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Gotham Gazette072008 Grant Winner       << Back to all Grant Winners
Student Editorials: Young People’s Perspectives on Current Issues

Subject:English Language Arts, Journalism, Writing

Grade Level: 9-12

Materials: Computer use for internet searches and word processing (see web links for specific articles).

About: This project asks students to read news articles related to current controversial issues that directly affect their lives. By researching and responding to various articles, they consider the complexity and various perspectives surrounding debates about the issue. At the end of the unit, they write their own editorial piece that constructs an argument drawing from their research.

Students read and research news articles that analyze current events which directly influence their lives such as cell phone bans in schools, teen curfews, and police presence in schools. Researching and discussing these topics motivates them to create their own informed perspective on the issue substantiated by their research.

One of the final products students will complete is a 2-3 page editorial that convincingly constructs an argument based on their own research. Exemplary editorials will be published in the school’s newspaper.

Young people’s perspectives on issues affecting them are often not considered seriously, or not heard at all. This project substantiates students’ opinions about current youth issues, and it requires students to construct informed and articulate perspectives. This substantially contributes to students’ achievement because they not only become more informed about current events, but they also practice important skills of researching and constructing a persuasive argument based on evidence.

This project does require computer use outside of class. If students are unable to complete internet searches on their own time, teachers may want to provide additional hard copies of articles on the issues they choose to focus on.

Teachers may also choose to take additional time on each lesson, and spend more time on homework assignments. Teachers will need to determine how long they will spend on the writing process for the final product.

 Objectives
Students will be able to read, understand, and summarize the main points of an argument.
Students will be able to understand the subtleties of an author’s tone about their subject.
Students will be able to analyze and carefully criticize the legitimacy and strength of reasons authors use to substantiate their argument. (reasoning habit of mind)
Students will be able to consider several perspectives on an issue. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to use the web to research (habit of mind) various sources in constructing their own argument.
Students will be able to create an argument based on research that considers various perspectives and is substantiated by evidence. (reasoning, research, and interpretation habits of mind)

Websites
“Teen Curfew?” by Jennifer Morron, March 10, 2006 issue of The Gotham Gazette

This is one current issue we will read, discuss, and debate in class. If students choose, this can be the topic they cover for their final product, an editorial piece

http://gothamgazette.com/article/children/20060310/2/1783
“Cell Phone Ban Angers Students” by Ilya Arbit and David Schmutzer, May 22, 2006 issue of The Gotham Gazette

This is one current issue we will read, discuss, and debate in class. If students choose, this can be the topic they cover for their final product, an editorial piece.

http://gothamgazette.com/article/children/20060522/2/1861
“Cops in High Schools” by Ilya Arbit, December 6, 2006 issue of The Gotham Gazette

This is one current issue we will read, discuss, and debate in class. If students choose, this can be the topic they cover for their final product, an editorial piece.

http://gothamgazette.com/article/children/20061206/2/2051
“School Trips Go Commercial” by Marcia Biederman, July 6, 2004 issue of The Gotham Gazette

This is one current issue we will read, discuss, and debate in class. If students choose, this can be the topic they cover for their final product, an editorial piece.

http://gothamgazette.com/article/education/2004706/6/1027
New York Times: research source for articles related to issues (other periodicals/resources, especially New York newspapers, are potential sources)
http://nytimes.com

Standards
Students will read, write, listen, and speak for information and understanding.
9-12
English Language Arts
Listening and reading to acquire information and understanding involves collecting data, facts and ideas; discovering relationships, concepts, and generalizations; and using knowledge from oral, written and electronic sources.
9-12
English Language Arts
Communicating and writing to acquire and transmit information requires asking questions, applying information from one context to another and presenting the information clearly.
9-12
English Language Arts
Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical analysis and evaluation.
9-12
English Language Arts
During listening and reading activities, analysis and evaluation of experiences, ideas, information, and issues are used. This requires using evaluative criteria from a variety of perspectives and recognizing the difference in evaluations based on different sets of criteria.
9-12
English Language Arts
Speaking and writing for critical analysis and evaluation requires presenting opinions and judgments on experience, ideas, information and issues.
9-12
English Language Arts
Students will read, write, listen and speak for social interaction.
9-12
English Language Arts

Day 1: Exploring the issue of teen curfews
Objectives
Students will be able to read, understand, and summarize the main points of an argument.
Students will be able to understand the subtleties of an author’s tone about their subject. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to analyze and carefully criticize the legitimacy and strength of reasons authors use to substantiate their argument. (reasoning habit of mind)
Students will be able to consider several perspectives on an issue. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to use the web to research (habit of mind) various sources in constructing their own argument.
Materials
“Teen Curfew” by Jennifer Morron from The Gotham Gazette 3/10/06
3x5 notecards
paper
pencils/pens
Procedures
Do now: Assess prior knowledge.

