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Practice with Synthesis— The Cost of College

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In Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, In The Heights, Nina, a Stanford student comes home to inform her family and community that she cannot afford the money to keep going to college. These lessons start off with an examination of the song, “Breathe.”
The lessons work on synthesizing arguments regarding the high cost of college and the question whether it is still worth the cost. The 2014 AP English Language and Composition examination exploring this question is used with links to student samples and a lesson on forming excellent to adequate thesis sentences or claims. These lessons fit in well into any Honors Literature class, Pre-AP, American Literature, or AP English Language class.

Students will also close read and annotate the text by a law professor, Paul F. Campos, titled, “The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much,” that appeared in the New York Times. Students will view supporting video clips, and listen to NPR stories on the issue. There is a link to video clips from the Democratic Presidential Debate on the question of the high cost of college tuition and the crisis of student debt. The resource has an explanation on how portions of the lessons can be used in the flipped classroom.

There is also an opportunity to write a rhetorical précis, as well as supporting material for teaching this activity to your students. These four lessons prepare students for AP English Language and Literature exams, Common Core extended response assessments, American and World Literature course exams, the SAT and ACT essay and critical thinking activities.

There is a unique detailed rubric that can be used to score Socratic Seminars in a way that encourages organic fluid discussions. In the guide, there is a step by step explanation on how to conduct a fishbowl discussion with the rubric. The packet includes complete lessons, Common Core standards, and essential and key questions. The students will explore six articles from The New York Times Room for Debate on making college tuition free.

Tags: Socratic Seminar, writing, argument, Pre-AP, critical thinking, education

Total Pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
4 days
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