Tag Archive for schoolhouse rock

American Lit: The Bill Of Rights

Standard: ELAGSE11-12RI9 analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preabmle to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

Learning Target: I can compare how a common theme is expressed in different foundational historical documents of the United States.

Opening Session: Schoolhouse Rock – The Preamble

Work Session: Look around the room – you’ll notice little signs. Go to the sign that you think is MOST IMPORTANT! They say:

  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom of Speech
  • Right to Bear Arms
  • Freedom from illegal search and seizures,
  • Right to Jury Trial
  • Right to not have cruel and unusual punishment
  • Not having to share your house with soldiers when you’re not in a war

After you’re there, we can see what the class as a whole thinks – and we can defend our positions, if you want!

Let’s head back to our own desks and read the Preamble to the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Then, I have some discussion questions for you!

  • Should there be limitations on freedom of speech?
  • Which of these freedoms are taken away the most by authorities?
  • To what extent are we as individuals responsible to ensure that everyone has these freedoms?
  • If you had to take one of the amendments out of the Bill of Rights, which would you remove? What would you replace it with? Why?

Closing Session: Go back to the signs around the room. Based on our discussions, has anyone moved to a different spot? If so, why?

Assessment: Informal – class discussions

Differentiation: Interest (students can move around the room and choose their own topics to debate)

Thursday Thursday, what’s your function…

(It’s not as cool when it doesn’t rhyme…)

Standard: W.9-10.1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

  • Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
  • Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.
  • Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
  • Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
  • Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

Learning Target: Students will take a vocabulary quiz and write a draft of their first essay.

Activator: Conjunction Junction!

Welcome to Thursday, everyone! The weekend is coming!!!!!

Today we’re going to start off with a vocabulary quiz over the words we did on Monday. Normally, you would do these on Friday, but….surprise! I managed to secure the media center for tomorrow so we can go type up our papers. So, surprise surprise, you get a quiz today! Here’s your word bank:






















After we finish the quiz, you’ll have the rest of class to finish your draft of your essay. I’ll scroll down to yesterday’s blog post and let you get to it! And then…tomorrow is FRIDAY!!


Right now, write. Now.

Standard: W.9-10.2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

  • Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

Learning Target: Students will begin drafting their public transportation writing assignment.

Activator: Schoolhouse Rock!

Writing Assignment: Public Transportation

Name: ________________________________________________ Block: _____________

The Metro Atlanta Area’s public transportation system is widely considered one of the worst in the country. Based on the group work we did Friday, and your classmates’ presentations, evaluate Atlanta’s public transportation system.

Thesis statement: Before you can write this essay, you will need to make a claim about the prompt. A claim should do all of the following:

  1. Make a complete statement (a full sentence)
  2. Be presented as fact (i.e., do not say “in my opinion…”)
  3. Be something you could argue about (i.e., you cannot argue “there are many types of public transportation,” but you could argue “public transportation is a waste of tax dollars.”)


  • Take a moment to think about the various ways to get around Atlanta that we have discussed as a class. Make a statement about Atlanta’s public transportation system. Do you think the system we have is fair and efficient? Shouldn’t “public” transportation be available to all of the public? Shouldn’t Atlanta’s public transportation system take you to anywhere within the metro Atlanta area? Or are the transportation options we have sufficient? If it is so bad, why was it made this way in the first place, or why hasn’t it been changed? If you have knowledge of a public transportation system from another city (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, etc.) you may use that knowledge to help you judge Atlanta’s system.


  • Now, fill in the following sentences:

Atlanta’s public transportation system is _________________________________ (good, bad, efficient, inefficient, outdated, modern, etc.) because ______________________________________.


The biggest problem with Atlanta’s public transportation system is ___________ because _______________________.


The problems with Atlanta’s public transportation system could be solved by:

Now, compose your own thesis statement which makes a claim about Atlanta’s public transportation:


  • Now, using these two sources, you are going to find evidence to back up your thesis statement. Find and highlight three quotes from each source. These quotes should prove that your thesis statement is correct.

Source A

Top of Form

Excerpts taken from Atlanta Magazine

Where It All Went Wrong:  If only we could undo the MARTA Compromise of 1971

Posted on August 1, 2012 by Doug Monroe

At the heart of the rot eating at metro Atlanta is the Mother of All Mistakes: the failure to extend MARTA into the suburbs. It wasn’t just a one-time blunder—it was the single worst mistake in a whole cluster bomb of missteps, errors, power plays, and just plain meanness that created the region’s transportation infrastructure.

Before we get into the story of what happened in 1971, we need to back up a few years. In 1965 the Georgia General Assembly voted to create MARTA, the mass transit system for the City of Atlanta and the five core metro counties: Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett. Cobb voters rejected MARTA, while it got approval from the city and the four other counties. Although, as it turned out, the state never contributed any dedicated funds for MARTA’s operations, in 1966 Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment to permit the state to fund 10 percent of the total cost of a rapid rail system in Atlanta. Two years later, in 1968, voters in Atlanta and MARTA’s core counties rejected a plan to finance MARTA through property taxes. In 1971—when the issue was presented to voters again—Clayton and Gwinnett voters dropped their support, and MARTA ended up being backed by only DeKalb, Fulton, and the City of Atlanta.

