November 10, 2014

Read Article 1 and 2 and then answer the questions that follow.

Article 1

As he stakes his education legacy on the Common Core State Standards, President Barack Obama has acquired some powerful if unlikely allies: the right-leaning Business Roundtable, Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.

Other Common Core champions include education-reform activists like Michelle Rhee, the controversial former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor, as well as the rank and file of both major teachers’ unions, several GOP governors in states that rejected Obama in 2012, and the National Parent Teacher Association.

There’s broad agreement on the objective: prepare kids to compete not only in college but in the rapidly-changing American job market and the high-tech, information-based global economy. Since U.S. schoolchildren have lost so much ground to other countries, Common Core advocates believe, the education system is long overdue for the overhaul.

Tyrone Howard, a professor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, says supporters believe the Core will help students “develop what are called ‘21st Century skills’ - how to problem-solve, how to think critically.” The curriculum, he adds, is designed as a tool to help students catch up with their counterparts in countries like China and Singapore, whose standardized test scores have surged past the United States’ in recent decades.

“On the surface, people can get behind those ideas,” Howard says. “But, as they say, the devil’s in the details.” While the objectives of the Obama administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan are clear -- upgrade the American education system to make students, and the country, more competitive globally -- many Common Core supporters have vested interests in its success.

For example, Bill Gates, whose global foundation provided millions of dollars to help develop Common Core, wrote in USA Today in February that the standards are “inspired by a simple and powerful idea: Every American student should leave high school with the knowledge and skills to succeed in college and in the job market.”

In recent years, tech firms in Silicon Valley, where Gates made his fortune, have argued that a shortage of American science talent forces them to recruit software engineers and developers from overseas. At the same time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, around 20 percent of incoming freshmen at four-year colleges and a quarter of first-year students at two-year schools need remedial courses in English or math.

Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - arguably the nation’s most powerful business lobbying organization - sides with Gates: schools, he says, have cut corners and the incoming labor pool is shallow on quality. In a Washington Post letter to the editor, Donohue fired back at critics like Post columnist George Will, arguing that Common Core “prepares students to succeed in the 21st-century economy.”

The standards are not “a federal program or a federal mandate. It was created at the state level. Curriculum remains within the control of districts, school boards, school leaders and teachers,” Donohue wrote. “Mr. Will and others should direct their outrage at school systems that tolerate low standards and churn out kids ill-prepared for college or a career.”

“What we need to have are tests that measure whether students are meeting the standards. [Testing] shouldn’t be the end-all and be-all,” said Bush, who tangled with his state’s teachers’ unions during his tenure as governor. If teachers teach to the standards, he said, “then you don’t have to teach to the test. [If] you teach to the standards, the test then is an accurate measurement of where we are.”


Article 2

Call it the Coalition of the Unwilling.

Groups ranging from the billionaire Koch Brothers on the right to elements of Occupy Wall Street on the left have found common ground against the Common Core Curriculum standards, the White House-backed initiative to bring 21st-century reforms to the American education system.

The push against Common Core features the usual antagonists of President Barack Obama, like Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who have accused the administration of strong-arming 45 states into accepting it. Conservative groups like the Republican National Committee and the Heritage Foundation -- which has dedicated an entire web page to criticizing it -- have joined the chorus of criticism.

The Common Core opposition, however, includes some traditional allies of the Obama administration, including parent-teacher organizations in a state that voted overwhelmingly for the president’s re-election, and the National Education Association (NEA), one of the country’s most powerful teachers’ unions.

“Common Core has become something of a Rorschach test,” says John Rogers, a professor and public education analyst at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. As a result, he says, “a very diverse political constituencies have been blended” to oppose it.

Although organizations like the Badass Teacher, an ad-hoc educators’ group, now stand with political machines like FreedomWorks -- a conservative and libertarian organization that poured money into the 2012 presidential election to try and defeat Obama -- their reasons for fighting Common Core depends on whom you ask.

