Teaching students to discuss controversial issues

The Discussion Project, designed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a two-hour online interactive workshop focusing on the Structured Academic Controversy and the power of discussion in the new era of AI.

Learn to facilitate discussions on controversial issues and address AI in education.

The Structured Academic Controversy teaches students to consider and discuss different perspectives on a controversial issue. This protocol helps students build critical thinking skills and learn to discuss in a productive and civil manner.

This workshop delivers 2 valuable protocols to foster classroom discussion. To learn about the additional 18, check out our full course offering for Grades 6-12 and  Higher Education instructors and leaders.

After the workshop you’ll be able to:

  • Define “discussion” in relation to other types of student talk.
  • Implement an easy student share protocol.
  • Plan and facilitate a Structured Academic Controversy either in person or online.
  • Implement a Super Statement discussion protocol that requires synthesis of key concepts.
  • Begin conversations with your colleagues about the emerging place of AI in the classroom and the resulting centrality of discussion.
  • Understand key insights on the role of discussion in the new era of AI in education.


A Discussion Project Workshop –The Structured Academic Controversy

The Discussion Project’s highly interactive workshop, with a focus on Structured Academic Controversy, teaches instructors a tried-and-true method for having students discuss controversial issues in a safe and productive manner. The workshop also addresses the role of discussion in the new era of AI in learning environments.

2 hour online workshop focusing on Student Academic Controversy and AI in the classroom.

Educators in grades 6-12 and instructors in higher education. Enroll as an individual, with your colleagues or entire department.

Participants will receive a The Discussion Project Certificate of Completion which may be used for continuing education credit (2 hours).

No workshops currently scheduled.



If you’d like to set up a workshop for your school, team or district, please contact us for flexible dates and times.

Ready to teach students how to discuss controversial issues?

Be on the leading edge in understanding how AI can help students work through the challenges of Structured Academic Controversy.

Register today

What is Structured Academic Controversy (SAC)?

Structured Academic Controversy is a cooperative learning and discussion structure that teaches students to consider different perspectives on a controversial issue. In a SAC, students read closely, think critically, assemble arguments, listen, and speak as they engage with a controversial issue.

A SAC is not a debate; it is a discussion. Through implementation, it teaches the skills of discussion, requiring and guiding students to listen carefully and build a more nuanced understanding about an authentically engaging issue.


What our professional learners say

Favicon for The Discussion Project website

Emily Miller

Social Studies Teacher, Madison Metropolitan School District

“I just want to thank you again for running such an AMAZING workshop. I’m still so jazzed that I had to send an email. Everything was masterfully done- from the tightly organized succession of protocols and activities to the seamless flow of reflection and practice and the meticulous spiral of handouts. And of course, it was extra nice to be surrounded by such a community of professionals– Your workshop brought out the best in everyone and created that community! What a wonderful way to send us off into summer– excited to go back into the classroom and apply all that we learned with the Discussion Project.”
Favicon for The Discussion Project website

Lynn Stenroos

Waunakee Community School District

“Take this course. Don’t deliberate, just sign up and commit to attending all 3 days. I gained a wealth of information and practical ideas for elevating the levels of discussion including the why, what, and how to conduct effective discussion in the classroom. The structure and format of the course is one of the best I have attended. The manner in which the presenters maintained fidelity to the processes and served as models was exemplary. I feel that our time wasn’t just honored but was maximized so that every participant was able to walk away with a wealth of new, practical ideas to implement in our classrooms/spaces. Thank you for your volumes of wisdom that you shared with us. I so appreciate the high level of engagement and being able to actually take part in the exercises rather than be shown them or read about them. As you make clear in practice and in theory: the person doing the work is the person doing the learning. ”

Ready to learn a new set of skills?



Enroll today