Reading and Analyzing Text in the Context of a Societal Issue: Privacy

Design Guide

Designers for Learning - Adult Learning Zone

Part 1: Lesson Description

Lesson Title

Reading and Analyzing Text in the Context of a Societal Issue: Privacy


This lesson is designed for students in adult basic education grade level E (low and high adult secondary education).  The purpose of this lesson is to develop learner proficiency in reading and analyzing text.  The lesson topic is the issue of an individual’s right to privacy as balanced with the government’s responsibility for security of its citizens.

Learner Audience / Primary Users

Adult basic education students, grade level E (low and high adult secondary education) who are working to gain proficiency and skills for GED testing in the subject of English Language Arts/Literacy, reading of informational text and their teachers.

Educational Use


College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS) Alignment

  • Level: Adult Education
  • Grade Level: E
  • Subject: English Language Arts / Literacy
  • Strand: Reading
  • Sub-strand: Reading of Informational Text
  • Standard Description:
  • CCR Anchor Standard 1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
  • RI/RL 9-10.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
  • CCR Anchor Standard 2: Determine the central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas
  • RI/RL 9-10.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text



Material Type

Instructional Material

Learning Goals

The purpose of this lesson is for learners to be able to:

  • Read and analyze text to examine a central issue
  • Summarize key supporting details, citing specific evidence to support analysis


  • Designers for Learning
  • Adult Education
  • RI/RL 9-10.1
  • RI/RL 9-10.2
  • English Language Arts/Literacy
  • Reading Informational Text
  • Societal Issue
  • Privacy
  • Security

Time Required for Lesson

30 Minutes

Prior Knowledge

Ability to read at Adult Basic Education Grade Level E (specifically 9 - 10th grade).

Students should have access to computer, tablet or smartphone and basic understanding of how to navigate to internet site to obtain video clip from Critical Commons website [1]and news story from National Public Radio website [2]. Alternatively, teacher can play video clip for students on a computer, tablet or smartphone or instead read commentary/description to students about video clip and have previously obtained and printed a hard copy of news story for students.

Required Resources

Access to the internet through computer, tablet or smartphone (by student or teacher) either during or before lesson is presented (see Instructional Strategies and Activities below for details).

Lesson Author & License

  • Lesson Author: Cheryl M. Clark

Part 2: Lesson

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson, the learner should be able to:

  • Read and analyze text (“Your Digital Trail: Does the Fourth Amendment Protect Us?”  See References) to determine central issue as exhibited by participation in answering text based questions/discussion group.
  • Demonstrate understanding of issue, key supporting details and ideas in text by answering questions as exhibited by participation in answering text based questions/discussion group and written reflection activity.
  • Summarize at least three key points or ideas from the text and/or discussion as exhibited in answer to written reflection question.

Lesson Topics

Key topics covered in this lesson include:

  • Right to Privacy and Security: High Adult Secondary Reading Activity

Context Summary

This lesson develops students’ skills to read and analyze text for central issues and key supporting details and to communicate textual evidence to support understanding and one’s own perspective.  The lesson is framed by an issue of importance in civic life, “What is the appropriate balance between a US citizen’s right to privacy and the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens?”

Relevance to Practice

The skills of reading and analyzing text are necessary for a variety of reading purposes and contexts including understanding and deepening of one’s own understanding of societal issues for participation in civic life. Being able to communicate understanding and one’s own perspective of societal issues in a thoughtful, reasoned way and listen to perspectives of others enriches one’s life and is fundamental to participation in civic life.  

Key Terms and Concepts

Argument - A statement or discussion in which people express different opinions about something.

Evidence - The available body of facts or information indicating helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.

Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution – The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.  The Fourth Amendment is not a guarantee against all searches and seizures, but only those that are deemed unreasonable under the law.  Whether a particular type of search is considered reasonable is determined by balancing two important interests:  An individual's Fourth Amendment right to privacy and legitimate government interests, such as public safety and security.

Issue - An important aspect of human society for which there are many differing opinions on an appropriate course of action.

Opinion - A belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something.

Perspective - A particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

Privacy - The state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.

Position - A point of view adopted and held to.

Search Warrant  – A legal document authorizing a police officer or other official to enter and search a specified place.

Security - The state of being free from danger or threat.

Societal – Of or relating to human society or concerns.

Surveillance - The act of carefully watching someone or something especially in order to prevent or detect a crime.

Instructional Strategies and Activities

Note: This lesson is written for a traditional class setting.  If this lesson will instead be taught in an “open classroom” with students working individually on this lesson, the following alternative is offered: The student may view the video by him/herself and discuss the Presentation questions with the teacher or in writing.  The individual student should be asked to answer one or more of the questions in writing in the Guided Practice.  Individual student will complete reflection activity.


