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        9-12

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        P.S. Illinois: A Life of Uncommon Courage Lesson Plan

        Discover how one individual can impact society. Budding journalist Paul Simon takes on corruption and bribery in Madison County, Illinois in P.S. Illinois: A Life of Uncommon Courage. Students and teachers will be motivated to effect positive change in their own communities after viewing Paul Simon challenge corrupt local police and government officials in a clip from "P.S. Illinois: The Paul Simon Story" and reading his scathing newspaper article on illicit local business.

        Lesson Summary

        Objective:

        This lesson helps students understand social systems and how individuals and groups interact in a society, and how citizen action is essential to democracy and pursuit of the common good. Students will explore questions of power, authority and governance. Students will read informational texts and express ideas.

        Grade Levels:

        • 9-12 

        Suggested Time:

        • 2-3 class periods 

        Multimedia Resources:

        • P.S. Illinois: A Life of Uncommon Courage video

        • P.S. Illinois: Closed Houses of Prostitution Again Operating PDF document

        Before the Lesson:

        Review the resources ahead of time to prepare for the lesson.

        • Watch P.S. Illinois: A Life of Uncommon Courage video

        • Read P.S. Illinois: Closed Houses of Prostitution Again Operating PDF document

        • Print and make copies of the PDF document

        • Print and make copies of the discussion questions. An alternative is to display the document on screen using classroom technology.

        • Consider how you will prepare students to discuss the subject matter. Develop additional discussion questions as necessary to connect the subject matter to topics the class has already studied.

        The Lesson: 

        Part I – 

        • View P.S. Illinois: A Life of Uncommon Courage video and read P.S. Illinois: Closed Houses of Prostitution Again Operating PDF document. This can be done in the classroom or assigned as homework the night before. 

        • Break the class into small groups to answer discussion questions. 

        • Review the answers with the class.

        Part II -

        • Ask students to create a short presentation (3-5 minutes in length)* in response to the video, essay and class discussion. In their responses, students should consider the following:

        1. What broad problem or larger issue does the author address?
        2. What was the specific question, concern or focus of this column in the Troy Tribune newspaper?
        3. What was done to collect the data for this article?
        4. What insight or information did the author discover?
        5. What do you think about this reporting style?
        6. Why should we care about this issue?

        * Presentations may be created utilizing PowerPoint, Animoto, Prezi or another preferred method. In larger classes, students may be divided into groups of two or three  to ensure all presentations can be completed in one class period.

        Culminating Activity: 

        Students will deliver their presentations to the class to demonstrate an understanding of the subject matter.

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