To prepare students for our topic today, they enter class, get out their Warm Ups sheet and answer this prompt:
Good morning. Please take five minutes and write an answer to these questions. Do you believe in the Death Penalty? Why or Why Not? How many people do you think Missouri has executed? What crimes should be eligible for the Death Penalty? Are the executors Rule Makers or Rule Breakers and why? (W.9-10.10)
Students answer this prompt to introduce our topic. I am anxious to hear what they initially think about the topic of the death penalty in our state. Having them write about it, will give them an opportunity to reflect and decide if their thinking changes based on the readings.
I use this warm up sheet each week. It helps students stay organized, gives me a quick way to make sure they are participating in warm ups and records their thinking throughout the semester.
The knowledge level of the death penalty will greatly vary. I assume that there will be many misconceptions in class. I want students to have a basic background and an understanding of the death penalty statistics. I distribute the Facts about the Death Penalty from Deathpenalty.org. I used this document because it uses many different infographics, text features, etc. It is great practice for students to analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (RI.9-10.7). Students and I read the document together. I ask them things like, What does the bar graph tell us? What are some reasons the number of executions has decreased since '98? What conclusions can we draw based on the statistics about race and the death penalty? Why do you think certain states have higher death penalty statistics than others? While asking students these questions, I want them to analyze the development of this topic over the course of the infographic (RI.9-10.2).
David Stuart has done a wonderful thing with his Teaching the Core and Article of the Week website. I turned to this site for the articles for today's lesson. I distribute the Arguments For and Against Death Penalty article and tell students simply to read them with no pen or pencil in their hand. I often give students a chance to just read before picking up a pencil. Annotating and thinking through text is important, but so is rereading and I have found that if students annotate during the first reading, they seldom return to the text. Once they are finished with their first read, I ask them to return to the text and read it again. This time, I want them to annotate. Since they already formed an opinion during the warm up, I ask students to put a check mark next to sections of the text that they agree with. I ask them to put an X next to sections of the text they disagree with. Finally, I ask them to put an exclamation point near evidence that isn't sufficient. I ask students to do this because they need to be able to delineate an argument and evaluate the evidence (RI.9-10.8).
When students struggle with thorough analysis that leads to being able to delineate an argument, this video explains how I use student life to teach thorough argument analysis.
In the last few minutes, I tell students that tomorrow we will write an essay examining their opinion about the death penalty and analyzing the author's opinion.