I love this lesson! And so do my students!
It sounds like your basic ho-hum lesson, but YOU go into it knowing better!! What I love so much about using this the past two years is that my students start out just thinking it's a normal lesson. They are learning about the importance of mineral mining in South Africa and are reading in pairs to find information about it. When we start discussing answers as a whole class, they get irritated because other students are giving responses that don't sound familiar to them. (And, of course, I take advantage of the opportunity to "hassle" them for not reading their article carefully enough!) And finally, they figure out that there are TWO DIFFERENT articles I am using and that they have TWO VERY DIFFERENT perspectives on the impact of mining in South Africa. (I teach 4 sections of world geography each day, and amazingly the students early in the day try to make each other promise NOT to tell students in later classes that it's a trick!)
So, that's the FUN part! Here's why it's also seriously good academically:
1. I have adapted information from different sources and written the articles on 8th-9th grade reading levels.
2. I have included a very short PowerPoint walking students (and you) through instructions for "paired reading." (This is a great strategy for many different lessons, and I use it a few times each month as a way to motivate them to read carefully, to exploit their social nature, and to support lower-ability readers.)
3. Students evaluate how the inclusion or omission of factual information can totally skew the effect of an article on its reader.
4. As a final activity, I created a page with 10 statements about post-apartheid South Africa, each telling a positive or negative thing about the country. The instructions (which I have at the top of the hand-out) tell students to imagine they have been assigned to write an article explaining how difficult life in South Africa is still today. To prepare for this (imaginary) assignment, they need to read over the 10 statements and mark out the ones that do not support their assigned perspective.
So yes, this lesson is about South Africa and the legacy of mining. But it is about much more. It is about teaching students to seriously consider multiple views and to be aware that even factual information may leave out vital facts in order to influence their perceptions. And that's a life skill we all need to learn!!
Uploaded August 2014