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        Analyzing an Issue From Three Perspectives - Smoking in Public Places

        Students learn about different people's views on the issue of banning smoking in public places.  They then interview people in their own community and produce a report on their research and opinions on the issue.

        Lesson Summary


        Students watch a video on the debate about smoking in public places in New York City. They note various perspectives presented in the video and then create an interview to research the perspectives of peers and local community members. Finally, they write a report to present their findings and their opinion on the issue.

        Why is this an important concept?

        Learners who can analyze an issue from various perspectives will broaden their understanding of the issue and be able to make informed decisions about the issue.

        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        3) 60-minute periods over several days

        Media Resources


        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        Day 1

        1. Discuss the issue of banning smoking in public places. Does the State have the right to tell smokers they cannot smoke in restaurants, office buildings, and other public places? What might different groups of people say (i.e., smokers, nonsmokers)?

        2. Explain to students that the video they will watch discusses various perspectives on the issue; however, it was made prior to New York State's decision to ban smoking in public places. This issue is still being debated around the country: New York was the third state to ban smoking in public places. Was it the right decision? Should this law be changed in New York? What should other states do?

        3. Distribute copies of the Smoking Issue rubric so students are aware of the expectations for the activity.

        4. Prior to watching segment 1, "Introduction to the Smoking Section," ask students to listen and watch to learn about the perspectives of the two smokers in the segment. How do these smokers view smoking? How do students think these smokers will feel about smokeless restaurants? Discuss these questions after viewing the video.

        Distribute the Smoking Notes handout. Review and explain the Counterpoint column. Which people might have conflicting opinions with the 'Whose Perspective' column?

        5. Prior to watching segment 2, "Smoking Section," ask students to note points and counterpoints of the various perspectives noted on the Smoking Notes handout. While watching, model on the blackboard how you would enter your first point and counterpoint. Students continue to fill out handout as they watch video.

        6. After viewing, groups compare notes and revise their own as needed. Discuss responses as a class.

        7. If time allows and you think students could benefit, show all or part of segment 2 again so students can confirm and add to notes.

        8. Collect notes. Review and provide feedback.

        Day 2

        1. Return students' notes to them. Provide feedback to class.

        2. Explain what an interview is and its purpose. (See Related Resources link.) Explain to students that they will be creating an interview that they will administer to at least two peers and two community members.

        3. Distribute the Smoking in Public Places: Creating an Interview handout. Go over it with students. Discuss examples provided for each category and what other questions should be asked to provide a full understanding of what perspective the person is coming from and how that might influence the person's responses.

        4. Facilitate student groups as they work together to create an interview. Have the groups share interviews with each other, then revise interview questions as needed.

        5. Discuss how to conduct an interview.

        6. Students interview at least two peers and two community members for homework. Give them at least four nights to complete the interviews. Among the four people they interview, they should choose at least one smoker and one nonsmoker. They write people's responses on separate papers to be handed in.

        Day 3

        In groups, students discuss the people they interviewed and the responses they got. What did they learn? What generalizations can they make?

        For students who need additional teacher guidance:

        1. Provide opportunities for students to view the segments additional times.

        2. Limit number of interview questions for which struggling students are responsible.

        3. Help students fill in the Counterpoint column of the Smoking in Public Places: Notes handout.

        Part II: Assessment

        Students will write a short report describing

        Paragraph 1: What the issue is
        Paragraph 2: How smokers responded to the issue
        Paragraph 3: How nonsmokers responded to the issue
        Paragraph 4: How other groups responded to the issue
        Paragraph 5: What the student's opinion is based on the facts and his or her personal feelings about the issue

        They should hand in their report, notes, interview questions, and their four response papers.


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