Category Archives: Common Core

Monday’s Dilemma – Colin Kaepernick, The National Anthem and Freedom of Speech


The following is the first in a series of learning activities that bridge current events and the Common Core.  For more Monday’s Dilemma learning activities, click here

football-clip-art-RiGELRMiLSubject: ELA, English, Writing, Reading, Social Studies, Humanities

Common Core: Writing Standard 1

The Dilemma: On Thursday, August 26 during a preseason NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, quarterback Colin Kaepernick made the decision not to stand during the playing of the National Anthem.  His actions have caused a media frenzy with people taking sides – those who support Kapernick’s decision to as a testament of the Second Amendment to freedom of speech.  Others have called it a disgraceful and disrespectful to the very country and people who have fought to protect his rights that afford him the opportunity to get paid to play a game for a living.

Learning Activities:

  • Discuss what Freedom of Speech means (tie to the Constitution of The United States and the Second Amendment
  • Review/Introduce what the difference between fact and opinion is
  • Review/Introduce the skills and content needed to develop an argument (based on grade level – i.e Grade 7 needs to make a claim and acknowledge the counterclaim)
  •  After previewing the video comprehend what the two opposing views are on Colin Kaepernick’s actions
  • Pose the question – Do you agree with Colin Kaepernick not standing during the National Anthem?  
  • Students should be prompted to do one of the following;
    • Engage students in a discussion about the topic and encourage them to draw their own conclusions and include their reasons why (Lower Elementary/Upper Elementary)
    • Develop a short essay in which they argue for or against Colin Kaepernick’s decision (Upper Elementary/Middle Level)
    • Design notes to use in presenting a short speech that argues for or against Colin Kaepernick’s actions (Upper Elementary/Middle Level)
    • Working in teams present an opening argument for a legal case regarding the Second Amendment using Colin Kaepernick’s actions as a foundation for their position. (Secondary Level)
    • Create a letter to Colin Kaepernick supporting or disagreeing with his actions (Lower Elementary/Upper Elementary/Middle Level/Secondary Level)
  • Prompt students to remember to include the following;
    • Cite evidence from one of the news stories.
    • Include a clearly developed position for their argument
    • Include opposing viewpoints (Grade 7 and up)
    • Keep personal opinions to a minimum (they can be included in the conclusion or introduction of their work, but should not be the focus of their work)

Resources: Below are various news articles, videos, and opinion blogs about Colin Kaepernick sitting during the national anthem and should be used to help students develop their position on this topic.

Colin Kaepernick’s official statement regarding his decision not to stand during the National Anthem – “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

San Fransisco 49ers official statement regarding Colin Kaepernick’s decision not to stand during the National Anthem“The national anthem is and always will be a special part of the pre-game ceremony. It is an opportunity to honor our country and reflect on the great liberties we are afforded as its citizens. In respecting such American principles as freedom of religion and freedom of expression, we recognize the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the national anthem.”

General News Stories about Colin Kaepernick’s actions

News Articles Supporting Kaepernick’s actions

News Articles Disagreeing with Kaepernick’s actions

 

Are we targeting the “right” gender


Recently Verizon kicked off a widely publicized media campaign “targeting” girls and STEM education.  The purpose of the campaign is to encourage more girls to pursue careers in the STEM industries.

While I do believe in the importance of encouraging more girls and young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math I can’t help wonder if the Verizon campaign’s message is doing harm as well as good.  Historically, girls do better in school than boys and while the data for career choices that Verizon puts forth is correct and there is a disconnect shouldn’t we as society be focusing on the real problem now – boys and their continually struggles with education.

Take a look at this video which highlights some of the statistics from a 2010 Newsweek article on the statistics of the current trends of boys in Education

Many argue that we as a society are focusing our education on the wrong gender.  That we are continuing to promote a myth about education and STEM while ignoring the real problem.

Shortly after Verizon released their marketing campaign NPR published this article –  The Modern American Man, Charted.

One graph in particular,

chart on education

really points out the differences in the success among girls in education over boys. And while the article does point out that girls are less likely to pursue higher degrees in STEM they are far more likely to pursue higher degrees to support their career goals. (Thank you @ronishayne for the link!)

There are two sides to every story and in this instance, and Verizon makes a compelling case in their campaign which in part is encouraging America to support young girls and be mindful of what you say to them to avoid gender biases as you can see from the  two PSA’s below;

As a woman, I would have rather seen Verizon promote education and push a campaign that would support learning  on both ends of the gender spectrum.  I think it is important girls be encouraged to play in the dirt or pick up a power drill (I have owned one since I was a teenager and my parents never told me not to get my dress dirty or put down a starfish.)  However, I think a commercial with boys being encouraged to design fashion, cook, tend to people’s needs a nurse,  or even teach would support a campaign that is working on counter-acting gender bias but in many ways creating it by only targeting one gender.

Edshelf…very cool


I just discovered edshelf and in many ways it was by accident.  I was looking for something completely different in goggle and the first hit I got was two different links to different edshelf collections.  Now I may be completely behind the times in just learning about edshelf, but after a bit of agonizing I decided that even if just one person reads this and learns about edshelf, then it was worth blogging about.

So for those of you who have not heard of this website, it allows educators to create collections (based on whatever organizational means you consider fit!) of apps that they can or do  use  in the classroom.

In my opinion – sheer genius!!!  I wish I knew about this site sooner.  I am constantly coming across apps that I think are great, and while I don’t necessarily have the opportunity to use them right away, it is hard to keep track of them.  Thanks to edshelf, NOW I DO!!!  It also gives me (and hopefully you) the opportunity to browse education apps in one place and decide whether you want to take the time to download it before you go through the trouble of setting up an account.  Perfect!!! Thank you edshelf

I have just started to play with my edshelf account, but have already create three collections and an example of one is below.

Mind Mapping on edself
Mind Mapping on edself

What is also a real plus is you can print your collection page, with or without QR codes and give the handouts  to your students, staff, parents, etc. as a reference tool.

If you use technology in the classroom, then I would urge you to check the site out.  Even if you are not interested in setting up an account, you can definitely glean much information from the collections that have already been created by other educators.  For me, it was clearly my teachable moment of the day!