What Parents & Students Should Know

What Parents & Students Should Know

21STCentury Issues


Throughout the 21st Century Issues curriculum you will be learning about issues that impact our world today. All students in class will be asked to know the background and specifics of these issues and to express a well-informed opinion regarding them. As an honors student, you will go beyond understanding. We will ask that you not only begin to form your own opinions, but are also able to defend them, and learn how to use your own ideas about the world to cause change.

What Parents & Students Should Know

This packet contains detailed information about the honors requirements. However, there are a couple of items that students and parents should consider prior to committing to take the class for honors credit. Below is a list of characteristics of the type of student that will find the honors component meaningful and engaging. Students and parents should reflect on these characteristics to make an informed decision about taking the class for honors credit.

  • A successful honors student is interested in world issues. Much of the honors component has students dig deeper into class topics in which they are already interested. Because of this, students who have a natural interest current issues, events, and their history find the honors component more meaningful. If a student is typically not interested in what’s going on in the world, or does not like history, they may struggle with completing the honors assignments.
  • A successful honors student is well organized and responsible. Because of the nature of many of the honors assignments, most of thedue dates are different for each student. The “Being Informed” presentations (see description later in this packet) require students to present on different days, and because of this they will be working on research at different times, meeting with me at different times, and turning work in at different times. Though the due dates for each student will be posted on a calendar in class, it is up to the student to keep track of his or her specific deadlines. Students who don’t have a schedule or an organizational system in place (like a planner) may struggle with this requirement.
  • A successful honors student is self-motivated. Honors assignments ask students to delve deep into the class topics that they find interesting.Picking a topic and finding suitable resources will require a certain amount of diligence on the student’s part. In addition, students will be required to meet with the librarians to do research on their own time. Students who have a hard time managing their schedules, or those that have trouble being self-advocates, maystruggle with this requirement.
  • A successful honors student is willing to take on a leadership role in class. Throughout the semester, honors students take a leadership role in discussions and group activities. Part of the honors component also requires them to present information in front of the class. Leadership and public speaking are important life skills that honors students will further develop during the semester. Students who are not willing to challenge themselves in these two areas may struggle with this requirement.

More detailed descriptions of each assignment in the honors component appear later in this packet. Students who wish to take 21st Century Issues for honors credit must fill out and sign the contract on the back of this page.

The completed Honors Contract, signed by the student and a parent, is due no later than 2/1/13.

21st Century Issues

Honors Contract

Student Name: ______ID# ______

Period: ______Date:______Semester/Year:______

Both my teacher and I understand that I will be working for high ability (Honors) credit in this elective Social Studies course.

The credit is contingent upon the following criteria:

  1. Exemplary classroom behavior: Exemplary behavior is defined as model behavior; behavior that other students would follow, or emulate. It is cooperative and not disruptive.
  1. Initiating and leading during regular classroom discussion and group work. Students will also be assigned as group leaders during in class debates.
  1. Classroom performance at a higher level, reflecting significant contributions in class work.
  1. Additional honors coursework.
  • One “Getting Involved” assignment / presentation completed by required due date.
  • One “Being Informed” presentation completed by required due date.
  • One “Advocating for an Issue” assignment, completed by required due date.

*I understand that once I agree to work for high ability honors credit I am responsible for the requirements herein and cannot cancel this contract.

Student Signature______Date______

Parent Signature______Date______

Teacher Signature______Date______

21st Century Issues

Honors: Selection Process

Students that are interested in taking 21st Century Issues for honors must:

1.)Type a one-page paper (double spaced, Times New Roman, 1” Margins) that outlines the answer to this question:

What about this class makes you want to dig deeper into the subject matter?

In your answer, highlight topics listed on the syllabus, any experience or knowledge of the subject matter that you already have, personal interests that you have, clubs that you are a part of, and what you hope to get out of being in the honors program.

2.)Sign the Contract for Honors Credit, have your parent or guardian sign the contract, and turn it in to your teacher by February 1st, 2013.

Please note: the grades you received your freshman year will also be a determining factor. Keep in mind that this is just of factor; and that you will not be excluded or included based solely upon your prior grade reports.

