Using Wikipedia Effectively: Researching Superstars and Other Topics

In this lesson, students will use Wikipedia as a research tool from a critical perspective: they will review the contents of Wikipedia entries on their favorite musicians; they will access and verify information supporting the Wikipedia entry; and they will think about the benefits, drawbacks and additional resources of online research tools.

Women in Politics

The objective of this lesson is to examine the growing role of women in politics.

The role of women in our society is growing each year, especially with music powerhouses like Beyonce and Madonna and breakthrough female film directors like Kathryn Bigelow leading the way. These strong females are really setting a benchmark for women all across the country.

Just like women in media, women in politics are breaking down that “glass ceiling.” 2013 marks a milestone in women’s political history, 19 female Senators have taken office. Though women are not a majority, their rise in political power reflects the changing times in our country. The U.S. population is 51 percent female. In Congress, however, 90 percent of the lawmakers are male, 89 percent in the House of Representatives and 80 percent in the Senate.

Create Your Own Starbucks Drink

The objective of this lesson is to have students create a new product that can be introduced by an already profitable company.

We all know the international coffeehouse, Starbucks – this company not only has convenient locations, but also has a friendly staff with vastly popular coffee drinks. For those who are not fans of caffeinated beverages, they offer a whole slew of decaffeinated alternatives.

Writing Your Own “Epic Rap Battle”

In this lesson, students will demonstrate an understanding of two historical figures and their opposing ideologies by writing their own “Epic Rap Battles of History.” They will also exercise their debate and persuasive writing skills.

Hacked: Mathematical Permutation and Internet Security

In this lesson, students take a closer look at the world of internet security while learning how to calculate permutations.

On Monday, April 23rd, The Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked, and the following message was posted: Breaking – Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 150 points as a result of this tweet.

Can Bullying Be Located On A Map? A 13 year old student maps bullying in America

Students will discuss the affects of bullying and its prevalence as well as gain a basic understanding of statistical indexing and geolocating as it relates to mapping bullying incidents in America. Students will examine the work of Viraj Puri, a 13-year-old student from Virginia, who created a bullying-prevention blog to “use technology to bring lawmakers and teens together.” He has developed a live social media “heatmap” that tracks, geographically, mentions of bullying.

Are Pop Stars the Best Advocates of Political or Social Awareness?

In this lesson, students will use Justin Bieber’s recent gaffe at the Anne Frank House to debate and explore whether or not pop stars can act in a useful way regarding sensitive social and political issues. They will also consider whether or not pop stars can make decent politicians.

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Blueprint to a Mogul: Reaching Goals Like Shonda Rhimes



Shonda Rhimes is one of the most powerful people in television. As the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to get Away with Murder, she is the backbone of ABC. And ABC lets her do whatever she wants. When Rhimes was criticized for refusing to read notes from the executives on Scandal, she simply replied, “What were they going to do, fire me?”

Rhimes wasn’t always a powerhouse. In college, Shonda wanted to write world-changing novels like her hero Toni Morrison. However, she found that there was no point in aspiring to be like Morrison. As she put it, “I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up.”

In 2002, she was a B-list screenwriter who had just adopted a child. While looking after the baby, she found herself watching a lot of network TV, including 24, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel.

Rhimes got where she is by writing what she wanted to see on TV. This makes her style, and even her genre, hard to pin down. Is Grey’s Anatomy a medical drama or a romantic soap? Is Scandal a romance, a political drama, or a conspiracy thriller? No one knows what to say about her work, other than that it’s something that no one has seen before.


In that spirit, this lesson isn’t about how to become TV mogul Shonda Rhimes, she already has that job. What you can do is put in the kind of work that Rhimes put in, to become a creative mogul on your own terms. This lesson will help you assess what you can offer to the world and figure out what you need in order to build a new creative empire.

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The Complexity of Complexion: Colorism in Pop Culture


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The field of entertainment has a dark history (no pun intended) as it pertains to perceptions of beauty. The issue of Colorism has found its way into pop culture.  According to the documentary “Dark Girls”, colorism isprejudice or discrimination based on the relative lightness or darkness of the skin and generally a phenomenon occurring within one’s own ethnic group.”

This phenomenon is illustrated in the song, “Complexion (A Zulu Love)” by Kendrick Lamar featuring Rapsody on his recent album, To Pimp a Butterfly. The song is a narrative that follows the relationship between two slaves, one who works in the field picking cotton and the other who works in the house. This dynamic is relative to the issue of colorism because it often times reflects the intent of divisiveness between darker and lighter skin tones, where the latter is sometimes the offspring of the slave master themselves. Lamar emphasizes in the second verse:

Dark as the midnight hour, I’m bright as the mornin’ Sun
Brown skinned but your blue eyes tell me your mama can’t run
Sneak me through the back window I’m a good field ni**a
I made a flower for you outta cotton just to chill with you
You know I’d go the distance, you know I’m ten toes down
Even if master’s listenin’, I got the world’s attention
So I’ma say somethin’ that’s vital and critical for survival
Of mankind, if he lyin’, color should never rival
Beauty is what you make it, I used to be so mistaken
By different shades of faces
Then wit told me, “You’re womanless, women love the creation”
It all came from God, then you were my confirmation
I came to where you reside
And looked around to see more sights for sore eyes
Let the Willie Lynch theory reverse a million times

The Willie Lynch Theory that Kendrick Lamar mentions in the verse refers to a speech that was said to have been delivered by Willie Lynch, a British slave owner in the West Indies, to slave owners in Virginia in 1712. Supposedly, this speech, “The Making of a Slave” teaches the slave owners several methods to “control the slaves.” While it is highly debatable that such a letter or speech ever really existed, the content of the alleged speech has some merit. For instance, one of the lines from the speech reads,

“You must use the DARK skin slaves vs. the LIGHT skin slaves, and the LIGHT skin slaves vs. the DARK skin slaves.”

Recently, people on the internet took issue with Kendrick Lamar’s recent engagement to his fiancée, Whitney Alford. Kendrick’s life imitated his art in demonstrating, true to his words, that complexion doesn’t “mean a thing”. Kendrick chooses to see the beauty in his partner, revealing that we “all come from God”. Unfortunately, this mentality was not shared by others who still, to this day, believe that one skin tone is superior to others.

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I guess the people who have an issue with Lamar’s fiancée is unaware of his support for dark-skinned women. In an interview with Miss Info, he gives reason as to why he chose a dark-skinned model for the video, “Poetic Justice”. He states, “We had another girl for the lead but I had an idea where I just wanted a little bit of a darker tone [girl] in the video. It’s almost like a color blind industry where there’s only one type of appeal to the camera. ….. I always kept in the back of my mind like ‘you don’t ever see this tone of a woman in videos.  No disrespect, I love all women, period. But at the same time, I still feels like it needs that balance.” 



I tend to agree wholeheartedly! We should embrace all colors, for the real beauty lies within the diversity of our skin tones. Like Rapsody so eloquently put it:

“Black as brown, hazelnut cinnamon tea
And it’s all beautiful to me
Call your brothers magnificent, call all the sisters queens
We all on the same team, blues and pirus, no colours ain’t a thing”