Teaching Strategy

Value Lines

Community Inquiry
Grade Level


Students take a stance on a topic related to the central text and listen while classmates explain their stances.


After reading


Value Line teaches students to question the text and deepens comprehension through observing and listening to others. The strategy incorporates movement, which can enhance student understanding and participation. By building in the opportunity to change one’s stance, students see that personal positions and questions related to the text evolve as comprehension increases.


  1. Choose a central text.
  2. After students read the text as a class, in small groups or independently, provide students with a value judgment connected to the text.
  3. Designate a “value line” in the classroom. Assign one side for those who agree strongly, the other for those who disagree strongly, and a space in the middle for those whose opinions lie in between.
  4. Ask students to take a stand relative to the value line at the count of three.
  5. Invite students to partner with someone who disagrees with their stance and discuss their positions with these questions:
    • Why do you think that?
    • How would you explain that?
    • What’s the evidence to support that?
    • How can you persuade me to think that too?
    • What would you have done in that situation?
  6. After individual student discussions, debrief the value judgment as a whole class.
  7. Revisit the central text.
  8. Ask students to take a stand again, using the same statement. Some students may return to the same location on the value line. Some may change position.
  9. Invite students to select a different partner and talk about why they chose the stance they did.
  10. Debrief the process again with the whole group, focusing on reasons for keeping or changing position.
  11. Have students quick write or draw about the process.

English language learners

Verbal interaction is central to developing language proficiency. Value Line provides students an authentic opportunity for meaningful conversation and verbal interaction in English. Reading and rereading the same text increases reading comprehension for all students.

Connection to anti-bias education

In an anti-bias classroom, each student must feel valued, accepted and validated. Value Line supports rich discussions about divergent opinion and experiences. It enhances understanding and allows students to adjust their thinking in response to additional information. This strategy illustrates how diversity enriches a team. 

Sample Value Line judgments:

Text: The Crocodile and the Ghost Bat have a Hullabaloo
The crocodile is too sensitive.
The ghost bat is mean.
Text: Old Joe and the Carpenter
Joe is right to want to build a fence.
The bridge was a perfect solution to the fight between Old Joe and the carpenter.