Most traditional small-government conservatives say they like the idea of upgrading the education system, where educators have seen student test scores in smaller nations like Finland and South Korea soar while Americans’ have stagnated. But the Common Core opponents in their camp see the educational standards as another example of government overreach in violation of states’ rights.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), considered a 2016 GOP presidential contender, spoke for this faction last summer, warning that the White House was attempting to “[turn] the Department of Education into what is effectively a national school board … Empowering parents, local communities and the individual states is the best approach.”

Rogers says Rubio’s argument echoes the 1950s-era debate about local control, which in southern states “was about race and maintaining Jim Crow. Pleas for local control today are about something else.”

School-choice voucher proponents, for example, along with home-schooling advocates, conservative Christian academies and parochial-education groups, sense the fight over Common Core can help them recruit disgruntled parents. Libertarians, like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), believe the conflict could build momentum for their pet cause: abolishing the federal Department of Education.

Conservative broadcaster Glenn Beck and his followers, meanwhile, also believe Common Core is a back-door means for the government to spy on citizens and indoctrinate children in what Beck called “an extreme liberal ideology.”

But FreedomWorks and other powerful conservative groups, like the Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the Koch Brothers, have launched plans to stoke populist anger over Common Core and channel it into a national political force.

FreedomWorks has produced anti-Common Core videos as well as a political action plan, and has publicly stated it will mobilize supporters to pressure local officials on issues like private school vouchers, teacher unions and tenure. Their agenda also includes a jointly-sponsored, Beck-led rally in Washington later this year.

Like their allies on the right, liberals broadly agree that American students need to catch up with education leaders in the rest of the world.  But in Common Core they see a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach, drafted in private, that ignores how teachers teach and how children learn.

Name:__________________________________                  Date:________________

Media Literacy – Common Core articles


Article 1 –

Summary – (2-3 sentences explaining the major opinion within the article.)






1.      1. What could the title of this article be?


2.      2. Explain your thinking.


3.     3.  In paragraph 3, what words are used to describe Michelle Rhee?


4.      4. How does this impact a reader’s opinion?


5.      5. What is the following paragraph’s purpose in the article?


“Tyrone Howard, a professor at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, says supporters believe the Core will help students “develop what are called ‘21st Century skills’ - how to problem-solve, how to think critically.” The curriculum, he adds, is designed as a tool to help students catch up with their counterparts in countries like China and Singapore, whose standardized test scores have surged past the United States’ in recent decades.”


 Article 2 –

Summary – (2-3 sentences explaining the major opinion within the article.)






6.      6. What could the title of this article be?


7.      7. Explain your thinking.


8.     8.  Identify at least 3 phrases or words used to create a particular opinion about common core.


9.      9. What is the article’s most effective paragraph, in your opinion?


 10.  10. Explain your thinking.





October 30, 2014 Internet Assignment

Answer all questions in complete sentences unless otherwise directed. Be sure to be specific and thorough in all of your responses.


List of characters


1. American culture has always been conflicted about justice.  We want privacy, freedom from government snooping.  However, we also want absolute security – we want to know that evil people will be afraid to prey on us, and that if they do, they will certainly pay.  Inevitably, these two goals interfere with each other. At the beginning of this film, the undertaker Bonasero  comes to Don Vito Corleone.  Explain the undertaker’s disappointment with American justice. See script to refresh your memory.


2. Explain Don Vito Corleone’s view on justice.  Be very specific in this answer.  See script.


3. Think of the people within Don Vito’s close knit circle at the beginning. Friends, Acquaintances, Family:

a. Which ones benefited in the end?  Make a list.  (Details not needed)

b. In the end, which ones were harmed more than helped?  Make a list. (Details not needed)

c. What seems to be the movie maker’s point here?  What is Francis Ford Coppola saying about Don Vito’s way versus the undertaker’s way?

 4. Record 3 scenes or images that Francis Ford Coppola uses to make an emotional impact. Explain how each image or scene does this.

