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Making Civics Real Workshop 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

Workshop Session
Lesson Plan
Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
Essential Readings
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Teacher Perspectives: Debriefing

JoEllen Ambrose: Today we asked the groups to come together and share their consensus positions. They read what their group decided. Then they put it on a continuum as to how they felt it fit between the two extreme positions. They defended that a little bit.

[The results are] a little bit mixed. I think I successfully achieved the objective. The students really did reach that middle ground. They found circumstances where racial profiling may be acceptable or they qualified it. They made some statements that I would like to challenge. Some of them were still [so] broad-stroked that you wonder if they were thinking through that tension between those situations. I was pleased that they were able to reflect on some democratic values more than they did before. I heard the students say, “I appreciate privacy. I think privacy is an important issue.” They were kind of getting at when someone is innocent and when someone is guilty. They were looking at equality and fairness in our society and what is fair for different groups.

Then we looked at the continuum and had a general class discussion. I asked, “What did you learn about the topic? What did you learn about the process? Did you find yourselves changing your mind as a result of the process?” That brought out some good comments. I also asked, “What did you learn as a result of the activity itself, the polling, the structured controversy, and coming to a conclusion?” I liked when one student said, “I changed my mind. When I read the facts, I was much more aware that it is a problem. Initially, I saw it from the perspective of our class because that’s what we brought into it. Now I realize it’s more of a problem, and it’s something we need to think about.” They are certainly seeing the issue in a more complex way.


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