Original Opinions

Original OpinionsProject Summary
This project was originally entitled "Outrageous Opinions" and took place between students in southern and northern California. The project was expanded to align both with the California Public Schools History/Social Science Framework and the California Assessment Program (CAP) writing area of persuasive writing.

The activity was also selected for the California Technology Project's KidsConnection History/Social Science Interactive Network.

Suggested Grade Level and Audience
6th through 12th

Estimated Time Required
2 to 4 weeks

Student Learning Objectives:

  • To explore the meaning of ethical literacy
  • To discuss civic values, rights, and responsibilities
  • To refine critical thinking skills
  • To understand the difference between fact and opinion
  • To become aware of contemporary controversial topics
  • To explore the pro and con sides of a controversial topic
  • To develop persuasive writing skills
  • To reinforce word processing skills
  • To communicate with a distant audience
  • To engage in electronic transfer of information

Writing Prompt

Step 1: Each class, through a process of researching and brainstorming, compiles a list of topics they feel represents significant, contemporary, and controversial issues that deal with human rights.

Step 2: The list of topics is exchanged with a partner class.

Step 3: The receiving class then does research to find evidence that supports the opinion stated in each of the topics. The final assignment is to write a persuasive essay, using evidence to support the stated opinion, while exploring human rights as an ethical issue.

Ethical Literacy themes as defined by the California Public Schools History/Social Science Framework are:

  • Governmental policies that disregard the value of human life or that condone inhuman practices are unethical
  • Major religious and philosophical traditions in Western and non-Western societies should be examined, particularly in their efforts to establish standards of behavior and values for achieving the good life and the good society
  • People's behavior is affected by their ideas and their is a connection between ideas and actions, between ideology and policy, between policy and practice
  • A concern for ethics and human rights is universal and represents the aspirations of men and women in every time and place

Step 4: Completed essays are shared with partner classes for further discussion and understanding of other points of view.

Sample Topics

  • It is okay to conduct medical experiments on animals if the findings will help humans.
  • Smoking should be prohibited in public places because the health of near by non-smokers is affected.
  • Students should not be forced to attend school if they do not want to.
  • If people commit serious crimes, they should be put to death so that they will not be a burden on society.
  • People should have the right to refuse medical treatment and die, if that is their choice.
  • Women soldiers should be expected to fight in combat zones just as men soldiers are.
  • If people are not born in the United States they should not be allowed to move here.



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