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Please add teacher created and/or recommended lessons or activities that are aligned to the PA Common Core in the table below. Please include as much information as possible in the description (including aligned standards). To add another line, simply place your cursor in the bottom right box and hit "Tab."
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Suggested Grade Level
Homemade Censorship Essay
This is a persuasive writing prompt which asks students to respond to an exchange of e-mails on the issue of censorship/alternative readings in public schools.
Students are asked to agree/disagree with positions on this exchange, as well as analyze the rhetoric/arguments employed by both parties in the exchange.
From: Carla Rich, Dir. Of Curriculum
Sent: Fri 1/8/2010 8:16 AM
To: Mr. Ferbic; Mr. Proust; Miss Towney; Mr. Gonza; Mrs. Hartman
Cc: Dr. Arbor, Principal
Subject: Controversial language/topics in novels
Hi Everyone,
I am contacting you because I received a heads up that at the upcoming board meeting on Monday, one of our school board members will be bringing up some concerns with one or more novels being read at the high school. I am not sure of the specific novels at this time. However, just to be prepared I'd like for all of you to send me a list of any novels which you teach that you feel contain controversial language/topics and a brief description (ex - use of nigger, sexual orientation, use of profane language, etc). Additionally, if you can please let me know how the novels with controversial language/topics fit into your curriculum, I would greatly appreciate it. I just want to be prepared for this board member’s concerns when he presents them on Monday night. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Carla, et al.
I'd venture to guess that any given individual might find objectionable something about almost any particular work taught at this high school or any other. Suffice it to say that any student/parent may request an alternative reading at any time. I know that I have readily accepted such requests occasionally in my career. I am sure the same type of request has occurred for many of my colleagues.
I believe that school district's protocol for handling such an issue is to discuss the objectionable material between the teacher, parents, and students directly involved. To bring such issues into the public forum immediately suggests to me that there may be some kind of political, social or religious axe to grind. It may become an opportunity for an individual to grandstand or stir up controversy which might well be entirely needless.
If the school board is desirous of starting to screen texts taught on any basis suggested: questionable language, questionable situations, questionable values, questionable information or opinion, etc., then we may be looking at an impossible, time-consuming and expensive task. If the academic or curriculum committee were to take every textbook, non-fictional or fictional text, poem, film, web page, streamed video, etc. used in the classroom into consideration for reasons that any one person finds objectionable, they would essentially be trying collectively to be able to anticipate objections about academic content of any kind in the present or the future based upon criteria which can not possibly be known.
That said, I am fully aware, as are my colleagues in the English Department, that teaching literature and writing requires a measure of sensitivity and tolerance for varied opinions and interpretations of texts. The State of Pennsylvania requires that we engage students in language arts by having them critically read various kinds of texts written in various styles for various purposes. We are also asked to hone their thinking and writing skills by having them respond to the spoken or written word.
John Milton, a noted English, Puritan writer, expressed many thoughts on the issue at hand here. Here is an excerpt from his "Areopagitica"(1664):
Since, therefore, the knowledge and survey of vice
is in this world so necessary to the constituting of
human virtue, and the scanning of error to the
confirmation of truth, how can we more safely, and
with less danger scout into the regions of truth and
falsity than by reading all manner of tractates and
hearing all manner of reason? And this is the
benefit which may be had of books promiscuously
To submit a list of the works that I currently teach or have taught that I feel someone might find objectionable on some basis is to ask me to submit a list of every work I teach. I could isolate any single work and anticipate something that someone might find troublesome. (Most of the acknowledged classics like Shakespeare's plays could be objected to on some basis: Macbeth has witches; Hamlet speaks of incest; Othello has strong racial and sexual overtones and language; Taming of the Shrew is sexist; The Merchant of Venice is anti-semitic; Romeo and Juliet promotes defiance towards parents and glorifies teenage suicide.
I would hope that these kind of issues can be resolved by following standard protocols and hope that the board member in question might achieve some resolution in that manner.
Mr. Ferbic
Based on the above exchange of e-mails, write a reasoned argument either supporting or disagreeing with the teacher’s response to the director’s request for an a list of potentially objectionable novels.
Analyze the rhetorical strategies employed by both the director and the teacher in response to the parental request.
11th/12th CP or AP
Reading for Meaning Template
Template for Reading for Meaning Statements and "citing evidence"

Reading for Meaning Planning Template
Template for Reading for Meaning (planning units document)

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