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Teaching With: ‘What Does America Stand For?’ – New York Times

3. Next, join the conversation by clicking on the comment button and posting in the box that opens on the right. (Students 13 and older are invited to comment, although teachers of younger students are welcome to post what their students have to say.)

4. After you have posted, try reading back to see what others have said, then respond to someone else by posting another comment. Use the “Reply” button or the @ symbol to address that student directly.

5. To learn more, read the related Op-Ed, “What Does America Stand For?” by Anna North, a journalist and novelist. Here is an excerpt:

Adults often dismiss teenagers, assuming that they’re callow, apathetic or uninformed. But the kids I was meeting cared passionately about education, foreign policy, racial justice and more. Even when they weren’t sure how they felt about a certain candidate or issue, they were clearly thinking deeply.

Struck by what I’d heard, I decided to solicit young people’s opinions in a more systematic way, to paint a picture of how their generation sees the country today. That’s how this collection of personal videos came about.

I wrote to dozens of teenagers — young people I’d met at protests, young Republicans I’d talked to around Election Day, teenagers who were already vlogging about their high school experiences on YouTube. I also reached out to Christian youth groups, home schooling associations, L.G.B.T. rights organizations, groups representing Native American youth and many other organizations, asking them to recommend young people who might want to participate.

My goal was to pull together a group that was diverse in as many ways as possible: geographically, politically and in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation.

_________

For teachers: Here is what Ms. Harris did using the film, and why it worked well, in her own words:

I had students watch the video as an introduction to the idea of American values and America today. Then I asked them to make a list of American values that they felt were important. Next, they compared their lists in small groups and narrowed it to three core American values. Finally, I asked groups to share their responses, keeping track on the board.

We noticed similarities and differences, and throughout the discussion we were able to tackle the differences between ideal American values and our actions as a nation. We also talked about how lists might vary; how within our own little bubble we still had trouble coming to consensus and how we could imagine that consensus might be even harder if we included the whole nation.

We also talked about how some values can be in tension with each other at times — like individuality and equality, or free speech and tolerance. It was a great way to set up some of the conversations about individual rights versus bigger government that we will tackle throughout the year.

I think the kids in my class could see themselves reflected in the video, and that is why it was so appealing.

_________

More?

• See all the films in this series.

• Read our list of practical teaching ideas, along with responses from students and teachers, for how you can use these documentaries in the classroom.

• Our next Film Club will take place on Friday, Nov. 3.

Continue reading the main story

Teaching With: ‘What Does America Stand For?’ – New York Times

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