Friday, August 2, 2013

Current Events in a Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Social Studies Class

Today at Cedar Ridge Academy Co-ed Therapeutic Boarding School, students in U.S. History and Government class discussed recent current events. As a private school teacher, I encourage students to form their own opinions. As I watch the news, I try to keep the students informed with what is going on in the world.  I bring in a variety of news channel clips so that we can receive different perspectives on the events of the day.  The girls and boys in class today wrote some of their opinions about the events of the week.
U.S. History Students

The first topic we discussed was the George Zimmerman trial.  This case has fascinated the students and it has given us an opportunity to talk about evidence, jury duty, and the right that we have to a trial.  Last week, one of the jurors spoke out about what it was like to make the decision of not guilty.  We watched a little bit of her interview, and discussed the different implications that she brought out. Then I asked the students to write what they thought we should change in our country, if anything, and how we can move forward.  These were some of the responses:
Student #1: “Gun control needs to be stricter.”
Student #2: “I think from here on out after the situation with Trayvon is that neighborhood watches shouldn't be allowed to carry guns and I think that we should move forward.  I think his mom should keep speaking up though.”
Student #3: “Jurors should not only use the ‘law before your heart’, but jurors should be able to use their conscience and not only abide by the law.”
The second topic we discussed was the trial of Ariel Castro.  We had discussed this when the women had first escaped from the kidnapping, and I wanted to catch the students up with what ended up happening with Castro.  This opened up a great discussion on what exactly a plea bargain does in the criminal justice system.  After watching the statements in court and the news coverage, I asked the students to write down some advice that they have for Amanda, Gina, and Michelle as they move forward with their lives.  Some of them wrote:
Student #4: “My advice for the women are to continue in life and to not let some guy mess up your future.”
Student #5: “Forget all those years of pain and chase whatever it is you dream about.  Make up those 11 years and live as fully as you can. Stay out of the media, and spend time with your families.”
Students share strong opinions with the class.

Finally, we caught up on the Edward Snowden situation.  The students watched coverage from yesterday’s news about how he is no longer in the airport in Russia because the authorities gave him papers so that he could leave.  We talked about how the U.S. has been trying to negotiate with the Russians so that he can stand trial in the U.S. I asked the students to write what they think this decision will do to the U.S.-Russian relationship.

Student #6: “I feel that it will affect the relationship with Russia because they are going completely against the U.S.’s request.”
Student #7: “This will affect our relationship greatly with Russia because they basically slapped the U.S. in the face and did what we told them to not do.  Also, this will be bad for our relationship because the Russians aren’t trustworthy to us.”
Overall, the students in my U.S. History and Government classes seemed to be very opinionated about the current events of the world and are able to apply what they are learning in class to these events. Click here for links to the videos we watched.

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