journal writing or Collins writing assignment or assessment.
    • Friday:  After the teacher has graded all of the writings and tallied the positions of the class, offer the results as a “Higher or Lower” activity or hold until the end and share all of the results as a “Card Shark” game with class teams.



Photo by Mikhail Nilov

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