Senate Confirmation of a Supreme Court Nominee: An Online Deliberation


Day 1 & 2:  VoiceThread Discussions

You will be participating in a VoiceThread discussion with another class from a different region of the United States.  In each VoiceThread, select two or three items on which to comment. 
Every post to the discussion must have two parts:
  1. A clearly written statement, response, or question (SRQ).
  2. Evidence to back up your SRQ.  Evidence can come from the image itself, and prior knowledge from readings and discussions in class. 

Remember, that quality is more important than quantity.  Discussion posts will be assessed on whether or not they have both parts, and whether at least one part is new to the discussion (i.e. either the SRQ provides an original thought or new idea, or the evidence is previously unused or is used in a new way).

Day 3 & 4: Research the Essential Question

Examine and evaluate the VoiceThread discussions, and the videos & articles about nominee Sonia Sotomayor that are provided to prepare for the Skype deliberation about the essential question:     

  1. Should a Supreme Court nominee's life experiences or other ideals/beliefs be used when interpreting the Constitution (or should the Constitution be interpreted at face value, literally)?                      
  2. Should a nominee's views on a particular issue disqualify that person from serving as a Supreme Court justice?
  3. Should a Senate Judiciary Committee seek out a nominees views on current legal or constitutional issues and past Supreme Court decisions (e.g. how they might rule on a particular case in the future)?       

Divide your class into groups (one for each essential question).  You must objectively analyze the pros and cons of the essential question and be prepared to discuss them later in the Skype deliberation with your out-of-state, partner class. 

Begin by individually completing the remote control activity for at least five videos and five articles (a total of ten sources).  The purpose of this activity it to guide your research as you become more informed about our system of checks and balances, as well as the controversies involved in the judicial nomination process.  For each resource, answer two questions from the "Key Questions of Media Literacy" side of the remote control, and two buttons from the "Turn Off and Discuss" side.

Then as a group, complete the PRO/CON activity. 
Each group member should use the worksheet while researching articles and videos, and then share their findings for the group to use when composing the final table.  Your group must cite at least 10 different sources in the PRO/CON table, five for the PRO side and five for the CON side.

The true test of your research will come during the Skype deliberation.  However, completion of these assignments are necessary to prepare you for the discussion.  Therefore, each is based on a five point scale:
     5:  Assignment is fully completed.
     4:  Assignment is more than half completed.
     3.  Assignment is half completed.
     2.  Assignment is less than half completed.
     1.  Assignment is barely started.

Day 5:  Skype Deliberation

Based on your VoiceThread discussions and the research that you have conducted, you will take part in a Skype deliberation exploring the essential question that you've been assigned.  The purpose of the deliberation is to explore the essential questions from the viewpoint of students in another geographical region of the country. 

Use the the Scored Discussion rubric provided to track the responses of 4 or more of your classmates depending on the size of your previous group .  The teacher should have students track the responses of the same group members from the Research groups.

The discussion will be moderated by the teachers of each class.  To achieve full credit, you must make 2 meaningful contributions to the discussion from the research section and 1 from the participation section of the rubric.  Maximum credit is 5 points.