Engage students with this week's news, events, and anniversaries.

Each week we offer a civics lesson to help students understand how our government works: Here's this week's lesson:

Anyone born in the United States or whose parents are U.S. citizens is a citizen. An alien is a person who is not a citizen but can become a citizen by following rules and procedures to do so. Citizens can vote, aliens cannot vote. Voting is a right and a privilege for citizens and it’s a way for citizens to tell government what they want and need. That’s why it’s important for all citizens to vote. But many do not. Why do your students think some people don’t vote? Can they find stories in the news which illustrate the importance of voting?

January 15-19, 2018
Language Arts
1. Share with students that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a world where people would be judged on their character, not on their skin color. Do your students think we’ve reached that point? Explain to students that it was not that long ago when black people saw “Whites Only” signs on water fountains, swimming pools, restaurants and other public places. And, in 2008 America elected Barack Obama an African American man to be the President of the United States and he served two terms. Can your students imagine how Dr. King would feel about that?

2. Your students probably know that Dr. King worked tirelessly for civil rights for all. Assign students to write a journal entry as if they were Dr. King using facts and news from today’s newspaper to support their text. What do they think Dr. King would think and feel about civil rights in today’s world?

Students can read about Dr. King, read, and listen to some of his speeches here.
Common Core Standard: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings

3. You can help students measure the accuracy of the newspaper ads. First they can play the ad decoder game Then send them into the newspaper to identify three of the methods used, i.e. celebrity endorsements, creating wants from worries, or misleading messages. They should find examples in the news of ad strategies they like or don’t like. Which ad in today’s news would they be most likely to respond to? Why?
Common Core Standard: evaluate content presented in media

1. Have students use the television listings to practice computation. They should assess the prime time listings and compute the percentage of shows considered “educational.”
Common Core Standard: computing with whole numbers

2. The “Help Wanted” ads offer authentic data for use in a math challenge. Have students compute the ratio of “service” jobs to those in “manufacturing.” Then have them choose two other job categories and find the ratio.
Common Core Standard: computing with whole numbers, determining ratio

Science Literacy
1. On January 12, 1998, 19 European countries signed an agreement banning human cloning. Explain to students that human cloning is the creation of a genetically identical human being, human cell or human tissue. It is a topic of great controversy. One side argues that the medical benefits outweigh the moral implications of the idea that cloning is “unnatural.” What do your students think? What would be the advantages and disadvantage of cloning themselves? After reading some of the editorials to see how they are written, students can write editorials expressing their opinions about human cloning.
Common Core Standard: supporting an argument

2. Recently Donald Trump tweeted that he’d prefer “good old global warming” to the frigid temperatures along the East Coast. The tweet made news as many people don’t see global warming or climate change as good things. What do you think? Can you find a political issue in the news which is related to weather?

Social Studies
1. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated on January 15 this year. Can your students find a story about him or about race relations in today’s news? Have them summarize one. According to Jesse Jackson, a co-worker of Dr. King’s, on the last day of King’s life, Dr. King was reading two newspapers. Why do your students think that was so? What do they think Dr. King might say if he read today’s newspaper? Allow time for students to write a short 2-person play/dialogue with a conversation he might have after reading today's news.
Common Core Standard: presenting an opinion with supporting details

2. Allow about 15 minutes for your students to listen to the incredibly stirring words of Dr. King.

3. The last speech Dr. King gave is known as, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” Read this excerpt to your students.

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Ask them to view today’s newspaper with a critical eye toward describing the “promised land” that Dr. King might have been talking about. What can they find in today’s news that seems to be part of the promised land?
Common Core Standard: presenting an opinion with supporting details

4. Donald Trump was inaugurated one year ago on Jan. 20, 2017. Look for articles in the news about his first year in office and identify at least three facts and three opinions about him. What is your opinion of him? Why?

5. Explain to students that on January 16, 1920, the 18th amendment to the Constitution went into effect, outlawing the sale of alcoholic beverages. Some people were in favor of the law, called “Prohibition,” because they thought drinking was harmful. The law was later repealed by the 21st amendment. Because it was illegal to produce and sell alcohol, there was illegal production and sale of alcohol, increasing crime during the time the law was in place. Maybe that law didn’t make sense. What do your students think? What do they believe is the best way to change a law that doesn’t work for the majority of people? Have them find an example in the newspaper of a law that they think could use some reform. They can debate the law and the possible reform. Students can read more about prohibition here. It may be interesting to have students discuss the similarities and differences between Prohibition and the legal sale of alcohol to today's marijuana laws that are beginning to change in states like Colorado and Washington.
Common Core Standard: identifying key steps in the formation of a law

Lessons written by Deborah Drezon Carroll. Carroll taught for ten years in Philadelphia, PA and is the author of two parenting books. She also coordinated the Newspaper in Education department of the Philadelphia Inquirer for 16 years.
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