Death Penalty Debate

The death penalty has been around for more than a hundred years. For almost all of those years, there has been debate over whether or not it is an appropriate "punishment" for criminals. Does it deter crime? Is it "cruel and unusual" punishment?

We are going to explore the issue and then it is up to you to decide which side of the debate you are on.

Introduction

A debate is a discussion of both sides of an issue. Usually the people who are arguing on one side or the other are very passionate about their position. In a debate, however, passion is not enough. You must also have facts and the opinions of experts to support your passion.

In this WebQuest you will be gathering facts and opinions about the death penalty. You will also be forming and strengthening your opinion on the subject.

After this WebQuest is finished, you will write a research-based argumentative paper expressing your opinion and supporting that opinion with facts and opinions you have gathered. This WebQuest will give you a head start on your research for that paper.

Task

And I sentence you to…

…death. How many times have we heard those words pronounced by a judge on TV or in the movies.

Well, I am not sentencing you to death, but I sentence you to learn about the death penalty. In addition to gathering information, you will be coming to your own conclusions about the facts you gather. You will write a number of small position papers before being asked to write a research-based argumentative paper on the subject.

When you are finished, you will not only know what you believe about the death penalty; you will also know why you believe it.

Process

This WebQuest will be done in four main sections.

Part 1

You will investigate the application of the death penalty. To do that, choose two of these websites. (This activity will be more beneficial if you consult with your classmates and choose different sites to report on.)
Read what each one has to say. You are looking for facts, not emotions. What we want is for you to gather information about numbers of executions, racial and economic backgrounds of people who are executed, etc.

Capital Punishment Statistics
Death Penalty: Questions and Answers
The Death Penalty in the US 1976-2008
Death Penalty Facts
Death Penalty Chronology

After this, go to the class blog and post your findings. At this point we are looking for facts and figures more than anything. In your post be sure to include the web address of the site you are reporting on. Write a separate post for each site.

Part 2

The second step is to investigate the arguments in favor of the death penalty. To do that, you will visit two of the sites from this list and try to understand some of the arguments they use to support the death penalty.

Death Penalty Defence
Death Becomes Us
Executio0n Saves Innocents
Pro Capital Punishment Page
A Message from the Prosecuting Attorney
Pro-Death Penalty
A Cruel Penalty for Victims

Now, summarize the contents of each article on the class blog. Be sure to write a separate post for each site and to include a link to the site in the post.

Part 3

The next step is to investigate the arguments of those who are opposed to the death penalty. Visit two of these sites and try to discover the main arguments they use.

Death Penalty Focus: Working for alternatives to the death penalty
Anti-Death Penalty
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Death Penalty Information
Stop the Killing
Death Penalty Getting Costly in Mississippi
When Death is on the Line
How the death penalty revictimizes victims' families

Now, summarize the contents of each article on the class blog. Be sure to write a separate post for each site and to include a link to the site in the post.

Part 4

Now, take some time to think about what you have learned about the death penalty. What is your opinion of the death penalty? Are you in favor of it or are you opposed to it?

Go to the class blog and write about your opinion. Try to give some reasons why you feel as you do. This does not have to be a very formal post — just a good paragraph with your opinion and some reasons. This will be almost like an outline for your research paper. But that comes later…

Evaluation

Your work will be evaluated on the following criteria.

Beginning - 1 pt Developing - 2 pts Proficient - 3 pts Accomplished - 4 pts Exemplary - 5 pts
Death Penalty General Information Made only one incomplete post to the blog summarizing these sites. Made one complete post with a good summary of the site and a link. Made one complete post with a good summary and a link and one partial post that was missing one of those elements. Made two complete posts with summaries and links. Made two complete posts that were very well-written.
Arguments in Favor of the Death Penalty Made only one incomplete post to the blog summarizing these sites. Made one complete post with a good summary of the site and a link. Made one complete post with a good summary and a link and one partial post that was missing one of those elements. Made two complete posts with summaries and links. Made two complete posts that were very well-written.
Arguments Against the Death Penalty Made only one incomplete post to the blog summarizing these sites. Made one complete post with a good summary of the site and a link. Made one complete post with a good summary and a link and one partial post that was missing one of those elements. Made two complete posts with summaries and links. Made two complete posts that were very well-written.
Personal Opinion Did not express opinion or provide any support for it. Only wrote vaguely about the issue. Wrote vaguely but managed to express an opinion. Little support for opinion. Expressed an opinion and supported it to a limited degree and/or had so many errors that it was difficult to always know what the writer intended to say. Expressed an opinion and supported it well, but errors sometimes made it difficult to understand. Expressed an opinion and supported it clearly and in relatively error-free English.

Conclusion

Now that you have done this work, you are ready to begin to write your longer research-based paper on the death penalty. I hope that this has been a useful experience for you.

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