Ask students to complete a quick write in which they answer the following questions: What is a curfew? Why would law enforcement want to impose a curfew? What are the possible benefits of creating a curfew? What are they possible drawbacks? Write for five minutes without stopping on any combination of these questions.

Discuss quick write as a class.
Read article aloud as a class. Answer any comprehension questions as you go to clear up confusion.
In small groups, complete the following:

1) Summarize the article; include 3-5 of its main points.

2) Create a T chart listing the pros and cons of instituting a teen curfew (must have at least two on each side).

3) Are the reasons the author gives for supporting or criticizing the issue substantiated? Why or why not?

4) What is the author’s tone? Is the article biased in any way?

Discuss answers as a class.
Informal assessment checkout: on a 3x5 notecard, respond with one of the following prompts about the article:

“I am still confused by…”

“I have a question about…”

“It’s interesting that…”

“I (dis)agree that…”

“One thing I’d like to know is…”

Homework
(Internet access required)

Go online and find another article related to this issue. Read it and complete the following:

1) Summarize the article in 5-7 sentences.

2) What is the author’s tone?

3) How does this article compare to the one we read in class? Would the authors agree or disagree? What new points does this article make?

Bring a copy of the article and your responses to class tomorrow.

Assessment
Both the informal assessment at the end of class and the homework serve as assessment tools.

Day 2: Exploring the issue of cell phone bans in schools
Objectives
Students will be able to read, understand, and summarize the main points of an argument.
Students will be able to understand the subtleties of an author’s tone about their subject.
Students will be able to analyze and carefully criticize the legitimacy and strength of reasons authors use to substantiate their argument. (reasoning habit of mind)
Students will be able to consider several perspectives on an issue. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to use the web to research (habit of mind) various sources in constructing their own argument.
Materials
“Cops in High Schools” by Ilya Arbit from The Gotham Gazette 12/06/06
3x5 notecards
paper
pencils/pens
Procedures
Do now: Assess prior knowledge.

Ask students to complete a quick write in which they answer the following questions:

Why does New York City have law enforcement present in city schools? What are the possible benefits and drawbacks of having cops in schools?

Write for five minutes without stopping on any combination of these questions.

Discuss quick write as a class.
Read article aloud as a class. Answer any comprehension questions as you go to clear up confusion.
In small groups, complete the following:

1) Summarize the article; include 3-5 of its main points.

2) Create a T chart listing the pros and cons of having police in schools (must have at least two on each side).

3) Are the reasons the author gives for supporting or criticizing the issue substantiated? Why or why not?

4) What is the author’s tone? Is the article biased in any way?

Discuss answers as a class.
Informal assessment checkout: on a 3x5 notecard, respond with one of the following prompts about the article:

“I am still confused by…”

“I have a question about…”

“It’s interesting that…”

“I (dis)agree that…”

“One thing I’d like to know is…”

Homework
(Internet access required)

Go online and find another article related to this issue. Read it and complete the following:

1) Summarize the article in 5-7 sentences.

2) What is the author’s tone?

3) How does this article compare to the one we read in class? Would the authors agree or disagree? What new points does this article make?

Bring a copy of the article and your responses to class tomorrow.

Assessment
Both the informal assessment at the end of class and the homework serve as assessment tools.

Day 3: Exploring the issue of police in schools
Objectives
Students will be able to read, understand, and summarize the main points of an argument.
Students will be able to understand the subtleties of an author’s tone about their subject.
Students will be able to analyze and carefully criticize the legitimacy and strength of reasons authors use to substantiate their argument. (reasoning habit of mind)
Students will be able to consider several perspectives on an issue. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to use the web to research (habit of mind) various sources in constructing their own argument.
Materials
“Cops in High Schools” by Ilya Arbit from The Gotham Gazette 12/06/06
3x5 notecards
paper
pencils/pens
Procedures
Do now: Assess prior knowledge.

Ask students to complete a quick write in which they answer the following questions:

Why does New York City have law enforcement present in city schools? What are the possible benefits and drawbacks of having cops in schools?

Write for five minutes without stopping on any combination of these questions.

Discuss quick write as a class.
Read article aloud as a class. Answer any comprehension questions as you go to clear up confusion.
In small groups, complete the following:

1) Summarize the article; include 3-5 of its main points.

2) Create a T chart listing the pros and cons of having police in schools (must have at least two on each side).

3) Are the reasons the author gives for supporting or criticizing the issue substantiated? Why or why not?

4) What is the author’s tone? Is the article biased in any way?

