American Government Projects

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by hurley05, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. hurley05

    hurley05 New Member

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    Feb 27, 2012

    Hello,

    I am trying to add something new to my curriculum. I am looking for some type of group project, or even just a fun activity for the students. It is a high american government class. It can be for any part of government really. Anyone have any ideas? thank you
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 27, 2012

    What standards are you hoping to reach with these activities?
     
  4. Nietzsche

    Nietzsche Companion

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    Feb 28, 2012

    I think something to do with Supreme Court cases is valuable. Depending on how much time you want to spend, you could have students argue research and argue cases. I did this with an 8th grade class where teams presented an overview of the case and opposing arguments. Obviously, Sarah Palin's teachers never did anything like this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRuBdW0yBUY
     
  5. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Feb 28, 2012

    Our government teacher actually runs a mock election. The kids each pick a candidate, then the rest of the class makes up the campaign team. They make posters, prepare a speech, etc. She encourages them to pick a candidate that they are unfamiliar with or one with whom they think they oppose so that they will see different sides of an issue. They really enjoy it.

    There are also lots of projects on the first amendment and the Bill of Rights in general. Check out this site: http://www.firstamendmentschools.org/resources/lessonplans.aspx
     
  6. bondo

    bondo Cohort

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    Feb 28, 2012

    I agree with Nietzsche about learning and focusing on Supreme Court cases. They help students exercise their critical thinking muscles and its a good way to show ideology and how they can interpret the same situation and reach a completely different outcome.
     
  7. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Feb 29, 2012

    Ditto on the Supreme Court cases.

    I also really like doing socratic seminars, where I give the students a short reading weighing the pros and cons of a specific issue. (Lowering the drinking age, gun control laws, requiring hands-free phones while driving, etc. etc. -- pick something that your students are passionate about). When they return the next day, I conduct the seminar and the students absolutely LOVE doing this. It's the one time they don't complain about having homework, and they all read the assignment!
     
  8. Ms.History

    Ms.History Rookie

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    Feb 29, 2012

    Also check out the Bill of Rights Institute and Youth Leadership Initiative. They both have AWESOME free resources!
     
  9. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2012

    I used to assign a budget activity. Using this website, http://www.kowaldesign.com/budget/ , I would have students make their own budgets and, in a paper, explain why they raised, cut or left alone spending. And, given the current debate in Congress over spending, this would be extremely relevant. Perhaps you can even have them explain their views on passing a balanced budget amendment.

    For added fun (well, fun for me), I would give them different scenarios in class. I'd call on someone and ask them to tell me where they made the most cuts. I'd then say, "Okay, so you want to cut defense spending. Seems wise given how large the budget is, but given the turmoil in the Middle East, the tensions with North Korea and the current political instability in countries like Syria, do you still think it's wise? Explain." Ideally, this would have been addressed in their paper, but I like to get the dialogue and debate going in class too.
     
  10. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2012

    Also, I'm a huge fan of forcing students to write persuasively so once every two weeks, I'd assign a "controversial topic." Using http://www.procon.org/ for assistance, I'd ask students to choose a side of a topic (i.e.: universal healthcare) and have them debate. What's nice about that site is its sources. Students can simply use one site to find all the sources they need to make their point. While this does take away an important element (learning how to research well), I know second semester seniors will not take the time anyway so this, in my opinion, is a good compromise.
     
  11. Soccer Dad

    Soccer Dad Cohort

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    Mar 3, 2012

    OH and another idea is having students analyze the media. I would assign a group project where students had to bring in articles from different sources on one topic and we'd compare the differing reporting. At home, students would have to analyze the biases of MSNBC, Fox News, and compare U.S. news reporting with that of the BBC.
     

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