The 1965 and 1971 votes against MARTA by residents of Cobb, Clayton, and Gwinnett weren’t votes about transportation. They were referendums on race. Specifically, they were believed to be about keeping the races apart. Consider the suburbanites voting back then. The formerly rural, outlying counties had exploded with an astonishing exodus of white people fleeing the city as the black population swelled during the civil rights era. This mass migration came at a time when Atlanta was known through its public relations bluster as “The City Too Busy to Hate.”

Aside from political vengeance and racial politics, another enormous factor was at play in transportation policies of the 1960s and 1970s: Atlanta’s love affair with the automobile. The great migration out of the city started in the late 1950s—just as workers at General Motors’ vast Lakewood assembly plant in southeast Atlanta put the finishing touches on one of the most iconic cars in history: the 1957 Chevy.

The allure of roaring around Atlanta in cool cars took over and never let go. Once MARTA started running, who would ride a bus or subway when they could drive a sleek, powerful car and fill it with cheap gas? Only the people who couldn’t afford the car. MARTA became an isolated castaway, used primarily by poor and working-class blacks. Racist suburbanites brayed that the system’s acronym stood for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.”

Atlanta’s failure to build out MARTA looks even more shameful when compared with what happened with similar transit systems in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., which started at the same time as MARTA, she says. “The reality is, this region got stuck. We have about half the build-out of what it was planned to be.” But San Francisco and Washington “kept building and moving . . . they had plans regardless of whether folks were red or blue. They had a vision and the fortitude to make purple and keep moving. We just got stuck.”

MARTA was born out of Atlanta’s giant ego in the days when the city was entering the major leagues across the board—baseball, football, international airport—bolstered by a racially harmonious reputation unmatched in the South, deserved or not. “You said to yourself, ‘We’re top-notch. Everybody’s got to have a rail system,’” Scott says. “But it was built as a manifestation of ‘we have arrived’ without a bigger vision of ‘what do we want to do for our region?’ You built it like a trophy.” Indeed, some of the Downtown MARTA stations were built on a scale that would please a pharaoh.



Source B

It’s Not Easy Being a Transit Advocate in Atlanta

Last July, residents of Atlanta took their long pent-up frustration with some of the worst traffic congestion in the country to the voting booth. On the ballot: a one-cent sales tax increase, projected to raise billions of dollars over 10 years to improve local roads, upgrade the transit system, build out streetcars, trails and Bus Rapid Transit. The vote was, in and of itself, a major milestone in this car-bound city.

“Congestion is bad here and we’re not unaware of it – everyone in Atlanta wants to do something about it,” says Ted Bradford, a local transit advocate. “It really came to a head when we decided ‘are we going to come together and cooperate and tax ourselves at a higher rate and do something about it?’”

The answer, at the end of the day, turned out to be ‘no.’ Nearly two-thirds of voters rejected the referendum, leaving Atlanta, now six months later, in a particularly painful predicament.

“There’s definitely a feeling here that the people who ride the bus are not ‘people like me.’”

“How do you change something without a budget for it?” says Matt Santy, another Atlanta transit advocate, posing the question as if it were a bleak inside joke.

Atlanta, like a lot of Southern cities, long ago passed on transit infrastructure – and the kind of culture that grows up around it – for an all-in commitment to the car. Now, people like Santy and Bradford will endeavor to make up for that inheritance with the only assets they can afford: human capital and cheap technology.

“Even if we change hearts and minds all over Atlanta and Georgia,” Bradford says, “we’re never going to be in a situation where we’re going to start recreating a massive subway-heavy infrastructure like New York. It’s no longer that time. We don’t have a Robert Moses, we don’t have the money. We don’t have anything like that.”

There’s no point in waiting for big projects, let alone the next big referendum. “There’s a realism here,” says Bradford, who has been planning along with Santy and others to jumpstart the conversation with a one-day conference, TransportationCamp South, on February 9. It’s planned as the kind of grassroots, developer-friendly confab that happens regularly in New York City. But even the idea of hacking transit data is novel in Atlanta: The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, one of the last major metro transit agencies in the country still guarding its real-time arrival data, finally opened it to the public in the fall.

So where do Atlanta transit advocates start at this point? The best they can do now, Bradford figures, is to try to improve existing service at the margins – for one thing, make bus service more predictable by building a reliable tracking app. That relates to Bradford’s other goal, which is, as he puts it, to “ennoble” bus ridership.

Southern cities often overly rely on bus service in the absence of more rail infrastructure. But the ridership on those bus systems still pales in comparison to similar-sized cities elsewhere. As Eric Jaffe has previously written, less than 4 percent of Atlanta residents get to work by transit. The city has a small-scale rail network best known for shuttling people to and from the airport, with pretty predictable arrivals every 12 or 15 minutes.