Discuss answers as a class.
Informal assessment checkout: on a 3x5 notecard, respond with one of the following prompts about the article:

“I am still confused by…”

“I have a question about…”

“It’s interesting that…”

“I (dis)agree that…”

“One thing I’d like to know is…”

Homework
(Internet access required)

Go online and find another article related to this issue. Read it and complete the following:

1) Summarize the article in 5-7 sentences.

2) What is the author’s tone?

3) How does this article compare to the one we read in class? Would the authors agree or disagree? What new points does this article make?

Bring a copy of the article and your responses to class tomorrow.

Assessment
Both the informal assessment at the end of class and the homework serve as assessment tools.

Day 4: Exploring the issue of corporate funding for school fieldtrips
Objectives
Students will be able to read, understand, and summarize the main points of an argument.
Students will be able to understand the subtleties of an author’s tone about their subject.
Students will be able to analyze and carefully criticize the legitimacy and strength of reasons authors use to substantiate their argument. (reasoning habit of mind)
Students will be able to consider several perspectives on an issue. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to use the web to research (habit of mind) various sources in constructing their own argument.
Materials
“School Trips Go Commercial” by Marcia Biederman from The Gotham Gazette 07/06/04
3x5 notecards
paper
pencils/pens
Procedures
Do now: Assess prior knowledge.

Ask students to complete a quick write in which they answer the following questions:

Should schools opt to go on fieldtrips that have corporate sponsors? Why or why not? What are the possible benefits and drawbacks of having a company pay for a fieldtrip (instead of going to a museum or a zoo for example)?

Write for five minutes without stopping on any combination of these questions.

Discuss quick write as a class.
Read article aloud as a class. Answer any comprehension questions as you go to clear up confusion.
In small groups, complete the following:

1) Summarize the article; include 3-5 of its main points.

2) Create a T chart listing the pros and cons of having corporate sponsors for school fieldtrips (must have at least two on each side).

3) Are the reasons the author gives for supporting or criticizing the issue substantiated? Why or why not?

4) What is the author’s tone? Is the article biased in any way?

Discuss answers as a class.
Informal assessment checkout: on a 3x5 notecard, respond with one of the following prompts about the article:

“I am still confused by…”

“I have a question about…”

“It’s interesting that…”

“I (dis)agree that…”

“One thing I’d like to know is…”

Homework
(Internet access required)

Go online and find another article related to this issue. Read it and complete the following:

1) Summarize the article in 5-7 sentences.

2) What is the author’s tone?

3) How does this article compare to the one we read in class? Would the authors agree or disagree? What new points does this article make?

Bring a copy of the article and your responses to class tomorrow.

Assessment
Both the informal assessment at the end of class and the homework serve as assessment tools.

Day 5: Student editorial/final project
Objectives
Students will be able to consider several perspectives on an issue. (interpretation habit of mind)
Students will be able to create an argument based on research that considers various perspectives and is substantiated by evidence. (reasoning, research, and interpretation habits of mind)
Materials
Articles from previous four lessons.
Homework assignments from previous lessons.
Paper & pen/pencil
Eventually a computer for internet research and word processing will be needed.
Procedures
Do now:

Which of the topics we’ve discussed recently in class (teen curfews, fieldtrips, cops in schools, or cell phone bans) interests you most? Why? What side of the issue’s argument do you agree with? Why?

Introduce final assessment:

Create a 2-3 page typed paper that constructs a well-supported and well-organized argument about an issue of your choice (from those discussed in class). In your paper, you will need to use evidence from three sources to support your position (the class article, the article you found for homework, and one additional source). You will also need to create a counter argument that fully addresses the other side of the argument. All papers should be in MLA format with proper citation and a works cited page.

Students review two articles (class article and previous homework article) on the topic of their choice and create a basic outline for the project. Their homework will be to research one additional article to include as a source for their paper.
Complete writing process: brainstorm, outline, first draft (edit and revise), second draft (edit and revise), final draft. Teachers determine how much additional class time to spend on this and how to construct the editing process according to class practices.
Homework
Complete additional research and final product (time spent on this will vary depending on how lessons have gone up until now).
Assessment
Final project described in procedure #2. Selected final drafts appear in the school newspaper.

Amy Matthusen

amy.matthusen@gmail.com

Bronx Academy of Letters
339 Morris Avenue
Bronx, NY 10451

Amy Matthusen studied Comparative Literature and Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She has an MA in English Literature from the University of Oregon, where she taught college composition. As a New York City Teaching Fellow, she earned a Master of Science for Teaching English from Pace University. Amy previously worked in publishing as a Marketing Manager at Routledge and a Fiction Editor at The Northwest Review. She has been teaching literature in the south Bronx for four years.

 

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