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Best laid plans and all that…

June 1, 2011

Last Friday, I worked on a web page for a free speech discussion using a couple of stories on PBS, the Public Broadcasting Service using a teacher’s lesson plan as a starting point. I thought I would come in today after yesterday’s holiday, and put a few finishing touches on it. Instead, I found out the site had changed, and I couldn’t find the original story I wanted to use. I revised the page and used a different story and put together a webpage that I hope elicits some discussion.

The webpage includes embedded stories on the Westboro Baptist Church’s Supreme Court victory. The Westboro Baptist Church protests at military funerals with anti-gay, anti-Catholic, and God hates the U.S. signs. The Supreme Court heard a case against them and decided that their speech was protected. The second story is about WikiLeaks and the reaction to the release of thousands of secret files. In addition to the embedded videos, the webpage includes information about the two stories including the first amendment, quotes from the Supreme Court’s decision and links for WikiLeaks.

I put this together for several reasons. First, I want to use more news in class because I use PBS news stories toward the end of the semester for listening tests. Second, I want the students to get more exposure to the news and ideas that come from the news. Third, in a survey, the students requested more in-class discussion, which I admit is a weakness of the class. Finally, I just wanted to try something different that would meet goals for the class.

Now, when I went to check on the PBS Newshour site, it looks like it did last Friday. While it has been a frustrating experience, I think the WikiLeaks discussion will be better than Quran burning story in the activity although the original Quran burning story took place here in Gainesville.

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