Who Is a Person in America?

Assessment for TASK III
DEBATE: Who is a Legal Person in Your American Society?
For much of the first quarter we have pondered the question: Who is a legal person in American society? Our inquiry began while researching “How 9/11 changed us?” Many of the research groups reported that over the last decade Americans traded some of their privacy rights to feel safer. This preference for greater national security is evident in omnipresent surveillance cameras, invasive airport security procedures, bag searches and restrictions at sport and entertainment venues, the new federal bureaucracy of Homeland Security, and the de facto profiling of persons of Middle Eastern descent.

Is this a normal response when we are afraid? Was our reaction to 9/11 consistent with how Americans have responded to insecurity in the past? To answer this question we studied past events, which raised the fear that another person or group of people might harm us. In addition to the facts of each event, researchers analyzed the prevailing debate and identified two opposing points of view. We then examined the legal rights involved in a minimum of 16 of these events. Concurrently, Mr. Peyton and Ms.Fehling exposed us to current controversies on rights ripped from the headlines

Now its time for you to transition from a student to an advocate and take a position on civil rights and liberties. In two or three years you will receive the privilege to vote. Have you thought about the kind of society that you want to live in? What liberties, rights and privileges do you as a citizen have a right to expect? What about documented foreigners? Undocumented immigrants? Minor children of undocumented immigrants? Corporations? The Unborn? Prisoners incarcerated for nonviolent crimes? Native Americans? Gay Persons? Terrorist suspects? Should preferences be offered to “Protected Classes”? Do persons have the right to decide when to Die? Who should control Reproductive Rights?

We challenge you to consider the lessons offered in history and the daily news to create a more perfect society than you live in today.
What rights and privileges can Americans expect? What will you change? Who will you include or exclude? How will you answer the question:
Who is a legal person in your American society?

We will debate this issue on Thursday and Friday October 27th and 28th
To prepare for the Debate, you will complete the following tasks.

Task III: Organize the Caucuses and Prepare the Caucus' Position on the
Project Question: Who is a Legal Person in Your American Society?

Caucus Members:

CAUCUS Presentation Pages

Caucus A
Caucus B
Caucus C
Caucus D
Caucus E
Caucus F
Caucus G
Caucus H
Katie V
Alex K.
Michael M.
John M.
Sarah M.
Michael W

Sarah H.
John S


Assessment for TASK III
Time Line
Friday, October 21: Caucuses will be assigned based on survey responses. Groups will get together to:
  • Draft a clear statement that expresses the group's vision of an ideal American society.
  • Decide on three distinct areas of support for your vision.
  • Assign specific areas that each member will research over the weekend.

Tuesday, October 25: Groups will meet again.
  • You must bring an annotated, printed copy of the evidence/source(s) that you found (20 points).
  • Share their research and determine what else needs to be done.
  • The caucus will write a detailed outline of their vision and the three arguments which we will collect at the end of the period. Group members will be evaluated on how well they collaborate to produce a quality outline on time (20 points).
  • Each group member will take responsibility for writing one of the three arguments. (Larger groups may have two people writing one argument; but each person still writes his/her own extended paragraph. The caucus will choose the best parts of each argument.) This is a summative assignment and should be organized as an extended power paragraph using evidence from all three sources (History Timeline, Current Topics, Literature Circles). Sources should be cited correctly. The extended paragraph should be edited and polished and posted on the wiki before class on October 26th (20 points). Bring a hardcopy of the extended paragraph to Wednesday's class
  • (5 points). This is your TICKET to participate in the group. Timeliness matters; if you do not do your part the caucus cannot move forward.
  • Also, while researching evidence for the extended power paragraph, select photos that can be used in the powerpoint. Make a note of these images at the end of the power paragraph and cite the source of the images in the works cited.

Wednesday, October 26: Groups will get together
  • The group will review, edit and polish the vision statement. Next group members will select the best parts of each extended paragraph to develop three well constructed arguments. Finally, brainstorm and write the call to action. Divide the responsibility for polishing and posting the Vision, the three Arguments, and the Call to Action. These 5 tasks should be shared evenly by group members.
  • Select the images that will be used in the powerpoint and assign responsibility for creating the powerpoint. Post the powerpoint on the wiki as you would a photo. Save the photos on the desktop, click Edit, File, Upload, choose powerpoint, Save.
  • Prepare the banner, the continuum, and the wordle of your presentation on you caucus wiki.
  • A participation grade will be assessed for following through on the your responsibilities to the group (20 points).

Thursday, October 27:
  • Caucuses Presentations (50 points) and Audience Participation (20 points)

Task III: Caucus' Position Statement Has Two Parts
Caucus members collaborate to reach a consensus on their vision of the ideal American society. We want groups to create their own vision.
To help the audience understand the vision, describe the significant values, relationships, incentives, and goals of this ideal society and explain how your vision will be an improvement over the society we have now.

Need help developing a vision?
We want you to create your own vision, but if you are not sure where to start, think about the following examples.

1. A society based on a Social Contract between the government and the citizens. The United States was founded on the idea that sovereign individuals created a government to do things that they could not do themselves. As long as the government fulfilled its obligations to the people, it was given limited power over them. But when that government failed to protect individual rights or perform its duties to the citizen, it lost the consent of the governed and was replaced. This concept is based on John Locke’s ideas and is called the Social Contract Theory.

2. A Meritocracy is a society that rewards talent and ability. The best and brightest members of society rise to leadership positions regardless of race, gender or social economic status.

3. A Rule of Law society believes that the law reflects the will of the people, is written for all to see and is known and applied equally to all citizens. If changes are needed in the law, then an amendment process should be followed to change the law.

