School Improvement in Maryland
ISSUE ANALYSIS
    Introduction
    Template
    Lesson Plan
    Sample Student Response
Introduction
    This critical thinking skill is included because of the many public issues that students will encounter in a government course. Have students practice frequently with the template using issues they find in newspaper articles or weekly news magazines.

    The lesson plan and sample student response sheet were developed to match:

    Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.2.3

    Students will evaluate the impact of governmental decisions and actions that have affected the rights of individuals and groups, and have affected maintaining order and safety.

    Skills for Success Indicator 2.2.6

    Students will use evidence and/or reason to support or refute ideas, issues, or positions.

    Below is the issue summary on the Helmet Law that students will use in this lesson. Make an overhead transparency or individual student copies.

    This year the Maryland General Assembly will review the controversial state law requiring that helmets must be worn by all motorcycle riders. After hearing testimony from interested groups, they are expected to vote whether or not to renew this law.

Template

    Explanation

      Issue analysis looks at an issue from two or more points of view, then develops a reasoned response. Factual material is used in support of opinions.
       
       
    Model for Analysis

      What is the main issue?
       
       
      Define any specific vocabulary needed to understand this issue.
       
       
      Identify all possible positions on this issue. Which two are the key opposing sides?
       
       
      Find all of the facts that support one position.
       
       
      Find all of the facts that support the opposite position.
       
       
      What beliefs/values are in conflict in this issue?
       
       
      Take a position on the issue. Explain why you chose this position.
       
       
      How could you influence others to support your position?
       
       
      What steps did you use to analyze this issue?
       
       
Lesson Plan
    Government Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.2.3

      Students will evaluate the impact of governmental decisions and actions that have affected the rights of individuals and groups, and have affected maintaining order and/or safety.
       
    Skills for Success Indicator 2.2.6

      Students will use evidence and/or reason to support or refute ideas, issues, or positions.

    Lesson Objective: Students will be able to:

    • Analyze an issue with opposing viewpoints.
    • Participate in a debate on helmet safety.
    • Write a letter to their state delegate stating their position on the helmet law.

    Preparation/Motivation

    Gather statistics from the internet or other sources showing the number of motorcycle accident deaths and injuries. Seek specific information on the number of victims wearing helmets. Show these statistics on the overhead and generate a discussion. Suggested sources:

    • Insurance Companies
    • Maryland General Assembly
    • Maryland Department of Transportation
    • Maryland State Police Department
    • Motorcycle Helmet Manufacturers
       
    Lesson Procedures

    1. Show students the proposed helmet law summary. Have students complete the Issue Analysis Skill Sheet. Review student answers.
    2. Organize the class into two sides. Have one side take the position of motorcycle riders who do not want to wear helmets; the other side take the position of officials who want helmets required. Allow time for each side to further research their position.
    3. Have students debate the issue. Use a generic debate scoring sheet and follow formal debating procedures.
       
    Summary/Assessment

    Have students write a letter to their General Assembly delegate expressing and supporting their position on the proposed helmet law. Evaluate student letters using the Social Studies Rubric.
     

Sample Student Response
    Core Learning Goal Indicator 1.2.3

      Students will evaluate the impact of governmental decisions and actions that have affected the rights of individuals and groups, and have affected maintaining order and/or safety.
       
    Model for Analysis

    This year the Maryland General Assembly will review the controversial state law requiring that helmets must be worn by all motorcycle riders. After hearing testimony from interested groups, they are expected to vote whether or not to renew this law.

    .
    What is the main issue?
      should motorcycle riders be required to wear helmets
       
    Define specific vocabulary needed to understand this issue.
      actuary tables - data showing life expectancy and risk factors
       
    Identify all possible positions on this issue. Which two are the key opposing sides?
      motorcycle riders who do not want to wear helmets
      officials (health, police, insurance) who want helmets required

       
    Find all of the facts that support one position.
      pro law = it would save lives and prevent serious injuries
        (show statistics of lives saved by helmets)

       
    Find all of the facts that support the opposite position.
      anti-law = it should be a personal decision
        (show statistics where helmets did not make a difference)

       
    What beliefs/values are in conflict in this issue?
      freedom of choice versus health and safety
       
    Take a position on the issue. Explain why you chose this position.
      I believe that statistics show that helmets help prevent death or injury.
       
    How could you influence others to support your position?
      I would have other teens sign a petition in favor of the law and send it to my delegate in Annapolis.
       
    What steps did you use to analyze this issue?
      I looked at the evidence on both sides and decided which was more persuasive

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