Analyzing Current Events as an Adversarial Process

2008-08-16-deweydefeatstruman

Assignment – Every day, the class will examine a current event. Students will sign up for presentation dates upon which they will present their current event articles in a PowerPoint presentation. Every three consecutive presentations will fall under the auspices of the following categories: Civil rights; immigration; government regulation of personal behavior; energy security and climate change; the economy, stupid; electoral races and ballot measures; national security; foreign policy. Additionally, each student will be assigned a presentation for which they will play the devil’s advocate, playing counterpoint to the class discussion following the PowerPoint.

Content – Students will have an opportunity to examine and reconstruct their opinions on American political, economic, social, cultural, industrial, etc. opinions, and configure contemporary world events within their pre-existing schemata. They will also have the opportunity to practice sharing their thoughts on emotionally charged issues in a public forum. To effectively play the devil’s advocate, they will have to objectively examine arguments from multiple angles.

Process – Students will begin by taking a survey, in which they will be asked to “Briefly discuss your positions on the following world issues. Indicate how you arrived at your position on each issue.” They will write short responses on the following:

  • American politics, including issues related to immigration, civil rights, economic policy, national security, gun control, etc.
  • Social issues, including issues related to privacy, human rights and humanitarian issues, climate change, governmental regulation of personal behavior, etc.
  • Foreign policy issues, including foreign aid, energy security, nonproliferation, conflict and stabilization operations, counterterrorism, etc.

Their answers will be used to determine for which topic and for whom they will play the devil’s advocate. Students may have to argue opinions that are contrary to what they actually believe.

Students will also answer: “What do you hope or expect to gain from the current events exercises? Do you think your opinion will change on any of your positions? On what issues do you hope or expect to gain a more-developed understanding?” At the end of the unit, when everyone has presented, they will answer appropriately reflective questions.

During each presentation, students will complete their daily analysis worksheets, upon which they will take notes of the presentation and class discussion.

Product – Students will create PowerPoint presentations to summarize their current event, providing background information and their analyses of the topics. At the conclusion of the presentations, students will provide three questions to guide a classroom discussion following their explanation and background of the topics.  The questions should be open-ended and should ask for students to provide thoughtful responses related directly to the current event.

Evaluation

Grading Components

Intro sheet:                                                    10 pts

Current event presentation:                          30 pts

Devil’s advocate performance:                    12 pts

Current event analyses:                               48 pts

Current Events:

Daily Analysis

Take notes as the presenter presents his/her article. Then participate in the discussion using your notes to guide you, and reflect on the class discussion.

  1. How would you classify this article? Political Economic Social Cultural Combination _____________/_____________ Other __________________
  1. Write a list of things that you learned from this presentation.
  2. Write down a list of things that you are confused about or questions you have?
  3. In the best words you can possibly choose, what is the article’s point? What is the article about?
  4. Provide a summary of the class discussion. What points did you find the most thought-provoking? Did your opinion or position change as a result of the discussion?

Devil’s Advocate Self-Reflection

  1. Which arguments or points you made were the most effective at eliciting responses from the class?
  2. Did any of the arguments or points you made raise awareness of your classmates?
  3. Did your opinion or position on the subject at issue in the article change? What new things did you learn in researching the devil’s advocate position?

PowerPoint Grading Rubric

Summary of article is written in the student’s words, and is not simply copy and pasted from the article.             1   2   3   4   5

At least one other source of information was used to further explicate the article’s topic, with appropriate APA citations.           1   2   3   4   5

Background provided is accurate and thorough   1   2   3   4   5

Student actively and confidently leads discussion, asks follow up questions if necessary to individual students, and included as many students as possible in the discussion.    1   2   3   4   5

The three questions were open ended and led to a good discussion about the topic.             1   2   3   4   5

The PowerPoint presentation slides used an appropriate amount of text, were easy to read, and well designed.              1   2   3   4   5

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