Teacher Ideas to Share

The ideas below have been submitted by teachers who have used our DVDs with success in their classrooms.

We hope they will be helpful to you in creating interesting and educational lesson plans. Don't forget to also take a look at the teacher guide that is included on your free DVD.

All of our teacher guides are also available to download.

Have ideas of your own that you'd like to share? Use our contact form to submit them to us.

I have been able to use [Stossel in the Classroom's] amazing videos in 8th Grade US History in California for a few years now. I believe one could argue that they meet several current [state] standards.

I created a unit for use after state testing is over. I call it "Contemporary Social and Economic Conditions," which is taken straight from the introductory part of the current CA 8th grade US History standards. Teachers are always encouraged to tie content to current events, and this seems to fit that bill.

The unit is somewhat a comparative government/economic unit discussing: Industrialization and The Rise of Communism, Stalin's Abuses in Soviet Russia, Abuses in China, Communitarianism, Republic, Democracy, expectations of government, dangers of handing government more power, capitalism/free market, class warfare, economic simulation, government budgets, creating charities, etc.

Stossel videos (small government) are alternated with Chris Matthews videos (big government).

—Barry, California

This year, I taught high school Business Math to primarily 12th grade students. I generally showed one segment every 1-2 weeks from the various Stossel in the Classroom DVDs to break up the daily/weekly number crunching. The videos were a nice length and highly engaging. I had the students fill out the viewing guide and included one discussion question for a written response.

—J Walsh

I have been using the Stossel in the Classroom DVDs for several years now as a major part of my US History class. I teach in a public middle school, and after each chapter we have "Roundtable Discussions." At the core of these discussions is always a clip from the DVD. I love how it challenges the students to think outside the normal accepted way of doing things, and really look critically at what is going on in our nation. One of the main themes of my class is that it is our duty as citizens to be informed and question our government and its policies. These videos help me to open up the class to new ideas, and then discuss them in a thoughtful way.

I can say that for the majority of my students, Stossel in the Classroom DVD has made "Roundtable Discussions" the highlight of each chapter. I have high school students contact me all the time to say how much they really enjoyed the days we watched the Stossel videos in 8th grade and how much the discussions made them think about what is going on in the world around them. Thank you for continuing to provide these materials to teachers.

John Stossel will continue to be a major part of my classroom far into the future.

—Neil Radtke, Klondike Middle School, West Lafayette, Indiana

I use your topics to form debates in order to get my 8th grade students to practice their pro/con persuasive brainstorming prior to outlining the writing process through to final essay publication.

Thanks for providing; the kids love the topics!

—Lynne Landry, Haddam-Killingworth Middle School, Killingworth, CT

I have the students watch the video once. We re-watch the video, and take Cornell Notes. Then, students write level 1, 2, and 3 questions (based on Costa's levels of questioning). We then split the class into two groups. We do a "fishbowl" discussion where half get to discuss the video while the others take notes on the discussion group. I am a facilitator, but do not participate in the discussion.

The next step is to share this with another school via teleconferencing. We are going to watch the video together, take notes, and write questions. Then we will share our thoughts with the other class and hear their thoughts and opinions.

—Karolee Smiley, Foothill Farms Jr. High School, Sacramento, California

I used the 2006 DVD in my Oral Communication class using the Stereotype segment to open discussion on the topic. The kids enjoyed the segment and it started a great discussion on how bias affects us.

I used the remaining three [segments] in debate. I created a work sheet for them to write a paragraph on their opinion before the segment and had room for them to record them after and we talked about some of the key points that each segment brought up.

I have always loved John Stossel's reports, and my students do, too.

—Constance Smith

In learning strategies courses, I have used the guides as models when I am teaching students lecture note taking formats, like the Cornell format.

The content is so interesting it keeps their attention, while they are mastering a new way to take notes.

—Gerri Sopyla, Learning Specialist, Rockhurst High School

I have used the Streaming Video and questions as journal entries. I start class every day with a journal. While I take attendance and prepare the lesson for the day the students write in their journals.

There are now 9 videos and I teach 9 week classes. So I can have every Monday for example be a video journal day. The questions with the video's are just right for their journals. I have been surprised by some of the comments and answers. The videos really help the students to think about the subject. Thank you for providing these at no cost to the teachers.

—Paula Markman West, Vocational Education Teacher, East Richland High School

Our school district has committed to a focus on character education, and we have weekly "homeroom" type sessions where we dialog about significant issues. John Stossel's segments tie perfectly into discussions about character! Every clip is thought provoking. Students pay close attention and really become absorbed by the issues Stossel addresses. Each segment takes only a few minutes to show and always generates much thoughtful discussion...

It renews my faith that media can make a POSITIVE difference developing the critical thinking skills of young people.

