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Let’s Get Real

Troublemakers

What pit bulls can teach us about profiling

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THINK WRITE DISCUSS Expository Reading & Writing Depth-of-Knowledge Questions Common Core Aligned Full, 45-minute lesson materials

Due to copyright law, I am unable to offer a full-text version of the Malcolm Gladwell article here. You have purchased my lesson materials to use with the article, not the article itself. If you enter “Troublemakers Malcolm Gladwell” into any search engine, you will find numerous copies of the article available for you to print and use in class. During my last product update, these were two websites that were hosting full-text versions of the story. Just copy-and-paste either of the addresses below to access a copy of the story to print and use in class: http://gladwell.com/troublemakers/ http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/02/06/060206fa_fact

Assignment

Level 1

On a separate sheet of paper, answer every part of the following questions. You must write complete, thoughtful sentences. 1. Before reading this article, how did you feel about pit bulls? Discuss two issues surrounding pit bulls that increased a dog’s likelihood of being a biter. Why, do surprised you or caused you to rethink your previously you think, those three elements would be such a powerful held notions about the animals. influence over the animal? 2. Define the word “flibbertigibbet.” Name a breed of dog that could be described using this word. 3. Take a look at the fatal dog bite information from 19811982 and 1995-1996 that Gladwell presents. Who authored the study that he cites? Why, do you suppose, Gladwell focused on just those two years’ data? What problem do you see with the use of this data?

5. On the last page of the article, Gladwell is critical of the town of Ottawa’s ban on pit bull-type dogs. Look closely at Gladwell’s words in the last passage. Explain how his tone changes toward the end of the piece and whether or not you find this technique effective.

6. In the end, Jayden and his parents survived the brutal attack. Gladwell, however, omits this important piece of information. Why do you think he chose not to include 4. In the 1991 Denver study, three elements other than the the follow-up information on the case? In what way does breed of a dog were identified as being factors that would knowing that everyone turned out OK in the end change make a dog more likely to bite. List the three elements that the effectiveness of Gladwell’s argument?

Assignment

Level 1

On a separate sheet of paper, answer every part of the following questions. You must write complete, thoughtful sentences. 1. Before reading this article, how did you feel about pit bulls? Discuss two issues surrounding pit bulls that increased a dog’s likelihood of being a biter. Why, do surprised you or caused you to rethink your previously you think, those three elements would be such a powerful held notions about the animals. influence over the animal? 2. Define the word “flibbertigibbet.” Name a breed of dog that could be described using this word. 3. Take a look at the fatal dog bite information from 19811982 and 1995-1996 that Gladwell presents. Who authored the study that he cites? Why, do you suppose, Gladwell focused on just those two years’ data? What problem do you see with the use of this data?

5. On the last page of the article, Gladwell is critical of the town of Ottawa’s ban on pit bull-type dogs. Look closely at Gladwell’s words in the last passage. Explain how his tone changes toward the end of the piece and whether or not you find this technique effective.

6. In the end, Jayden and his parents survived the brutal attack. Gladwell, however, omits this important piece of information. Why do you think he chose not to include 4. In the 1991 Denver study, three elements other than the the follow-up information on the case? In what way does breed of a dog were identified as being factors that would knowing that everyone turned out OK in the end change make a dog more likely to bite. List the three elements that the effectiveness of Gladwell’s argument?