5. Like many movies, this film deals with what it means to be a real man.

a. What does Don Vito Corleone say about being a man? (Think back to the scene where Johnny Fontaine comes to him.)

b. What traits do we see in Vito and Michael, which portray them as real men?  (Ways the two of them frequently act or speak or think – often presented through visuals or little dramatic scenes)

c. In what specific ways does Sonny not measure up?  Johnny Fontaine?  Fredo?   (There is a lot more to say about Sonny than the other two.)

d. What qualities are important to masculinity, according to this film? Give specifics.


6.  The movie is, in a sense, an action flick.  It contains plenty of macho behavior and violence to appeal to men, especially those in their teens, twenties, and thirties. 

a. How did the movie manage to expand its appeal beyond the usual audience for violence and action? In other words, why do YOU THINK so many people love this movie? Think about its themes.


7. How can we look to the movie as evidence that  women were treated as if their feelings did not matter and they were expected to accept the idea that their goals were less important than men’s goals?  (You should discuss 4 different female characters in some detail.) 


8. In all eras, some people look for an upbeat view of life, for stories with happy endings.  How might this film have pleased such people?

9. Meanwhile, some people find happy endings to be naïve and unrealistic.  How might this film have pleased such people?


10. Who dies in this film and how? Make a list and also explain how the manner in which each character is killed fits with his/her role in the movie. You can create a chart.



11. How does this show that violence does not pay?



12. How does this show that violence does pay?



13. Why does the Godfather NOT want vengeance for his son? Think about loyalty, justice, violence.


14. One of the most famous scenes from the film is the baptism/murder sequence. Think about the music, the actions in the film, the symbolism of the baptism and what Michael says while the murders are going on. Write a few sentences about the contrast in these scenes.


15. This last question is a longer response and you should really spend some time on it. What is the message of this movie? Choose a theme that you think is best highlighted in this film. (American Dream, loyalty, family, etc) Choose one or two characters and events to help you discuss this idea.


October 9, 2014


Psycho Questions - Answer all questions and all parts of the questions. Label each.


1. How have visuals been used to emphasize the change in Marion between pictures #1 and #2?

Picture 1                                                


Picture 1

Picture 2
Picture 2



2.  How does  the picture below convey the idea that the damage has been done, now that Marion met Sam at the hotel? 


3.  How does this movie show that it is dangerous for a woman to want "too much"?


4. In what sense is female sexuality the root cause of Norman's destruction? (think about his mother and what happened to her)


5. Sum up the cultural message of this film regarding women's sexuality.


6. Money is usually said to be the root of all evil.  The Bible actually says that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Describe when and where the movie shows key characters incorrectly perceiving money as the problem. 

7. Explain how this movie was somewhat hypocritical, in that it condemned loose sexuality, but probably still sold plenty of tickets by portraying attractive sexuality. Spend some time on this and give lots of details.


8. This is a tough question, but if you READ it carefully, you really can answer it. 

a. Make a list and explain the people other than Marion and Norman in this film who fail to see or perceive things properly

b. Make a thorough list of the visuals in this movie that emphasize ineffective or failed efforts to clean up. 


9. The story line of the movie does not seem like that much:  A woman tries to steal the money needed to get married, but she gets murdered by a crazy guy.  Her boyfriend and her sister uncover the truth.

a. What details (plot and visuals) make the actual movie far more emotional than that plot summary sounds?



10. Identify and Discuss the large and small ways in which this movie implies that, although we feel bad for Marion, she was in a significant way responsible for her own death.

11.  What elements do you see repeated over and over throughout the film?  (One example is mirrors.)  Identify the repeated elements and explain why you think they are significant, or what they might mean.

12. What is the cultural message within this film? (hint: it has to do with personal responsibility of the 2 key characters.)

 13. Look up the birds Crane and Phoenix. Discuss how these are significant to the movie and characters.