KEY STANDARDS

Common Core: RI.6-8.1, RI.6-8.6, RI.6-8.7, RI.6-8.8, SL.6-8.1, SL.6-8.3, W.6-8.1, W.6-8.7

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

• Use this article to discuss student activism and the ability of young people to effect change.

• Include this article as part of a study of social movements in the U.S. throughout history.

• Incorporate this article into a discussion of the U.S. Constitution and/or the Second Amendment.

Before Reading

1. STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
(5 MINUTES)

Pose these essential questions to the class: Why has it been so difficult for the U.S. to address gun violence? Can student activism make a difference?


2. PREVIEW VOCABULARY
(5 MINUTES)

Share with students the definitions of some of the challenging vocabulary words and phrases in the article, including vigil, activism, sea change, poise, lobbying group, and galvanizing.

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Read & Analyze

3. INDEPENDENT READING
(20 MINUTES)

Have students read the article on their own, writing down any comments or questions.

4. CLOSE-READING QUESTIONS
(20 MINUTES)

Have students write their answers to each question, or use these prompts to guide a discussion.

  • ANALYZING DETAILS: How have some of the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reacted to the recent shooting at their school?
    (Several students have reacted by pushing for stronger gun laws in the U.S. The teens are organizing rallies and walkouts, meeting with politicians, giving televised interviews, and using social media to promote their cause.)

  • CAUSE AND EFFECT: How has the shooting at Stoneman Douglas and the activism of its students affected the national conversation on gun control?
    (The shooting and the Parkland students’ activism have inspired kids across the country to stage walkouts and take part in other protests. As a result, Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have raised the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21. And some states have taken steps to enact stricter gun control measures. However, other states have reacted to the shooting by moving to loosen regulations on firearms.)

  • CLOSE READING: What obstacles might student activists face in their quest for stricter gun laws?
    (Guns have long been a polarizing issue in the U.S. and in Congress, so the students are likely facing an uphill battle. For one thing, many Americans are opposed to gun regulations, arguing that the Second Amendment gives people the right to own firearms. Also, the National Rifle Association is a powerful lobbying group that fights against gun restrictions.)

  • EVALUATING ARGUMENTS: Consider the essay written by Parkland teen Christine Yared. What argument is she making? How does she support it?
    (Christine argues that it is necessary to have stricter gun laws. She uses her personal experience during the shooting to support the need to prevent further tragedies.)

Extend & Assess

5. ASSESS COMPREHENSION
Find out how well students understood the article by assigning the skills sheet Know the News—“We’re the Generation That’s Going to End It.

6. REINFORCE MAP SKILLS
Instruct students to look at the map. Ask students to identify states with the strictest gun laws. Have students identify the gun laws in bordering states. Discuss the role of state vs. federal law in the gun control debate.

7. CREATE A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
Explain to students that a public service announcement (PSA) is a type of ad that is meant to inform and educate rather than to sell something. Show students “Tomorrow’s News,” a PSA created by Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization founded in the aftermath of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, at sandyhookpromise. org/tomorrowsnews. (Note: The video may be upsetting to some students. Please preview it before showing it to your class.) Then lead a class discussion about the PSA. Possible discussion questions include: What are some of the issues raised in the PSA? What actions does the PSA suggest viewers take? What makes the PSA powerful? What techniques are used? After discussing the video, ask students to work in groups to create a PSA of their own on an issue they are passionate about. 

8. WRITING PROMPT
Explain to students that some people believe that the activism of the Parkland students—and the activism they’ve inspired across the country—will be a tipping point in the gun control debate. Do you agree? Write a brief essay, using evidence from the article to support

DIFFERENTIATING

Lower Level Have students add two additional ideas to the sidebar “How You Can Help Stop School Violence.”

Higher Level Ask students to conduct research to identify a politician or a company that has the potential to effect change on the issue their PSA covers. Then have students write a letter to that politician or company explaining their own position on the issue. Students can choose to send their letters and PSAs.

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