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Sub-unit: Guns In Our Lives: Researched Persuasive Essay

Day 1

  • First viewing of video “Guns in Our Lives” (See Resources) link
  • Anticipation Guide, Developing research questions.
  • On board or screen: Essential Question: What role do guns play in our lives?
  • Pass out a half sheet of lined paper.
  • On board: What are your thoughts and/or experiences related to guns?
  • Assignment: Answer this question on the half sheet of paper. (5-8 minutes)
  • Collect, but return at the time of the essay writing.

Question: How many of you have guns in your homes?


  • Question: Why do people have guns?
  • Teacher: We are going to see a short movie where 14 to16-year-old students from Oakland, California, talk about guns in their lives. We're going to see it two times. The first time I want you to just watch and see who, if anyone, expresses your thoughts and opinions about guns in our society.

Show all of "Guns in Our Lives".

  • Question: Who in the movie stands out as someone that expresses your thoughts or experiences related to guns?
  • Note: There may not be much response at this point.

Pass out and explain Anticipation Guide: "Guns in Our Lives"


  • Students make checkmarks according to instructions.
  • Students create groups of two to three.
  • Students compare their answers.
  • One student from each group reports to the class one item they agree about and one they disagree about.

Note: Students keep their Anticipation Guides in their notebooks and use them for:

  1. Developing research questions.
  2. Checking the validity of their initial responses.

Brainstorm on board:

  • Question: What questions would you want to answer in a researched persuasive essay, which argues either for or against guns in our society?

Example questions:

  • What role do gun control laws play in reducing firearm wounds and killings?
  • What gun control laws are in effect at this time?
  • What is the history of gun control in our society?
  • Why do people favor guns?
  • Why are people opposed to guns?
  • How many people die annually of gun shots?
  • How many people commit suicide with guns?
  • How many people are accidentally wounded or killed by gunshots?

Homework: Pass out and go over Family Interview: What role do guns play in our society?

Day 2: Library Research

Pass out and go over Research Guide: Guns in Our Lives.

Divide the students into groups. (Count off or select in advance.)

  • At the computer bank, students in the same group sit in the same area.
  • One student is responsible for collecting the articles that the group downloads.
  • Note: Choose one responsible student for each group.
  • Note: Provide each group with a folder for their research.
    Note: Alternative procedure: Have students bring two articles each to class.

Day 3 (Optional): Sharing Family Interview responses

Students go into groups to share family interview responses. Select a recorder and a reporter. The recorder takes notes on the group findings. The reporter leads the group and reports to the class a summary of their responses.

Questions for the groups: (On board or Xeroxed.)

  • How many or what percentage of the group has firearms at home?
  • Where and how are the guns stored?
  • How many guns do or do not have safety locks?
  • What are the reasons for not having guns, for those who do not have guns?
  • What are the reasons for having guns, for those who do have guns?
  • Would any of those who have guns consider getting rid of them?
  • Do the majority of the students agree or disagree with the family gun policy?
  • The reporter of each group tells the class the answers to their questions.
  • Instruct students to keep the Family Interviews, because they may be useful in writing the essays and that they will be due with the final drafts of the essays.

Day 4: Note-taking on Internet articles

  • Students read and take notes on articles their group has provided.
  • Students create a Source List where they make note of necessary information for documenting their research. See section IV, student handout for writing the essay: Persuasive Essay: The Role of Guns in our Society. link

Day 5: Studying "Guns in Our Lives" and writing a Persuasive Essay

On the board or screen:

  1. What references do the students make to guns in their lives?
  2. What reasons do students give for favoring guns?
  3. What reasons do students give for opposing guns?
  4. What incidents are mentioned here?

Students copy the above questions, leaving several lines between each one for taking notes while watching the video.

Note: Teacher or pre-appointed student should read aloud the quote at the beginning of each section. The quotes are taken from the upcoming sections and represent the subject matter they contain.

Note: Teacher must be near the VCR to press pause at the end of each section

Teacher: Now we are going to watch the video one section at a time. As you watch each section, take notes on the various ways that guns appear in our lives.

Show the first section of the video: Guns in general.


  1. Where do guns appear in our lives according to these people? (Television, movies, magazines)
  2. What did they leave out? (Cartoons, war...)
    Teacher: Now watch the second section, taking notes again on the points that come up.

Show the second section of the video: Pro guns


  1. What issues did these young people bring up? (Gun laws too strict, needed for celebration, needed for protection, soothing meditation)
  2. How do you feel about what they said?

Teacher: Now watch and take notes on the third segment.
Show the third section of the video.


  1. 1. What reasons did they give to live in a gun free society? (Dangerous...)
  2. What do you think?Teacher: The last section is about close or actual experience with gunfire. Please watch and take notes.

Show the fourth section.

  1. Question: What incidents of gun violence were described here? (Shot in head, nine year old girl dead...)

Pass out and go over instructions for Writing the Persuasive Essay: The Role of Guns in Our Society.

Note: Allow more class time or have students finish for homework.


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Urban Dreams
OUSD Curriculum Unit
Parrot in the Oven
by Victor Martinez
Subject: English
Grade Level: 9th

Lesson Plan Author:
L. Delaney
School: Skyline High
Organization: OUSD