Activities for


Current Domestic Issues
War, Peace, Terrorism & Other Global Issues
The Middle East
Nuclear Weapons & Other Related Issues
Teaching Strategies


BUST, BOOM & BANK BAILOUT (6/3/09) What fueled the housing boom and the bust that followed? Who was hurt? Who benefited? Two student readings explore the issues.

CHECKING LANGUAGE & FACTS IN THE HEALTHCARE DEBATE (5/20/09) Student readings include excerpts from a memo and an ad attacking Obama's reform plan as well as a description of that plan. Discussion questions call for critical thinking about language, factual, and substantive issues.

SHOULD ASSAULT WEAPONS BE BANNED? (5/13/09) Student readings review the origins of the AK-47, the 10-year federal ban on assault weapons, President Obama's views on guns, and the NRA's political clout. Discussion questions and an inquiry-oriented plan for "constructive controversy" follow.

HOW ORGANIC IS ORGANIC FOOD? (5/6/09) What is organic food exactly? Student activities include two readings, a quiz, a writing assignment and suggestions for further inquiry.

SCHOOL REFORM CONTROVERSY (4/29/09) Student readings address the chief issues in today's reform efforts, obstacles to reform, and critical views of mainstream school reform. Discussion questions and suggestions for student inquiries and writing follow.

TORTURE MEMOS & THE RULE OF LAW (4/27/09) A student reading includes excerpts from recently released memos on 'interrogation techniques' approved by the Bush administration; a second reading quotes President Obama's statement on the issue. Discussion questions and writing and citizenship activities follow.

GREEN INITIATIVES to Combat Climate Change (4/15/09) Student readings describe the scientific controversy over "tipping points," the Obama-Biden energy program, and plans to green the Empire State Building. Following the readings are suggestions for student-led green initiatives for Earth Day - or any other day.

Obama's strategy in AFGHANISTAN & PAKISTAN, with a DBQ (4/8/09) An introduction and two student readings discuss the president's view of the Afghanistan/Pakistan connection and what he thinks must be done in both countries. A companion Document-Based Question (DBQ) exercise asks students to consider and write about competing views of the president's strategy.

VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965, THEN & NOW (4/1/09) One student reading traces the orgins of the Voting Rights Act; a second discusses the recent Supreme Court decision limiting the Act's scope when it comes to drawing voter district lines.

FOOD BANKS FACE SURGING DEMAND (3/31/09) As millions of people lose their jobs, food banks are scrambling to meet the need. A student reading is followed by some suggestions for how students might help.

SUSPECTED TERRORISTS: The Bush Legacy & Obama's Response (3/18/09) Two student readings examine the Bush administration's detention of 'enemy combatants' and how the new administration is handling the issue.

AIG: Should Taxpayers Bail Out an 'Irresponsible' Company? (3/11/09) A student reading focuses on the housing boom and bust, why AIG foundered and why taxpayers are propping it up. Discussion questions and a suggested fish bowl discussion follow.

THE PENTAGON: A Budgetary 'Train Wreck'? (3/4/09) Student readings offer an overview of the defense budget and the Pentagon; explore the issues surrounding production of the F22; and discuss the military-industrial-congressional complex. Discussion questions follow. The accompanying DBQ exercise is described below.

DBQ: PENTAGON SPENDING. (3/4/09) In this Document-Based Question exercise, students consider and write an essay about competing views on defense spending.

Jonathan Schell: A TANGLE OF CRISES (2/25/09) A summary of Schell's essay describing the interconnected crises we face and their commonalities is followed by suggestions for discussion, inquiry, critical thinking and writing.

ECONOMIC CRISIS & THE PLAN FOR RECOVERY (2/18/09) Student readings and discussion questions address the the origins and impact of the economic crisis and President Obama's recovery plan.

STUDENT ACTION ON THE ECONOMIC CRISIS (2/10/09) How can teachers help their students understand and take action on problems stemming from the economic crisis? We propose a process for encouraging active student citizenship.

MONEY IN POLITICS: Earmarks & Revolving Doors (2/4/09) Student readings explore such practices as gift-giving, earmarks, and a revolving door that swings among people in government, the military and private industry. Discussion questions and possibilities for inquiry and active citizenship follow.

PRESIDENT OBAMA & AMERICA'S 3 CRISES (1/28/09) President Obama's inauguration address offered a continuing teachable moment for examining key issues facing the nation. A student reading including speech excerpts is followed by questions for discussion and inquiry.

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS: An Effective Speech? (1/20/09) In this classroom lesson, students consider President Obama's inaugural address as a speech and in the context of past inaugural addresses.

LESSONS ON THE INAUGURATION for grades K-12 (posted 1/13/09) Our 15-page PDF booklet includes student readings and interactive lessons about the inauguration, Obama's inaugural speech, the challenges facing the new administration, and the inaugurals of presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt.

GOODBYE NEWSPAPERS? (1/14/09) A student dialogue and two readings examine the declining readership of