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A New Nation

In order to better understand US society, values and politics, we will be looking back to history and learn about the British settlers who established the first colony in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. Watch these videos:

Discuss with a partner and find answer to these questions:

  1. Why did the Americans decide not to have a king, do you think?
  2. In 1865, slavery was abolished, but racism still happened. Which Amendment abolished slavery? Can you think of examples of racism in America today? Give examples.
  3. What was the impact of the Civil War?
  4. The 15th amendment gave some people the right to vote. Who was eligible to vote, and who was not?
  5. What were the Jim Crow laws?
  6. When and why did the US enter WWI?
  7. Explain what Prohibition was all about.
  8. When did women gain the right to vote? And which amendment stated this?

A new year, a new career

As Congress reconvened after the holiday, you should learn about Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The many women of Congress is another interesting aspect you should learn about. Among them, the 28-year-old representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also worth knowing about. And last, but not least- the government shutdown. The conflict over border wall funding has led the country into a political stalemate. According to the BBC, this is the longest shutdown in US history.

After reading about the above, find out: What is the conflict all about and what are the consequences of it? Try to be as specific as possible. Visit these news sites: NYT, CNN, Washington Post (which has a daily podcast worth listening to) or the BBC. Discuss your finding in groups of three. Then write a blogpost about the political impasse and its consequences. This is homework for January 15, 2019.

Theresa May’s turmoil

Londoners bike past the Brexit protesters

The drama in British politics seems to never end!  It appears as if the Brits have misunderstood the saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”. After the Brexit referendum in 2016, Prime Minster May has carried out what many define as mission impossible:  negotiating Brexit with the EU while keeping the MPs at home satisfied AND trying her best to ensure that this deal will make as little damage to the UK economy as possible. 

Yesterday, May survived the confidence vote, although a third of her own MPs are against her. But what happens next? CNN states that the Brexit chaos remains. To learn more about Britain’s tumultuous time, it’s interesting to read what US media writes about it. Washington Post’s columnist Anne Appblebaum shares a comment that is worth reading. 

The NYT also shares some interesting aspects of this recent development which you can read about here. To be continued!

Of Mice and Men

Homework for December 13: Finish reading the novel and be ready to discuss the ending. What do you think is the theme (s)?  and what is the message of the book?  Why do you think the book is called “Of Mice and Men”? In class, write a blogpost about the novel – whether you liked it or not and why, discuss the characters, the setting, the narrative technique, and the themes. This blogpost will be graded. Deadline: Before class on Tuesday, Dec 18. 

On Tuesday, December 18, in class:

Make a podcast in groups of three or four discussing the novel’s setting (where, when, social environment), characters (flat, round, change), themes, title of the novel, resolution, narrative technique and its effect. Discuss: Is it ever right to kill someone?

 Length:5 (min), 10 (max) minutes. See the criteria for oral presentations/talks.

Deadline: Tuesday, December 18.

Characterization, setting and language

Dec 11: Read Pages 50-75.

Learn about literary analysis here.

In groups of 3, answer these questions/discuss:

  1. Give a brief summary of what happens, the plot.
  2. Describe the setting- where does the story take place in these pages?
  3. Are there any hints/foreshadowing as to what might happen later in the book?
  4. Who is Susy?
  5. Describe Whit- what kind of person is he?
  6. What is George and Lennie’s dream all about? And how does George describe it?
  7. Do you think this dream will come true for George and Lennie?
  8. DescribeCrooks.
  9. How would you describe the language used in the book? Give one example of the kind of language used.
  10. Comment on what happens to Curley.
  11. Discuss how Steinbeck presents the various characters. What literary “technique” isused?

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (1937)

George and Lennie

John Steinbeck’s acclaimed novel is our main focus in December and we will mainly focus on setting, characters, plot/structure,  tone, conflict, narrator and theme. To read about these literary features, see Ndla’s resources. 

Dec 6: Finish reading pages 1-50. On your blog, you should write about a. your first impression of the novel in general and of the two main characters in particular, George and Lennie.  

In addition,  b. Write a paragraph or two about the time the book is set in (setting). Make 5-8 questions to this first part. The questions will be used in class on Thursday, Dec 6.

Political Parties, Political Issues

Today you will be reading about the Democrats, the Republicans, Obamacare and the Latin American migrants seeking asylum in the US. 

On your blog, write a text about one of the following issues:

  • Write a brief text about the main differences between the Democrats and the Republicans. What states are red, which ones are blue? Find at least one political issue that the two parties disagree on.
  • Explain what Obamacare is, and find out what the status quo regarding this hot potato is. You may have to do some research to find out about the latest news.
  • Do some research and find out what the migrant caravan is, which has now reached Mexico. Who are these people, why are the seeking asylum in the US, what are they running away from, and what is the latest news regarding this? What has Trump said about this caravan?
GOP and Demo

The News This Week

Read this poem by artist Marc Woodward which he posted on Facebook. Discuss what the poem is about and why he decided to post it.

Marc Woodward's poem


Journalist for a day: In groups of 4, you will be working together and write two articles about a topic relevant to this course. Decide which articles to look more closely into and write one article in pairs. You need to refer and list your sources. As a starting point, you will look at this week’s news: 5 things you need to know and 10 Things you need to know today.  Post the articles on your blogs!

The American System of Government

founding fathers.jpg

American politics can be fascinating, but to better understand what is going on in the US, we need to understand what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they agreed on the Constitution in 1787. In groups of 3, work with these sources:

Discuss: what are the advantages and disadvantages of the US political system? Do you know of instances when the branches of government have come into conflict with each other?  Discuss whether the Supreme Court has too much power in the US or not. Do you think this is an extremely democratic form of government? Why/why not?

In pairs, take turns and explain the system of checks and balances. Then explain the role of the federal government.

Work with this exercise to learn relevant vocabulary to this topic:

Triumphant Trump?

I voted

Election results

Trump claims the midterms election was a success for the Republicans. Is he right? Today you will write a blog post about the outcome of the midterms when it comes to House/Senate representatives, newly elected female representatives, LGBT, minorities, and reactions from the world. How will this affect Trump’s policies?

Useful links: