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Friday, March 8, 2013

Students' Rights: Great Cases to Get Them Thinking

Want them to write?  Find their passion.
I was recently involved in a #njed twitter chat on BYOD.  A large group of people enthusiastically contributed their experiences and points of view on how a successful BYOD program might look and run and some of the benefits and disadvantages of having students bring in their own devices.  I noticed that there was a student involved in the discussion (how cool is that!) and when asked how she felt about students bringing in their own devices, she responded that”…students who have the devices should have the right to bring their own devices…”
There were two things that were very cool about this whole discussion and her being involved - # 1 she was participating in a great real life authentic critical thinking activity as an equal with adults (how cool is that?) and #2 she was passionate enough to write what she believed to be students’ rights.
That is what I love about young people.  They are very clear and very passionate about their rights!  As we all are!
Try to see it my way…
This passion is something that we as teachers can harness to get kids thinking and writing.  Isn't that what we are trying to do with the CCSS focus on argumentative writing-get students reading nonfiction material from several reliable sources to put together a coherent argument?  This becomes a much easier task when you have (or they have) selected a topic that they care about – whether it be their privacy, rights, or their cell phones! 
Do you own your phone?
The Bill of Rights Institute has a great lesson, Unlocking your Cell Phone – Property Rights in the Digital Age,  complete with downloadable student pages that sets up the issue, gives resources from different perspectives and great critical thinking questions surrounding the recent court decision that makes it against the law to unlock your cell phone so you can utilize another carrier.  Check out these resources that they provide:
A Right to Unlock Cellphones Fades Away
Date: 1/25/13
Source: NY Times
FCC To Investigate Cell Phone Unlocking Ban
Date: 2/28/13
Source: TechCrunch
What’s really happening with unlocked devices
Date: 1/26/13
Source: CTIA Blog

Beyond the Cell Phone
 It turns out there are a lot of good cases, past and present, that our students may be interested in.  Why not have them select one, do a little research and develop an argument for or against the rulings?
Can the principal search the texts and pictures in your cell phone?  And punish you for what they find?
I think that students would find the article on this case relevant and interesting to them.
Have them look at one of these lists and choose which case interests:
Have them look at some of these older cases with some of these interesting examples :
Can a student wear medieval garb for his yearbook picture?
Distribute an alternative newspaper?
Have a grade reduced due to an unexpected absence?
Have them look into some cases focused on students’ rights to free speech.

Using court cases involving their peers can make work relevant, stir their passions, allow them to develop arguments, see different perspectives and learn about their own civil rights.  Seems like a great way to get kids thinking!

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