“Most people in Atlanta don’t live close enough to a train station to really care when a train is coming,” Santy says. Passengers can wait for the bus, on the other hand, for 45 minutes, and that unpredictability compounds the stigma attached to riding it. There’s even a cottage industry of viral videos on YouTube, Bradford laments, mocking MARTA riders.

“There’s definitely a feeling here that the people who ride the bus are not ‘people like me,’” says Kari Watkins, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech who is also helping to organize the conference. In other cities, people ride transit for a variety of reasons that go beyond financial necessity: because it’s the quickest alternative, or because it affords passengers the opportunity to get work done on a smart phone, or because it’s the more environmentally friendly option.

But those motivations – especially that last one – aren’t terribly prevalent in cities like Atlanta. And it can be hard to understand this from, say, a New York City subway platform.

“They have a storied subway system, and it’s steeped in history, and it’s kind of considered a noble thing,” Bradford says. “It’s easy for people to participate in something that’s noble and historic, that has these good connotations with it, whereas MARTA is more of a Great Society, mid-century liberalism project.”

And it’s one that many people in Atlanta (and even legislators in the statehouse) never really embraced. Now advocates will try to improve MARTA’s reputation by gradually improving its service. A traffic signal system that prioritizes transit could be one way to do that without a major construction project. And ultimately, slowly, Watkins suggests, as transit’s image changes, maybe more residents will be willing to see the value in it with future funding decisions, even if they don’t chose to ride transit themselves.

Other improvements – like bike lanes – wouldn’t require costly construction either (come to think of it, our emphasis on “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects in the Recession era completely ignores the fact that sometimes shovels aren’t necessary at all). In all of this, Atlanta doesn’t really have other cities to look to.

“I don’t know that there is another model for us,” Watkins says. Similar-sized transit agencies and cities are mostly on the West Coast, the Northeast, or in Chicago. “And we are not those,” Watkins says. But Southern cities with similar challenges might make progress if they began to band together, as she, Bradford and Santy now hope they will. “It’s easier to do all of these things,” Watkins says, “if you’re also changing Raleigh and Chattanooga.”

Top image: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock

Emily Badger is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. Her work has previously appeared in Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Christian Science Monitor, and The New York Times. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area. All posts »

  • Now, you need to explain how these quotes prove your thesis is correct. On a separate sheet of paper, rewrite each quote, along with a 2-sentence explanation of how that quote proves your thesis.

Comma comma comma comma comma chameleon…

Welcome to FRIDAY!!! Tomorrow is the WEEKEND!!!!

Well, change of plans. We were going to have some vocab instruction today, but it turns out first block is going to the Black History Month celebration program! So you guys will be cut short, and we’ll do vocab on Monday!

Standard: L.9-10.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Learning Target: Students will make revisions to their argumentative essay and practice their grammar and punctuation skills.

Activator: Lolly Lolly Lolly!

Today we’re going to be talking about PUNCTUATION!!!! That’s our grammatical focus for the moment, so if everyone turns to the green part of your grammar packet, we’ll discuss all the many varied ways you can punctuate your writing  🙂

After that, I have some punctuation humor for you! First:

A humorous example of the importance of punctuation!

And now, 8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

Next up, I have a game for you! I’ll put this up on the board while I do vocab quizzing. If you would like, one at a time, you may come up to the board and play the comma chameleon game.

While we’re doing that, you should be working on makind any necessary corrections to your argumentative essay, which I’ll be grading over the weekend. If you didn’t finish on Tuesday, now is the time to do so – by hand. Sorry. No, I lied, I’m not sorry.

And we will end the day on The House of the Scorpion. See y’all Monday!

The Alot is Better Than You at Fridays.

Welcome back to class, everyone! Today is FRIDAY and you know what that means – GRAMMAR AND VOCAB!!

The Alot

I do. I really do.


Learning Target: Students will show off their knowledge of vocabulary on an oral quiz, and make grammatical corrections to their most recent essays for a chance to earn back lost points.

Activator: Unpack your adjectives!

Today, of course, is vocabulary day! Ms. B or I will come around and quiz you while the other one teaches us about one of my favorite fluffy animals, the alot. Did you know that the alot is better than you at everything? Why don’t we let our friends over at Hyperbole and a Half tell us more about the alot?

Anyway, with that out of the way we’re going to get out our Awesome Grammar Handbooks and flip to the pink section and learn a little bit about agreement. It’s really important to have your words agree with each other – otherwise how will you get anything done? After we cover the information in the pink section, I want to give you guys time to make corrections on your essay that you turned in on Tuesday. Remember, any corrections you make now will not be counted as errors when I go to grade the essay. If you didn’t manage to get your essay finished, you can continue writing it now by hand.

When we finish all of that, we’ll read some more in The House of the Scorpion. Also, so ya know, as soon as I get some masking tape I’ll hang your body biographies up in the hallway! If anyone needs a bit of extra time to finish before they go on display, now would be the time to take it 🙂