4. A society based on Individualism is believes that each person creates his own talents and opportunities. Even an individual born into poverty can through hard work, perseverance and the force of character pull himself/herself "up with his own boot straps". Andrew Carnegie is the quintessential individualist rising from "rags to riches". The Great Man Theory postulates that history is made by extraordinary individuals.

5. Second Chances and Safety Net Society. Individuals are encouraged to take risks and strive to reach their potential and if they make mistakes or fail society will help them start over. Society is also responsible for caring for the young, the sick, the impoverished and the elderly.

6. A Right to Rise society is dedicated to creating circumstances that offer equal of opportunities for all to reach their potential. This vision was held by Abraham Lincoln.

7. A society that accords status and success based on who your parents are and who you know. Connections to others, where you grew up, and where you live have greater importance than you individual talents and abilities.

8. A society based on the concept that “It takes a Village” to help individuals reach their potential. Individuals are accountable to the group. The community helps the citizens progress. This is the society Malcolm Gladwell describes in Outliers. Individuals are successful because they mentored, parented, coached or enjoy social circumstances that give them a head start.

Develop three arguments that offer the rationale for your vision. These arguments will analyze the values and beliefs that underlie your perfect society. These are the roots of your vision; the reasons why you chose to exclude or include individuals in your society. While the vision is your Caucus’ creation, the Three Key Elements must be based on your study of history as drawn from the Time Line Topics, the Current Issues discussed in class and summarized in the One Minute Debates, and your experience with the books that you studies in the Literature Circles.

Each of the three arguments will defend and flesh out your vision with evidence from a minimum of three sources drawn from the historical event on the history timeline, a current issue from the One-Minute Debate Topics, a book read in literature circles. In other words, the speech will garner support from a minimum of NINE sources.

Parts one and two will compose the core of the speech that your caucus will give on Thursday, October 26th. This statement of your position will be given collaboratively to the class and published on the wiki to the digital world. The speech format will be an extended version of the one-minute speech—7-8 minutes in length—and follow the format of the one-minute speech. As the speech is presented to the class, photos representing those whose rights will be changed by your society will be referenced in a power point presentation. The power point will offer visual representations of your position, not provide a note card for the speakers.

TASK I: ONE MINUTE ARGUMENT: Your TICKET to participate in the GROUP activities.
Each student will give a one-minute speech in which he/she develops one side of the argument on an assigned current issue.
The speech should be organized in an extended power paragraphand advance a compelling argument for one side of the controversy. Keep your audience in mind when selecting evidence that will be most persuasive to teenagers. Use rhetoric (employ language that evokes ethos and pathos) and logic (reason through the cause and effect relationship) to craft your argument.

This is a summative assignment so showcase you best writing and research skills. Make sure that you introduce evidence by explaining the credibility of the source with an appositive phrase. Internally cite the source* and place the Works Cited immediately after the paragraph. The writing should be free of mechanic and surface errors. Post your extended power paragraph to the Pro/Con Table located on your topics' wiki page before class on Thursday, October 20th. To support your one-minute speech, prepare a 3 x 5 note card with a credibility statement for your source, your evidence, and keywords of your opening and closing sentences. PRACTICE in front of a mirror to gain confidence. Persuasive speakers speak to their audiences with expressive voices and engaging eye contact and body language. You may NOT cling to a podium and read your speech.
*Please highlight the evidence sentence in yellow, black text. Click "T" on menu bar, select background, yellow; text, black.

Assessment for TASK III
TOPICS for One Minute Debates: The topics were drawn from current issues presented and discussed in class. We gave you the context for the issue and some arguments. Your task is to develop one side of the argument--your topic assignment. You may use outside research but start with the information that you have in your notebooks.

One-Minute Speech Rubric
Advance a logical argument for one side of the controversy

Support the argument with two distinct pieces of evidence

Explain the credibility of cited sources

Engage the audience with eye contact, body language, audible and articulate speech

Employ rhetorical devices that evoke ethos and pathos

Make a focused, powerful speech free of extraneous information (respect the one-minute time frame)


1. End of life decisions are a personal matter to be decided by the individual and his/her loved ones.
2. To insure fairness, and "level the playing field," racial preferences must be included in college admissions decisions.

3. Overcrowded conditions in prisons are unacceptable and must be remedied.
4. Citizens on the Terrorist Watch List are entitled to the same rights and protections as all citizens.
5. Minor children of illegal immigrants are entitled to the same rights and protections as all American citizens.
6. Undocumented workers are entitled to the same rights and protections as documented workers.
7. Marriage is a personal choice and cannot be denied for gay citizens.
8. Gender preferences in the workplace are necessary to protect workers from discriminatory practices.
9. Heartbeat Legislation: A fetus is a person entitled to the rights and protection granted all citizens.
10. Persons with disabilities must receive accommodations to fully participate in American society
11. Native American customs and traditions supersede state and federal laws.
12. Women should decide if and when they reproduce.

During the speeches you will keep track of the arguments. As you listen to your classmates, think about the debate question: Who is a legal person in your America? Who will you include or exclude? How will you justify your decisions? Overall, where will you place your views on the following continuum?

Significant Exclusions-----------------------------------------------Society Today------------------------------------------------------------Significant Inclusions

After school on Thursday, October 20th, log on to Moodle and respond to the survey. The information that you share in the survey will help us group you in a Caucus or debating group.

Task III: Meet with Caucus, Organize and Divide Responsibilities fairly among group members.
Friday, October 21st
Based on how you responded to the Moodle survey, you will be assigned a caucus. The caucus is a group of persons who share similar perspectives on the question "Who should enjoy legal personhood in American society". The debate will be argued by caucuses. Each caucus will prepare a statement of its shared beliefs, explain its position on the debate question, and justify its
that position with evidence from the Time Line, Current Issues (Pro/Con TABLE), and the books read by the Literature Circles.