—Kristie Ewig, Air Academy High School, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I teach Sociology as well as Government in high school. I used the DVD "Hype and Consequences" with a lesson that I did on values in my Sociology class.

After we had finished with the group work and class discussions and writing assignment on values, I showed the students this DVD and asked them one question per segment that was a values related question. They had to write their opinion on each segment from a values point of view. It worked out really well, and we had a good class discussion afterward.

—Judy Kellow, Social Studies, Pasadena Memorial High School, Pasadena, Texas

I teach struggling readers at a college level. I currently use the John Strossel videos as a preview to current news. It gives my students the words and vocabulary so they can discuss our current news article. They enjoy the fast paced story lines.

—Carol A. Paul, English Professor, Henry Ford Community College

I use the topics that are discussed with my 8th grade gifted/advanced students to write persuasive and expository essays. They enjoy giving their ideas and opinions.

—Joan S. Griffin, Rockmart Middle School, Rockmart, Georgia

I use "price gouging" and "oil supply" to explain some of the issues surrounding the Industrialization and Urbanization in America. I use it to supplement the ideas behind Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company and monopolies, trusts, and pools. In our discussions, we usually compare history with present day events to see the correlations.

—Tacy Gamel, Lubbock Christian School, Lubbock, Texas

I used the DVD with my 9th graders. I used the clips at the beginning of our persuasive essay unit. After we watched them, the students would debate the topics and try to persuade the opposing students to side with them. It was a great introduction to persuasive writing because they were already doing what persuasive writing is all about. They loved sharing their ideas with each other!

—Kristen C. Womack, Southeast High School, Greensboro, North Carolina

I used some of the topics to enhance science concepts prior to the state exams, and afterwards, I will use some of the topics to motivate students before the end of school and summer break. Students like the interaction. It should help to manage discipline when students are hyper and ready for summer vacation.

—C. Hill, Resaca Middle School, Los Fresnos, Texas

I am a teacher of gifted science and math, and used your video clip entitled: "Are we running out of oil?" in my classes last week. My class revolves around economics and my elementary students at 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade level participate in a Stock Market Simulation. They have $100,000 to spend and they do this over a period of four months.

Their portfolios are ranked and excitement is high each day when we look up our standings. One week we had two in the State Rankings and seven in the top ten Regionals. Most weeks, we have students in the top ten.

Each week, we zero in on a particular area of the market. This week it was Energy. Your video clip was perfect! We discussed the title, "Are We Running Out of Oil?," and students made their hypotheses. They were mesmerized as they watched the clip. We even watched it again so as to be sure they didn't miss anything. We had a lively discussion and students could not wait to get home and find out if their parents knew about the Alberta, Canada oil supply.

The next day, we did a hands-on experiment on Density. Again for the question, "Is Oil the Most, or Lease Dense of the displayed liquids?," all guessed "Most." Students tested various liquids in clear vials and made some discoveries. They then attempted to layer the liquids in a clear vial by density.

—Joan Crow, Gifted Science Teacher, Tallahassee, Florida

I am a family & consumer science teacher in northeast Ohio, and I started using the Stossel in the Classroom DVDs with my students this year. I am lucky enough to have the DVDs from 2012-present and find them all very useful.

My career search classes really benefited from some of the segments regarding internships, minimum wage laws and financial inequality.

I also showed some segments to my healthy & safe foods class regarding food police and restrictions on foods in America.

I find that the teacher's guide is very useful, and the students really start to think critically about topics that they had previously never considered.

—Jen Latell, Campbell Memorial High School, Campbell, OH

In my classroom, we begin every Tuesday with a Stossel segment. I call it "Talk about it Tuesday." After watching the segment, the students write about their reactions and/or feelings regarding the matter and we have a classroom discussion.

Then for homework, they actually have to sit down with an adult, share with that adult the "topic" of the day, and find out how that adult feels in regards to that topic. Do their parents differ from them in their opinion? If so, in what ways?

—Bernadette Marcias

Whether I am teaching Journalism, Creative Writing or Advanced English, students receive various topics presented in the video collection. Each student has a different topic and they research the pros and cons of the topic. They make a presentation and then the class has the opportunity to view the professional piece from the collection. Class discussion and debates follow. We discuss the journalistic talent by analyzing Mr. Stossel’s question strategies. Students proceed to develop the same type of questioning style with other topics.

The videos add so much to the classroom curriculum.

—Sandy Balfour

I homeschool; we have a co-op that meets once a week. I used some Stossel videos to create an 8 week class called “Critical Thinking”. Predictably, the middle school boys thought they’d be bored, but they LOVED it.