Time: 4 minutes

A clear definition of “issue” and “societal” (see above in Key Terms and concepts) will be discussed and established.  Students will brainstorm a list of societal issues.


Time: 3 minutes

Teacher will describe the purpose of the lesson:  To read and analyze text to gain an understanding of an issue.  To be able to communicate understanding and one’s own perspective of an issue and to listen to perspectives of others  is fundamental to participation in civic life.  

To provide an entry point to discussion of the issue, a video clip from the Critical Commons web site [3]of movie "Batman: Dark Knight" (the cell phone surveillance scene) will be played (play first 1:20).  Alternatively, if no computer, tablet or cell phone technology is available, teacher can (prior to class) print a copy of the short paragraph/commentary (to the right of the movie clip on the Critical Commons website page) regarding the scene.  Teacher can then start discussion by asking students if they saw the movie, then read the short paragraph/commentary.

Presentation / Modeling / Demonstration

Time: 8 minutes

Teacher writes the issue that will be the framework for the lesson on the  board: What is the appropriate balance between a US citizen’s right to privacy and the government’s responsibility to protect its citizens?”

Students and teacher will discuss questions and explore issue of citizen's safety vs. privacy relating to the video clip: What disagreement do Lucius and Batman have over the use of cell phone surveillance? How is the decision made to use the defense system despite Lucius’ objection? What implications does this decision have in the debate about what is more important – a citizen’s safety or privacy?

Key Terms unknown to students related to the issue (see above in Key Terms and Concepts) will be defined.  Teacher will let students know that they will be returning to these types of questions as they read a news story related to the 4th amendment to the United States Constitution which deals with an individual’s right to privacy.

Guided Practice

Time: 10 minutes

Text-based discovery activity - Students read the National Public Radio story "Your Digital Trail: Does the 4th Amendment Protect us?"[4]independently and summarize (taking notes) key supporting details in relation to problem based question.  Students can read the story from a computer, tablet or cell phone.  Alternatively, if no computer, tablet or cell phone technology is available, teacher can (prior to class) print copies of the story for students. To explore issue, instructor introduces text based questions (below) which students answer in discussion groups.


1. What line from the 4th Amendment does the author specifically quote in his article?

2. What evidence does the author use to support the legal analysts’ claim that “the world of computers has weakened the Fourth Amendment?”

3. What details from the article best describe the words “persons, houses, papers, and effects” as used in the 4th Amendment?

4. At the end of the 13th paragraph the author writes, “It’s the legal version of the lesson you learned when you were 12 years old: If you don’t want anybody else to read your diary then don’t show it to anybody.” According to the author, how have older laws, when combined with new technology, aided the government in conducting surveillance programs?


Time: N/A (Time concurrent with 10 minutes of Guided Practice activity above)

The teacher monitors the student group practice above by moving around the classroom and providing immediate feedback on the group discussion activity.


Time: 5 min

Reflection Activity - A reflection prompt will be given to students to answer on a piece of paper and return to teacher.  Prompt:

What is your understanding of the issue of government surveillance and personal privacy?  Summarize at least three key points or ideas from the text and/or discussion in your answer. 

Part 3: Supplementary Resources & References

Supplementary Resources

Ahuja, M. (2013, June 7).  Electronic surveillance under Presidents Bush and Obama.  The Washington Post.  Retrieved from

Carmichael, J. (2013, June 19). How has surveillance evolved in the United States [Timeline].  Popular  Science.  Retrieved from

Fourth Amendment: An Overview. (n.d.). Cornell University Law School.  Cornell Legal Information Institute. Retrieved from

McEvers, K. (Host). (2016, March 29). Apple vs. the FBI: The unanswered questions and unsettled issues. [Radio broadcast]. Washington, DC: National Public Radio. Retrieved from


Cornish, A. (Host) (2013, October 2).  Your digital trail: Does the fourth amendment protect us? [Radio broadcast]. Washington, DC:     National Public Radio.  Retrieved from

Critical Commons. (n.d.).  Dark Knight cell phone surveillance.  Retrieved from

Attribution Statements

“This work, ‘Reading and Analyzing Text in the Context of a Societal Issue: Privacy and Security’

is a derivative of ‘Building Evidence-Based Arguments” by and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and O’Dell Education, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 3.0 License.  ‘Reading and Analyzing Text in the Context of a Societal Issue: Privacy and Security’ is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licenseby Cheryl M. Clark.”

CC Attribution

This course content is offered by Designers for Learning under a CC Attribution license.
Content in this course can be considered under this license unless otherwise noted.        

(Design Guide effective March 29, 2016)

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