Safety and Security or Your Civil Liberties - Which is More Important?
Subjects: Government, civics, social studies
Estimated time of Completion: One to two class periods plus additional time for the extension activities
Background information: NewsHour Extra story, "USA Patriot Act Sparks Controversy"
3. Background information: ACLU News article, "ACLU Files First-Ever Challenge to USA PATRIOT Act, Citing Radical Expansion of FBI Powers" found at: http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=13249&c=206
4. Background information: Online NewsHour transcript, "Considering the Patriot Act" with former Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh and Laura Murphy of the American Civil Liberties Union, on the Patriot Act and the balance between security and freedom in America. Found at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/july-dec03/patriot_8-19.html
5. Computers with word processing and spreadsheet/graphing software such as Word and Excel to be used for creating surveys, tabulating results, and documenting results in the form of various types of graphs.
1. Create student interest by writing the following statements on the board or overhead:
2. Without previous discussion, reveal each statement to students and read it aloud. Ask students to respond on scratch paper by writing the words Agree or Disagree in connection with each statement. In addition, they should write a short explanation about why they agree or disagree.
3. When all four statements have been addressed, facilitate a class discussion about each of them. Encourage students to share their opinions and support them with reasons, facts, and examples that they are familiar with. Encourage students to challenge and debate one another's ideas.
4. Close discussion by explaining to students that these issues, among others, are a large part of the debate that surrounds the USA PATRIOT Act that was passed as a result of the 9/11 attacks.
Review the USA PATRIOT Act with students by providing them with background information
about it. The following Web site provides excellent details about the act and
6. Introduce students to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU in relation to the USA PATRIOT Act. Review the basics of the case that is before the courts including the ACLU's reasons for challenging the act. Information can be found at the ACLU Web site: http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=13249&c=206. Discuss the ACLU's case and reasons why people would react so strongly to the impact that the USA PATRIOT Act has on the average American's civil liberties.
7. Next, give students the opportunity to hear opposition to the ACLU's point of view by directing them to the Online NewsHour transcript featuring former Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh on the Patriot Act and the balance between security and freedom in America. This link is found at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/terrorism/july-dec03/patriot_8-19.html. Allow students to read/see/hear specific arguments supporting the USA PATRIOT Act from Viet Dinh and discuss the misconceptions or confusion surrounding certain provisions of the act such as the "Sneak and Peek" aspect of the legislation.
8. Go back to the four statements presented in Step 1. Ask students to re-examine their responses to the statements. Have any of their opinions changed? Why or why not? Continue the discussion by posing questions like:
9. Encourage students to find out how other students/citizens feel about the effects of the USA PATRIOT Act by having them create and conduct a survey related to it. Help students formulate their survey questions and discuss how surveys will be conducted. Provide students with procedures for calculating and documenting the results of their survey and a means to present their findings for public viewing. For example, students might develop 3-5 survey questions, conduct surveys orally or by using some sort of written checklist, record results on a check list of some sort, and then document results using pie graphs, line graphs, etc. Results could then be posted in the school newspaper or Web site or around the classroom until the unit of study is completed.
2. Provide students with the opportunity to share their opinions about the USA PATRIOT Act by having them complete a creative activity designed to get their point of view out to others. This could include creating a poster or bumper sticker, writing a letter to the editor or their Congressional representative, creating a political cartoon or collage, or writing a poem or song. Encourage students to share their work by presenting and or displaying it in the classroom.
Thinking and Reasoning
Language Arts (Listening and Speaking)
About the Author Lisa Prososki is an independent education consultant who taught middle school and high school social studies, English, reading, and technology courses for twelve years. Prososki has worked with PBS TeacherSource and has authored and edited many lesson plans for various PBS programs over the past eight years. In addition to conducting workshops for teachers at various state and national meetings, Prososki works as an editor, creates a wide range of educational materials for corporate clients, and has authored one book.
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