The Change, a student-produced documentary on immigration
As the immigration reform bill begins to consume lawmakers in Washington in the coming months, students around the country had a head start to debate the issue online. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the lead Democratic negotiator, explains, "The American people have told us to do two things. One, prevent future flows of illegal immigration, and then come up with a common sense solution for legal immigration. And that's what our bill does."
The bill also makes changes to how foreigners can legally immigrate to the United States going forward. These changes are intended to make the process easier. However, only immigrants who came to the country before Dec. 31, 2011 can apply. To read more about the bill, you can visit to the KQED Do Now #75 prompt.
In Coppell, Texas, students at New Tech High @ Coppell overwhelmingly took over the debate last week in our weekly Do Now discussion. Educators Janelle Bence and Danae Boyd presented the activity to over 136 learners who all made compelling arguments about the issue. The majority of the conversation happened in the comments section of the KQED Do Now blog post. But, students also tweeted rich media that they produced, which consisted mostly of documentary and poetic videos about immigration.
Rookies in Ms. Bence's class debate immigation on KQED Do Now's website.
Last week's KQED Do Now investigated North Korea's threat to attack their neighbors and even the United States. In recent years, North Korea has made several threats to develop and deploy nuclear weapons on countries like South Korea, Japan, and even the United States. These type of threats were never met with major concern as it seemed clear that North Korea was not close to building weapons grade nuclear materials nor had the capability to fire long range missiles outside its border. Well, things have changed.
Students' responses to North Korea's warning varied greatly in terms of how the US should respond and whether the threat is crebible. Below are some of their ideas.
Should there be a minimum wage? was last week's question in our weekly Do Now. The issue addresses a few points: should there be one at all? Should the Federal Government raise the current minimum wage. Who would be affected by this? Students responded with insightful comments covering the full spectrum of this issue. Most of them identified how a minimum wage increase could be helpful and/or harmful.
President Obama endorsed the idea in his State of the Union address. He called for increasing the federal minimum wage in stages from $7.25 to $9 by the end of 2015, and then linking further increases to the rising cost of living. Right now for most workers it is set at $7.25, where it has been since 2009. This adds up to $15,080 per year which is just about equal to the poverty level for a family of two.
Read student responses below.
Last week's Do Now investigated the controversial issue of using drones in the military. According to a recent article in the New York Times, about 2,500 people have been killed in drone strikes by the Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. military since President Obama took office. And the program is expanding. 10 years ago, the Pentagon had about 50 drones; now there are 7,000 drones which range in size from large, Predator drones (costing $5 million or so) carrying laser-guided bombs, to tiny Hummingbirds, devices the size of insects and birds.
Below are most of the students' responses.
Last week's Do Now looks that the high school drop out crisis in America. Students from all over the country presents reasons they felt their peers are dropping out.
The conversation began with some grim statistics:
More than 20 percent of California high school students drop out of school before graduation, according to 2009 state education data. To get a sense of just how many, imagine sitting in your math class and counting out every fifth student sitting in class with you. In a class of 30, that would be six students.
Of course, 20 percent is just the average dropout rate in California. Some schools have a much lower rate, but for others, it's much, much higher. And in many cases, it's low-income areas with large minority student populations that have some of the highest dropout rates.
For instance, in 2009 more than one third of California's African American public high school students didn't graduate. That's far above the rate for any other ethnic group. Hispanics had the second highest rate, at 27 percent, according to the state's data.
Below is the conversation along with narrated slideshows from teachers from the Bay Area.
Last week's Do Now asked students to consider whether knowledge on the Internet should be open to everyone or protected by copyright law? This was based on the work by Aaron Swartz whose Internet activism was all about open and unlimited access to knowledge and the wealth of material available on the Internet. He built technology for the open licensing project Creative Commons and sought access to academic and research work which he felt should be freely available to further learning for the greater good.
The arguments about open access in relation to academia are these: JSORT articles are scholarly funded through research grants to academics for the purpose of advancing learning for all. As government funded assets, they should be publicly available. But does this argument apply to other types of information and data? Below are student responses.
The virtual classroom is really catching on in the U.S. with more than two million K-12 students taking classes online as an alternative and flexible way of learning.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown strongly supports this move away from the traditional classroom. He sees online college courses as a way to deal with the problem of overcrowded classrooms and hopes that through providing low-cost online classes, education will become more affordable for students. With this in mind, he is fostering partnerships between online learning programs and higher education, such as the partnership between San Jose State University and the startup Udacity. In his budget, he has allocated $17 million for community colleges and $10 million each for the UC and Cal State systems to expand online learning.
Last week's Do Now investigated this issue of online learning. We asked students if they felt that online learning better suits their needs or would it come at a cost. The responses were very mixed. Read below to from high school students as they discuss the advantages and disadvantages of taking courses online.
This week's Do Now Round Up focuses on one particular Storify project from Berkeley High School's Arts & Humanities Academy Fall 2012 Senior Interdisciplinary Project. For their final papers, students were assigned to explore the multiple narratives surrounding a variety of socio-political issues, with particular attention to how these narratives are developed, articulated, and perpetuated. They worked in groups of four and were responsible for first selecting a topic. This did not have to be an issue with a clear pro and con, but students were encouraged to consider topics that seemed to generate completely distinct interpretations based on audience or intention. One of the topics investigated video game violence...which fits perfectly with last week's Do Now. To view the other projects and better understand the assignment, you can access it all from this Storify post.
It may be poignant to add that Amanda Levin, the teacher who facilitated this project, is part of the advisory committee of KQED Do Now. Her students have been active participants in the weekly Do Now conversation. Her Storify assignment is a clear progression from Do Now as her students continue to explore social media as a viable resource for information gathering and distribution.
Last week's Do Now looked at different Cabinet positions that President Obama will be filling for his second term in office. We asked students what cabinet position they would be best suited for and why. It was interesting to hear students' interest in education, homeland security, defense, and even agriculture. See our Storify post below to view some of their responses.