“Getting Involved”

Assignment Instructions (20 pts)

This assignment’s due dates vary. Fill in yours below.

Requirement / Point Value / My Due Date
Meeting attendance verified by the club sponsor (teacher) / 5
Paper and Informal Presentation / 15 / (Last day is February 28th)

Meeting Attendance: Students will go to a meeting of any group that is related to an issue that is being discussed in class. For example, you could attend Model UN, UNICEF, STAND, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, etc. You can also attend a meeting of any group outside of the school that deals with global issues. You must ask for approval from Mr. W. before you go. When you are there, interview members of the club so that you can answer the questions that are required for the paper and presentation (explained in the next section). Get the club sponsor to verify your attendance by sending Mr. W an email.

Be sure to get the club sponsor (teacher) to email Mr. Weisenburger () to confirm your attendance.

Paper / Presentation: After the meeting, write a 2-page paper (Times New Roman 12 font, double spaced and 1” margins) which answers the following questions:

  • What club did you attend? When did you go? When and where do they hold regular meetings?
  • What is the purpose / mission / goal of the club you attended? What events do they hold throughout the year to try to accomplish that goal?
  • Go to the website for this organization. What is this organization doing on a national or global basis to achieve their goal?
  • How does this club’s purpose / mission/ goal relate to what we’re discussing in class?
  • Why did this club interest you?
  • After attending a meeting, do you think that this is a club you will continue to be a part of? Why or why not?

On the day your assignment is due, you will be expected to informally present the information above to the class. While no additional resources are required (like PowerPoint), please do not simply “read” your paper to the class!

“Being Informed”

Project Instructions (50 pts)

This assignment has many due dates that will vary by individual.

Please fill in your specific due dates in the chart below:

Requirement / Point Value / My Due Date
Article Approval / 5
Article Research / 10
Article Summary / 10
Article Presentation / 20
Issue Update / 5

Article Approval: For this assignment students will be responsible for finding a recent news article about a current world issue that is being (or will be) covered in class. The article must be from a print news source (newspaper or newsmagazine) or its website. In addition, the following news websites may be used: CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, BBC, CBS. All other websites are prohibited unless specific permission is given by Mr. W. Ten days prior to your presentation due date (usually a Tuesday), honors students will be required to meet with Mr. W briefly after school or during an open period to present their article to the teacher for approval. If a student is concerned that their article might not be accepted, they are more than welcome to bring in several articles that they find interesting.

Students need to prepare for this meeting by filling out the “Article Approval Form” in the appendix of this document.

Article Research: After having their article approved, students will need to meet with the school librarians to research all topics or questions written on their Article Approval Sheet. They will also need to provide hardcopies of their research to the teacher. While students are encouraged to do additional online research, students must have at least one hardcopy (printed) source from the library. The librarians have been informed of the project and understand the process. It is important for students to understand that they will not do the research for you. It is their jobs to guide you through the research process and help you find where the information that you need may be located. The research process, if done properly, takes time, and this is not something you should put off to the last minute. For credit on the research component of this project, it must be evident that the student has gone through the research thoroughly and related it to his or her topic. This will be evident to the teacher by copious (plentiful) written notes that are taken on the article, important information highlighted with summaries/notes written next to them, etc. Articles that are blank or show limited thought on the student’s part will not be awarded full credit for the research component of the assignment.

Students need to bring in copies of at least one source from the librarians and sources for each of the topics / questions listed in your “Article Approval Sheet” and show them to Mr.W by one week before your scheduled presentation.

Article Summary and Presentation: After completing their research, students will begin working on the article summary and presentation. Both are due on you assigned presentation date.

In about a page, the summary should include the following:

  • Summarize what is happening, where, and why.
  • Explain how it relates to concepts learned or discussed in class.

The summaryshould be laid out accordingly.

Student Name

Being Informed




Leave One Space Here

Leave One Space Here

Source Article Was Taken From: Article Title

Author (Date Article Was Published)

Leave One Space Here

Leave One Space Here

Start paper here with an indent. You should double-space your work.

The summary above is due on the day of your presentation and will be displayed in the “Class Topics in the News” section in the classroom so make sure it is error free!

