Informed Citizen Project


English 3 Honors Trottier

Informed Citizenship Project

A major objective of this course is to develop ideas about informed citizenship. In the 21 st

century, you are bombarded with information every minute of every day, and the ability to make a reasonable decision about what is significant and reliable information is a complex task. Technology brings this information

directly to you, a 24/7 newsreel as your constant companion.

To assist you in developing the tools to navigate this wealth of information, you’ll be involved with

Monday Matters, a weekly assignment that asks you remain an informed citizen who is able to decipher

credible news and critically analyze the messages. This information will also help you as you develop and expand your own arguments. In addition to becoming more informed, you will practice concise summary and analysis techniques by limiting your responses to a four-sentence précis.

Each Monday (or the 1 st

school day of the week), you will bring to class with you an assignment that addresses a key skill in researching and synthesizing key issues, observations, and voices.

We will use the “rhetorical précis” formula attached.

Starting next week you will follow a current major storyline that is dominating American news through

December. You will be responsible for locating articles that present an unbiased reporting of the story, as well as articles that take up different sides of the story. Your job will be to follow the story over time, see how it changes, see what happens when new information is discovered, and to try and observe how the

American public is affected by the story.


As previously mentioned, before the end of the semester you will give a speech in front of the class in which you present information regarding the story you have been following throughout the semester. In your speech will present and evaluate the following:

The truth of the story: o

Facts o

What has happened during your time covering it

Your side of the story, or the thesis statement for your speech. You will give your opinions based off of the facts and off of column and editorial writers who have taken up a similar position as you have regarding the issue you are following.

You will also discuss the counter-argument, the opinions of those who are against you. But just like in writing, you will explain the fallacy of those who disagree with you regarding the story you are following.

Your speech should be about 2-3 minutes in length at least. And this speech is part of your final exam grade.

Types of News

There are 2 basic kinds of news- Hard news and Soft news. Hard news is basically front-page stuff-

Concise, brief, to the point and only presents facts of the news in a minimalistic manner. Soft news, on the other hand, involves news pieces such as editorials, columns, etc. in which the news article is elaborate and speaks an entire story or provides collective opinions of an individual/group on that particular news topic. Once again, you will be responsible for collecting both kinds of news and incorporating this into a speech at the end of the semester.

Suggested Stories to Follow

Edward Snowden leaking classified information

National Security Agency (NSA) violating American Citizens’ privacy

American and Russian hostility

The use of Drones by the United States Military


Fallout of the Trayvon Martin verdict

Gun violence in Chicago

Gay marriage

Gun laws

Immigration reform

These are just 10 suggestions, but there are many other possibilities of stories for you to cover. But once you select a story it is important to stay with it, as you will need information from a wide time range to see how the story changes. And if you are selecting a story that is not on the list above it needs to be approved by me before you begin.

How to find Stories

The best and easiet way to follow your story/find a story that you want to follow is through the news section on google’s homepage. After going the just click on the news link at the top of the page. Once hear you can narrow your search ever further by any of the following:

Clicking on the U.S. link on the left side of the page to narrow the search to only major storites occuring in the United States.

Or do a search of your story, just like a regular google search. But, before doing a search, make sure you have already clicked on the news section of google.

Create an email alert for all stories regarding the story you are covering by scrolling to the bottom of the page after you conduct a search for the issue you want to follow. By doing this the information will come to you versus having to search for every day yourself.

Follow various respectable news organizations on Twitter such as: Reuters, CNN, The Associated Press,

NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune (or all of these organizations have free phone apps, download them to your phone).

Rhetorical Précis Formula:


a summary of the essentials of a text; abstract

Paragraph 1

Sentence #1 will include the following:

Name of the author and (if possible: a phrase describing the credentials of the author)

The title of the work and publisher (New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc.)

The date, if available (inserted in parentheses)

A rhetorically accurate verb (such as “assert,” “argue,” “suggest,” “imply,” “claim,” “deny”,

“disprove,” “explain,” “affirm,” “alleges,” “attack,” “calculate,” “confirm,” “consider,” “declare,”

“defend,” “challenge,” “deny,” “agree,” “acknowledge,” etc.) that describes what the author is doing in the text

A THAT clause in which you state the major assertion (thesis statement) of the author’s text

Sentence #2 will include the following:

An explanation of how the author develops and/or supports the thesis (such as by comparing and contrasting, narrating, illustrating, defining, etc.)

Present your explanation in the same chronological order that the items of support are presented by the author in the text

Sentence #3 will include the following:

A statement of the author’s purpose

Followed by an IN ORDER TO clause in which you explain what the author wants the audience to do or feel as a result of reading the work

Sentence #4 will include the following:

A description of the intended audience

A description of the tone the author uses

Example Informed Citizenship Précis

Washington D.C. National Reporter for the Associated Press, Hope Yen’s August 9, 2012 article, “Postal

Service Reports $5.2B Loss in 3 rd

Quarter,” appearing on, explains that the United States Postal

Service is nearly bankrupt and will require immediate action from Congress in order to reverse trends. Yen reports on the overall loss of revenue and cites the Postmaster General’s request for Congress to act quickly on legislation that will help provide financial relief. Yen’s purpose is to inform the public about the changes that will need to be approved in order to avoid private sector job losses, disruption of mail delivery, and further financial crisis for the Postal Service. Given the logical data and accessibility of the language, as well as the appearance in the Associated Press, Yen is writing to the national audience using a candid tone.

Paragraph 2:

In the second paragraph you will evaluate at least 2 different arguments/assertions made by the writer.

You should identify the type of argument being made, the strength of the argument, and whether or not you agree with the thesis of the article.