One of the things they liked best was when I had them debate the sides of the issue. The first video I used worked great with this: it was the one about “Should we pay for other’s stupidity?”

Teenagers LOVE to state their opinions, right or wrong, so I gave them an opportunity to do this.

—Abbey Ferguson

I discuss how marketing influences our desire to own and can get us interested in spending much more than we need to for a brand named product. I use the "Starberry" sneaker video to make the point. I also use the inoculations video to show how people can have significant differences in opinion on the same subject and how the media can influence when we don't understand enough about a subject.

—Art Close, Southeast High School, Greensboro, North Carolina

I have taught sixth grade for 21 years, and one of the things I see that my kids aren't doing is thinking deeper about a topic. Maybe because of all the testing we have to do, they are very good at finding facts but not so good at making generalizations, evaluating and making judgments.

I use Mr. Stossel's news videos as a source of topics that I have the kids discuss and then write reaction papers. I make sure they choose one side of an argument, write a thesis statement, and then use information from the show to back up why they made their choice. We then use these papers for discussions the next day. One way to discuss their papers that the kids enjoy is to group students together that have similar ideas, generally "for" and "against," and have an open debate. We have had some heated discussions this way. It makes it easy for me to see the depth of thinking, and it's easy for kids that have trouble voicing their ideas to see examples from other kids who are good at this oral form of combat.

—Jerry Shippee, Prairie Wind Middle School, Perham, Minnesota

Loved the Hype scenario. I used it with Senior English students the first day I began an advertising unit. They were really into it and it was so contemporary that they were excited about developing and creating their own ads to see what influence they could have on others.

—Joy Garratt, Clovis, California

After watching a segment, or all segments, assign students to do a report on the topic. The reports could include written, power point, or video. Some questions might be "Has the topic effected you personally?" "Do you know someone who has experienced this topic?" "How have you been effected by the topic?" "How has the topic effected someone you know?" It would be important for the students to present their information so that others might learn from it.

—Mark Williams, Potomac Senior High School, Dumfries, Virginia

I used the tennis shoe marketing clip with my journalism students. We discussed target market, marketing strategies, etc. They were then encouraged to create their own product, brand, or service. They then worked in small groups to create marketing strategies for their company. Each group was responsible for business cards, letterhead, 2 print ads, 2 radio spots (30 sec. and 60 sec.), a billboard, and our culminating activity was tied into the Super Bowl. They were to storyboard a TV spot, and if feasible, were allowed to film. This is a wonderful set of exercises for all students, but in particular, our large percentage of second language learners.

—Joe Boffa, Desert Mirage High School, Thermal, California

I often have my students either research opposing views or require them to formulate their own. In short, their mission is to try to come up with an opposing argument that is as convincing and as fact based as John's.

—J Holzworth

I try to make the students understand the issues and these videos allow me to have the kids make t-charts with ideas from both sides - take a side - then write a defend, contend, or qualify paper.

—Rita Neumeister

I use many of the Stossel DVD segments during a persuasive writing/speech unit in my junior English classes. Each student picks a controversial topic to work with individually; the DVDs are used to show how questioning "research results" and studies leads to information and multiple perspectives on the issues. After each student's speech, the rest of the class is allowed to question the student's opinion and findings. John Stossel is assertive and curious; that's what I encourage from my students.

—Melissa Schwartz

I use the videos to spark discussion before assigning a persuasive essay writing prompt.

After watching the video, we were able to discuss pros/cons of an issue, and then put our thoughts on that issue in the framework of the persuasive essay. This was a GREAT springboard forthe kids to then be able to formulate their own opinions and create a persuasive essay about a topic of their choice.

—LisaMarie Slater, Granite Ridge Intermediate, Fresno, CA

I have used your videos in my 8th grade English classroom to help students meet the following standards: critical listening, global issues, and persuasive writing.

I teach students to respond to one of Stossel's segments using these three steps. First, they should summarize what they saw and heard on the video. What is the issue discussed? What opinions did Stossel and others present? Second, they should interpret the facts by synthesizing all the information into one big picture and by laying out what the implications are.

What does this mean? Finally, students should express their thoughts and opinions about the issue, backing them up with examples and details from the video.

Students love these videos because they are controversial and current. They always have a lot to say after they watch one!

—Stacy Brown, Kent City Middle School, Kent City, MI

I start the class with Stossel reports and then just lead the discussion following. Sometimes discussion takes a turn or two and that's OK. The reports act like priming the pump... they're great for getting my students to think and respond and formulate their own opinions. I want to thank the entire staff for your efforts. Keep up the good work.

—Richard L. Wright, Applied Economics, Wapato High School

Love to use with my ESL students. Gets good discussions going. Good to give an idea for culture classes also. Thanks.

—Pat Mazzei