Stealing from CNN Makes for Good Lessons
Monday’s lesson went like gangbusters.
In case you don’t know what we’re talking about, it’s this lesson.
Students read aloud comments from CNN which ostensibly reacted to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “God Damn America” sermon and what most-famous-parishioner and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama should do about him. Then, they watch the sermon and argue amongst themselves.
The first period loved it. Half of the class thought Wright’s phrasing was outrageous and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The other half thought that it was reasonable, given the context. There was arguing even before we got to the comments read aloud.
Once the comments were read aloud, students were required to write their response to that comment on a sheet of binder paper, noting how effective and how fair that comment was.
Second period was more sedate, but most of the really high performing kids were absent. Fortunately, even though there wasn’t much talking or arguing — we finished a two-hour block with half an hour to spare, while the first period went into the passing period — their written responses were just as insightful as the first period.
Next time, I’ll get students to volunteer to read the comments aloud. Those who were handed the comments read them grudgingly and unenthusiastically — hardly the effect for which I had hoped.
Next up: a timeline of the Civil Rights movement since the Dred Scott decision. Naturally, we’ll bookend this by listening to Sen. Obama’s well-spoken response to the criticism of the Rev. Wright.
I expect nothing but good things from this class this week.
Moral of the story? If you, the history teacher, has trouble finding standardized content relevant to students’ everyday lives, read a newspaper once a month. You’ll find something.