Troublemakers article – Level 1 KEY 4. In the 1991 Denver study, three elements other than the breed of a dog were identified as being factors that would make a dog more likely to bite. List the three elements that increased a dog’s likelihood of being a biter. Why, do you think, those three elements would be such a powerful influence over the animal? The other three elements are if the dog is male, if the dog had not been neutered, and if the dog was regularly chained. Generally, males tend to be more hostile and dominant than females, so perhaps the male dogs are 2. Define the word “flibbertigibbet.” Name a breed of more likely to aggressively defend their territory. That male aggression is increased in male dogs that haven’t dog that could be described using this word. A flibbertigibbet is a hyper, overly talkative or yappy been fixed because there’s more testosterone coursing person. Any spazzy dog breed, like chihuahua or even through the animals. Finally, the chaining of a dog would my own labradoodle (she’s a mess), could be described be frustrating and stressful for the animal. Such a dog wouldn’t necessary have warm and fuzzy feelings for this way. Again, answers will vary a bit here. people. 3. Take a look at the fatal dog bite information from 19811982 and 1995-1996 that Gladwell presents. Who 5. On the last page of the article, Gladwell is critical of the authored the study that he cites? Why, do you suppose, town of Ottawa’s ban on pit bull-type dogs. Look closely Gladwell focused on just those two years’ data? What at Gladwell’s words in the last passage. Explain how his tone changes toward the end of the piece and whether or problem do you see with the use of this data? Gladwell doesn’t specifically state the source of the study, not you find this technique effective. but it’s likely the A.S.P.C.A., since that’s the next expert He’s a little snarky at the end and basically calls out the quoted in the following paragraph. Students will have to Ottawan officials for being too busy/too lazy to follow through on their responsibilities. The last line is the clincher. read closely to piece this together. It’s strange that only those two years’ data is analyzed. Some students will find this snarkiness appealing, while Gladwell’s trying to show the unpredictability of which others will not. breed is the most violent, but a reader should wonder about all of the other years in the study between 1982 6. In the end, Jayden and his parents survived the brutal and 1995. Were pit bulls the leading biters in all of attack. Gladwell, however, omits this important piece of those years, or were entirely different breeds the lead information. Why do you think he chose not to include biters for each of the various years? A skepical reader the follow-up information on the case? In what way does (which is what we want our students to become) should knowing that everyone turned out OK in the end change the effectiveness of Gladwell’s argument? be suspicious of the information. A chart showing the leading dangerous breed each year Gladwell likely omitted the follow-up information because for a full decade would be more helpful to readers and it’s rather anti-climatic. There’s much more pathos involved help remove doubts that Gladwell is presenting select if we think the mother and child died. He’s using our statistics solely to support his thesis instead of giving the emotions to hold our attention. Knowing that the family is fine might make this issue less urgent for readers; however, full picture. the key issues remain and are worthy of our time and attention. 1. Before reading this article, how did you feel about pit bulls? Discuss two issues surrounding pit bulls that surprised you or caused you to rethink your previously held notions about the animals. Answers will vary, all the way from kids who fear the animals and completely avoid them to other kids who might even own one. Different elements of the article will, obviously, reach different students. Any reasonable answer here should be given credit.

Assignment

Level 2

On a separate sheet of paper, answer every part of the following questions. You must write complete, thoughtful sentences. 1. On the first page, Gladwell mentions Frederick Schauer, who believed that “painting with a broad brush” is often a helpful technique in helping us navigate the world. In your own words, explain what Schauer means by this. Then, give a real-world example of how this can sometimes be true.

intentions.” Explain what Gladwell means by this. Then, tell me if this same idea holds true for people. Do parents have that type of control over their children?

5. Lockwood, vice president of the A.S.P.C.A., said that dog mauling attacks on small children “are generally 2. What is the “category problem,” which Gladwell cases where everyone is to blame.” Is this true in the case discusses on page 2? Explain how this category problem of Jayden Clairoux? Analyze the events of that afternoon relates to pit bulls. and, taking on the role of a judge, assign percentages of blame to the parties involved. Explain your rationale. 3. Why, do you suppose, are small boys be more likely to be attacked by a dog than small girls? 6. In the end, Jayden and his parents survived the brutal attack. Gladwell, however, omits this important piece of 4. On page 4 of the article, Gladwell writes that a information. Why do you think he chose not to include junkyard German shepherd and a German shepherd the follow-up information on the case? In what way does guide dog for a blind person are the same breed, but not knowing that everyone turned out OK in the end change the same dog “because they have owners with different the effectiveness of Gladwell’s argument?

Assignment

Level 2

On a separate sheet of paper, answer every part of the following questions. You must write complete, thoughtful sentences. 1. On the first page, Gladwell mentions Frederick Schauer, who believed that “painting with a broad brush” is often a helpful technique in helping us navigate the world. In your own words, explain what Schauer means by this. Then, give a real-world example of how this can sometimes be true.

intentions.” Explain what Gladwell means by this. Then, tell me if this same idea holds true for people. Do parents have that type of control over their children?

