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
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.
- It is okay to conduct medical experiments on animals if the findings will
- 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
- If people are not born in the United States they should not be allowed to