Free Curriculum Promotes Death-Penalty Debates: The Death Penalty Information Center Offers Online Lesson Plans Designed to Spark Discussion and Improve Critical Thinking Skills. (We Hear from Readers)

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Death Penalty Information Center, Washington, D.C.:

An award-winning Internet-based curriculum on capital punishment is offering educators the opportunity to take this timely topic from the headlines of the evening news into their classrooms. The Death Penalty Information Center, in conjunction with the Michigan State Communications Technology Laboratory, has prepared this balanced educational tool that uses the capital punishment issue to teach critical thinking skills, group decision-making, persuasive writing, and civic responsibility.

The Curriculum on the Death Penalty is available at http://teacher.deathpenaltyinfoansu.edu. Using exercises such as role-playing, written reports, quick-writes, learning journals, and simulations, the curriculum engages students' interests and allows them to thoughtfully consider the central issues concerning the death penalty.

"Recent events have confirmed that the death penalty is a particularly timely issue throughout the country," says DPIC Executive Director Richard C. Dieter. "DPIC is proud to provide this curriculum for teachers to explore current issues in their classrooms, and we are pleased that those educators who have used the curriculum found it to be a valuable and accessible resource."

The curriculum offers separate teacher and student sites, two 10-day lesson plans, teacher overviews, and objectives meeting national educational standards. In 2001, it was used by the Division for Public Education of the American Bar Association as a resource for teachers and students. Also during the past year, teachers in Washington, D.C., used it as the curriculum base for a successful capital punishment education program.

Stephen R. Greenwald, president of New York City's Audrey Cohen College, noted the curriculum's high value in high schools, saying, "The Center's Web site provides a comprehensive and objective overview of the major issues surrounding the death penalty in a well-designed, interactive format. …