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Data Interpretation Lesson

Social Studies Lessons for High School is designed for social studies teachers to use with their government and history courses. It was developed in response to a shift in education throughout our country: a move away from rote memorization and toward the critical thinking skills necessary for many of the new performance assessment programs.

Each lesson will enable teachers to teach seven specific critical thinking skills in a step-by-step process. The information has been adapted for old media and new media formats. Web sites will be provided that will allow teachers to choose the most appropriate resource for the selected activity. All selections can be copied for classroom use. Teachers may adapt activities to allow students to complete assignments via the web.

Bob Black is former Teachers Network web mentor. He is a social studies teacher at the Harbor City Learning Center, located across the street from the historic Edgar Allen Poe House  in Baltimore, MD.

Lesson Plan

Students will use evidence and/or reason to support or refute ideas, issues, or positions.

Lesson Objectives 
Students will be able to:
  • Analyze an issue with opposing viewpoints.
  • Participate in a debate on helmet safety.
  • Write a letter to their state delegate stating their position on the helmet law.

Gather statistics from the Internet or other sources about motorcycle accident deaths and injuries. Seek specific information on the number of victims wearing helmets. Show these statistics on the overhead and generate a discussion. Suggested sources:

    Insurance Companies
    State Government
    State Department of Transportation
    State Police Department
    Motorcycle Helmet Manufacturers

Lesson Procedures
  1. Show students the proposed Helmet Law summary. Have students complete the Issue Analysis Template Sheet. Review student answers.
  2. Organize the class into two groups. Have one group take the position of motorcycle riders who do not want to wear helmets; the other group will take the position of officials who want helmets to be required. Allow time for each side to further research their position.
  3. Have students conduct a debate on this issue.
Have students write a letter to their state government delegate expressing and supporting their position on the proposed Helmet Law.


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