Monday, October 22, 2012

Teens Can Sink Teeth into Halloween-Themed Case

Periodically, I try to let teachers know of online materials that may assist them in social studies classes, particularly those materials that relate to the judiciary. Here is an interesting idea from the U.S. courts website, and it’s timely given that Halloween is just around the corner.

An interactive educational program on the First Amendment and social media designed for high school students uses a real case about the U.S. Supreme Court’s school newspaper censorship decision (Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier) and applies it to a fictional student vampire club.

The Fangtastics go to court when high school administrators drive a stake through the heart of their online postings. Was it a case of protected critical satire or dangerous cult activity?

In the classroom, instructors may choose an Oxford-style debate or a full-fledged courtroom drama to examine opposing sides of the social media/free speech issue. It’s all in fun, especially as Halloween approaches. For more on social media and the First Amendment – and where vampires stand on the issues – take a look at these resources.

Additional reality-based courtroom simulations on a variety of topics of interest to high school students are also available.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Could You Pass the U.S. Citizenship Test?

Although most of us become U.S. citizens through birth, people born outside the United States can do so through the naturalization process.

Becoming a naturalized citizen involves preparing for a 100-question civics test, although an applicant is typically asked to answer only 10 questions during the oral exam. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an applicant must answer 6 out of 10 questions correctly to pass the civics portion of the test.

I bring this up because I read a story recently in Parade magazine about former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s iCivics program, for which I am a representative in Ohio. A citizenship questionnaire was part of that article.

Would your civics knowledge allow you to become a U.S. citizen? Check out these questions by clicking the link below—some are pretty tough— see how many you get right.