Details about teaching methods

Learning Journal:

A learning journal usually takes the form of a binder that every student has (some teachers choose to keep these in class to prevent them from becoming misplaced). Assignments, quick writes, homework and other materials can be completed and inserted in the binder. The journal is an important resource for students and teachers alike for keeping track of progress and studying for tests and assignments.

The purpose of the learning journal is to focus a student’s attention on the particular subject matter at hand in your class.

The assumption behind a learning journal is that listening and participating in discussion, taking notes, and reflecting on your opinions given the evidence presented facilitates deeper knowledge and personalizes it especially when students can put the issues, concepts, and ideas in their own words.

A learning journal is a reflective document where students are free to express themselves and their opinions.

A learning journal is an effective assessment tool for teachers. It aids a teacher in determining how students are processing and interacting with the material and content you are covering.

A learning journal provides a continuity of direction and focus given that most students are in at least five classes a day.

It is important to use learning journals daily for quick writes, journal assignments, notes, quizzes, etc.

Teachers should read and comment on learning journal assignments and student writing on a weekly basis.

Assure the students that the learning journal is a confidential document between the student and the teacher. However, some sections may be used in class as appropriate.

Quick write:

  • Quick writes have similar goals to the learning journal, in that they help focus student attention and assess prior knowledge, or initiate a new idea.
  • Quick writes are usually done at the beginning of the class as a means of assessing students’ understandings of the material in order for the teacher to make instructional decisions such as reviewing previous content that students may have had difficulty with.
  • Quick writes are frequently used as a spark to focus and stimulate class discussion.

Persuasive arguments:

Persuasive arguments are a significant component of any curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking. Although the models for this vary, the basic principles are similar among the models.

A common model for persuasive arguments usually contains the following principles:

  1. A clearly stated position
  2. Support for the position with data
  3. Additional support (warrants) drawn from general democratic principles that are part of any social studies curriculum. For example, in the state of Michigan they consist of the Core Democratic Values. A few examples pertaining to this particular unit: Equality before the law, justice before the law, individual liberties vs. the common good.
  4. Support your point with outside knowledge that is not part of the content that you are teaching. In other words, bring in an example from history or current real world events.
  5. Describe and refute the opposing argument to your position


1) Approximately how many states currently have the Death Penalty?

a) 47
b) 37
c) 27
d) 17

2) Number in order the stages in a capital case from the list below:

a) guilt phase
b) penalty phase
c) pre-trial
d) post-conviction review
e) direct appeal
f) clemency
g) execution
h) federal habeas corpus

3) Women have, historically, not been subject to the death penalty at the same rate as men. In the United States women have constituted what percentage of executions?

a) 16%
b) 1%
c) 3%
d) 13%

4) Not believing in the “true God” was once grounds for receiving the death penalty in colonial America.

a) True
b) False

5) The existence of the brutalization effect (that the death penalty actually encourages criminal activity) was argued by Dr. Benjamin Rush — signer of the Declaration of Independence. This opposes the death penalty argument of:

a) Retribution
b) Deterrence
c) Arbitrariness
d) Risk of executing the innocent

Short answer:

6) What are the current methods of execution used in the United States today?

7) If your state has the death penalty what methods are used?

Unit 2 Appendix: Group Work Evaluation

Group Facilitator _____________________


Group MemberAssigned RoleTask CompletedGrade

Group Grade Average: ________________

Grading Rubric:

(If anything but a 3.0 is given either a 4.0 or under a 3.0, the group leader is required to give an explanation for this on the comment section of this form.)

  • 4.0 Student cooperated fully, or respectfully/productively disagreed, with group and leader, performed assigned tasks, found necessary information as well as additional information and could explain it.
  • 3.0 Student cooperated fully with group leader, performed assigned tasks and found necessary information.
  • 2.0 Student required reminders to get to work, found only the necessary information, and completed the minimum assigned tasks.
  • 1.0 Student completed assigned tasks after extensive pressure or teacher involvement.
  • 0.0 Student was uncooperative and unproductive.