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10/1/12 Tips for Teachers

September 30, 2012
Plain English Version

The U.S. Mission in Iraq Ends in Failure

With the interest of the country focused on the elections and crises in the Middle East, there is little discussion about Iraq.

It is not in the article, but ask students about how many U.S. service personnel they think were killed or seriously wounded in the war. The numbers are 4,487 killed and 32,223 seriously wounded.

The question is: was it worth it?

Would it have been worth it if this article reported a different result, such as a well-operated country, sending oil to the U.S. and providing stability in the region?

Since you cannot know the results when you go to war, was it reasonable for the U.S. to respond to the attacks of 9/11 in this way?

If students were in Iraq or knew people who served there, what did they learn from their experiences or the stories they heard?

Do stories like this one motivate students to read more about what is going on in the world or just add to their frustration?

Ask the students if it is important to be informed about world events.

Studies Show Link of Sugary Drinks to Weight Gain

The Times in Plain English presents lots of health news. Recently, sugary drinks have been in the news.

Do the students remember a recent story about New York City banning large sugary drinks? Who promoted the ban and where are the bans enforced? See NYC Bans Sale of Large Sodas.

Are the students persuaded by the studies – that sugar produces lots of calories and that lots of calories lead to weight gain?

The beverage industry does not like the study, saying soft drinks are a small part of the diet. Why is the beverage industry against reducing calories?

Should the government do more to discourage drinking sugary beverages, such as raising the taxes or banning them in school lunch programs?

Do people have a right to make themselves heavy and diabetic?

Families Spending More on Cell Phones

Where does the money come from to pay for ‘smart’ cell phones? It comes from money families used to spend on other things such as entertainment, autos and restaurants.

Are families wise to embrace social networking, wise to give their children cell phones? Is the new technology thoroughly embedded in our lives?

Does the story make it clear that this is a major change in the way we live?

As importantly, what should we do to help people become better consumers? The telecommunication companies such as Verizon and AT&T will make billions selling phone plans to consumers.

Are the students aware of the cost of their phone service? Do they shop around?

Ask the students what they use their cell phones for and where they might cut back if it became too expensive.

Does everyone really have enough money for text messaging and Twitter?

Deferment Program Puts Employers at Risk

There is little doubt now that the new deferment program for undocumented young people has risks for the applicants, their families and employers.

Would the students be worried about disclosing so much information to the government?

The phrase “unintended consequences” means things happen though no one saw them coming.

This story makes it clear that an employer who admits employing an undocumented worker puts his company at risk, even though that was not the intention of the government.

Some of the young people applying for the program call themselves “Dreamers.” What does that mean to the students. Does anyone of them consider themselves Dreamer?

What do they think the country should do about undocumented young people?

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