5. Lockwood, vice president of the A.S.P.C.A., said that dog mauling attacks on small children “are generally 2. What is the “category problem,” which Gladwell cases where everyone is to blame.” Is this true in the case discusses on page 2? Explain how this category problem of Jayden Clairoux? Analyze the events of that afternoon relates to pit bulls. and, taking on the role of a judge, assign percentages of blame to the parties involved. Explain your rationale. 3. Why, do you suppose, are small boys be more likely to be attacked by a dog than small girls? 6. In the end, Jayden and his parents survived the brutal attack. Gladwell, however, omits this important piece of 4. On page 4 of the article, Gladwell writes that a information. Why do you think he chose not to include junkyard German shepherd and a German shepherd the follow-up information on the case? In what way does guide dog for a blind person are the same breed, but not knowing that everyone turned out OK in the end change the same dog “because they have owners with different the effectiveness of Gladwell’s argument?

Troublemakers article – Level 2 KEY 1. On the first page, Gladwell mentions Frederick Schauer, who believed that “painting with a broad brush” is often a helpful technique in helping us navigate the world. In your own words, explain what Schauer means by this. Then, give a real-world example of how this can sometimes be true. Schauer means that, in many cases, we need to make generalizations about people. There’s too many people and situations for us not to have some general rules about how certain people will behave. Yes, these are stereotypes, but stereotypes are often true. For example, if a young lady is walking through a rough section of town at night and a drunken pack of five rowdy men start following her, she should be alarmed. She should generalize in this situation that these men do not hold her best interests at heart. 2. What is the “category problem,” which Gladwell discusses on page 2? Explain how this category problem relates to pit bulls. When we match behaviors to a group (or category) of people, we have to be careful about whether there’s a real link between the two. It’s the classic “correlation does not imply causation” idea. For pit bulls, the issue is even murkier because it’s hard to identify the category at all. The breed is actually a mix of a bunch of different breeds. Identifying the aggressive elements in a pit bull as solely being pit-bull-related is nearly impossible because there’s so many other aggressive dog genes running through the animals, Gladwell argues.

guide dog for a blind person are the same breed, but not the same dog “because they have owners with different intentions.” Explain what Gladwell means by this. Then, tell me if this same idea holds true for people. Do parents have that type of control over their children? He’s arguing here that environment trumps biology. Your students’ answers to the second part of the question will vary and be rather interesting, depending of their maturity and relationship with their parents. 5. Lockwood, vice president of the A.S.P.C.A., said that dog mauling attacks on small children “are generally cases where everyone is to blame.” Is this true in the case of Jayden Clairoux? Analyze the events of that afternoon and, taking on the role of a judge, assign percentages of blame to the parties involved. Explain your rationale. In a way, Lockwood is right. Jayden’s father wasn’t as responsible as he should have been. If he’s been right next to Jayden, there’s less of a chance that the toddler would’ve lingered by the fence and/or become targeted by the animals. That being said, Cafe is clearly the most responsible (or, irresponsible) player in this drama. As a judge, I’d probably say the father was 10 percent responsible, city officials were 10 percent responsible, and Cafe was 80 percent responsible. The girlfriend was underage and, therefore, she’s not a factor for me. Expect your students to have passionate opinions about this one. This question will lead to a lively discussion/debate if you choose to review the answers as a class.

6. In the end, Jayden and his parents survived the brutal attack. Gladwell, however, omits this important piece of information. Why do you think he chose not to include the follow-up information on the case? In what way does knowing that everyone turned out OK in the end change the effectiveness of Gladwell’s argument? (Note: This is the same question #6 as on the Level 1 sheet. I included it here, too, because I think it’s important for all classes to know how the story ended.) Gladwell likely omitted the follow-up information because it’s rather anti-climatic. There’s much more pathos involved if we think the mother and child died. He’s using our emotions to hold our attention. Knowing that the family is fine might 4. On page 4 of the article, Gladwell writes that a make this issue less urgent for readers; however, the key junkyard German shepherd and a German shepherd issues remain and are worthy of our time and attention. 3. Why, do you suppose, are small boys be more likely to be attacked by a dog than small girls? There’s two possible answers that work here. First, little boys might be more likely to poke a dog through a fence or yell at it or throw stuff at it. Boys are more active and boisterous, so to speak. These behaviors will likely rile up an aggressive animal. Second, there might be a biological element at play. If a male dog senses another male approaching, even if it’s a human and not a dog, there might be a macho, testosterone-thing going on in the animal’s brain.

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Troublemakers - Writing Home

Let’s Get Real Troublemakers What pit bulls can teach us about profiling READ THINK WRITE DISCUSS Expository Reading & Writing Depth-of-Knowledge...

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