February 23

posted Feb 23, 2012, 6:05 AM by Peter Knowles   [ updated Feb 23, 2012, 6:26 AM ]
Yesterday you had a chance to use Wikipedia to get some ideas about what your chosen topic for the first assessment was all about. 

Today we'll begin looking at how the ideas you've chosen actually play out in today's world by using news articles that relate to one or more of the concepts that we've been talking about. 

 Basic Concepts of DemocracyBirth Control DebateGay Marriage College AdmissionsPharmacy RulesStolen Valor Act
A recognition of the fundamental worth of every person (15)   X X  
A respect for the equality of all persons (16) X X X  
A faith in majority rule accompanied by respect for minority rights (17) X X  X X
An acceptance of the necessity of compromise (17) X   X 
An insistence upon the widest possible degree of individual freedom (17)    X X X X

If these articles don't work for you, here are some tips on how to find your own:
Go to Google.com
Choose News from the black menubar at the top of the screen
Type your search terms in the search box, but use these features to restrict the results:
    • Use quotation marks to keep phrases together (EX: "majority rule" instead of majority rule)
    • Use a hyphen (minus sign) to avoid certain words. (EX: searching for equality returns many stories on marriage equality because it's such a huge topic right now. Searching for equality -marriage will leave out stories that have the word marriage in them.
    • Use the phrase location:USA to restrict your results to those that come from US news sources (which might really help with this assignment)
So an example search you might make to find articles might look like this: "individual freedom" -religious location:USA

And remember: you'll need to cite any sources of information you use, so make sure you keep track of where the information you use comes from. 
Here's a typical citation from our textbook (McClenaghan 17) if you choose to use information from it.

Once you have enough information to begin writing, use a standard essay format to get going. Write a broad and appealing introduction that ends with your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should be a single sentence that answers the question "How important is (fill in your chosen topic here) in the United States today?"
Once you complete your introductory paragraph, it's a good idea to spend a bit of time defining your topic. Explain, in your own words, and perhaps using your textbook or yesterday's research to help you, what your topic really means. Define it well, because your reader will rely on it to understand the rest of your response. 
After defining your topic, begin talking about where you see it working (or not working) in the United States today. Use research from above, and from your own knowledge or perceptions to explain what your topic looks like. How can we recognize it? Where is it? Where should it be?
Finally, end with a brief, concluding paragraph where you restate your thesis and summarize your main points.
And don't forget to include a list of references to show where you found any outside information.
Here's a reference listing for our textbook: McClenaghan, William A. Magruder's American Government. Needham, MA: Prentice Hall, 1999.