Using a PowerPoint or GoogleApp as your aid, your presentation must…

  • Give a brief overview that summarizes the article.
  • Include a map of the region of the world in which the issue is occurring.
  • Describe what is happening, and why.
  • Update what, if anything, has happened with the issue since the original article was printed.
  • Explain how the issue relates to concepts learned in the class (e.g. power, realism/idealism, barriers to development, power vacuums, human rights, terrorism, the rise of the rest, etc).
  • Provide reasons why the student was interested in the article.
  • Also highlight the unique view the student took on the article (i.e. explain the additional topics/questions that were raised and what the student learned doing the research on the topics/questions).
  • Explain what is currently being done about the situation.
  • Explain what the student believes should be done about the situation.
  • Include at least one additional media source. While charts, graphs, photos, political cartoons, etc. are accepted, the preferred media source would be a video clip (as can be found on YouTube). Video clips can be no longer than 1½ minutes and need to augment (expand) the presentation in some way. If the student finds a video that is 3 minutes long, they can start and stop the video to fit within the allotted time as long as the starts and stops make sense.
  • Explain where students can find more information if they are interested.
  • End with one or two questions about the topic that will generate class discussion on the topic. The student will then facilitate that discussion.

Issue Update: Students will need to provide an update about this topic no later than 2 weeks after their presentation. The update is relatively informal compared to the rest of the requirements. Students bring in a copy of the latest article about their topic or event and summarize it verbally for the class. Students should also share their opinion about what has happened since their original report. Students interested in doing an article update should let Mr. W. know at the beginning of class that day.

“Advocate for an Issue”

Assignment Instructions (30pts)

This assignment has many due dates that will vary by individual.

Please fill in your specific due dates in the chart below:

Requirement / Point Value / My Due Date
Issue Approval / 5 / (Two weeks before due date)
Research and Rough Draft / 5 / (Week before your due date for final draft)
Final Draft / 20 / (Latest = Friday, April 26th)

Issue Approval: For this assignment, students will need to first identify an issue for which they have a passionate opinion. Once they decide on a topic, students should choose whether they want to complete the “letter” or the “cartoon” option for this assignment (both are explained below). Students should fill out the issue approval form and turn it in to Mr. W. Upon receiving the approval form back, students may begin working on their rough draft.

Once students choose a topic, they should fill out the Issue Approval Form and turn it in to Mr. W.

Research and Rough Draft: Your rough draft will vary based on which option you choose to complete for this assignment.

Letter Option:Students will write at least a 1½ page single-spacedletter to any group or person that relates to an issue we have discussed in class about which the student has a passionate opinion.

In the letter, you should..

  • Introduce yourself and explain that you are taking 21st Century Issues at Barrington High School. Explain what topic you are interested in discussing and why you think it is important.
  • Explain what you know about the topic from class and from independent research.
  • Explain your opinion about the topic and what you believe should be done and why.

Letter formatting specifics:

The letter should be at least 1 ½ pages single-spaced(Times New Roman 12 font, 1” margins)

The letter must be turned in with an envelope that has the correct address on it.

The letter must have the following return address in the upper left corner:

Kurt Weisenburger (Social Studies)

(Attn: Your Name Here)

Barrington High School

616 West Main Street

Barrington, IL 60013

The letter must be proofread by a teacher in the ARC prior to your rough draft meeting with Mr. W. Have the teacher sign off that he/she has read the letter and checked for grammatical errors.

Cartoon Option:Students will create a political cartoon that takes a stand on an issue about which the student has a passionate opinion. You will also write a short paper which explains your cartoon.

Your cartoon should..

Show your opinion on the issue in a creative/provocative/entertaining way.

Fill an entire standard white sheet of computer paper (11” x 8.5”).

Be colorful and show that you put effort into making it.

In your cartoon explanation paper, you should..

  • Explain the topic of the cartoon using what you learning in class and from additional independent research.
  • Explain your opinion about the topic and what you believe should be done and why.
  • Explain how that opinion is shown in your cartoon.
  • Be 1-2 pages (Times New Roman, double-spaced, 12 font, 1” margins)

Bring your research and your rough draft of either your letter or your cartoon to your meeting with Mr. W. a week before your assigned due date.