Interactions Among Branches of Government, Required Documents, Teaching Tips, Writing for AP Gov

Congress and the President

After giving notes on the presidency, I wanted to really show students how it works in action today and historically. Here are a few ways I did so. I also discuss the American Presidency in another post. I used a block day and a day for these in total. If you are curious about my schedule, check this out.

Checks on the Presidency:

When looking at my binder and topic 2.5 I wanted to make sure I showed Supreme Revenge because it talks about the failed appointment of Robert Bork and how it changed the nomination process.

Supreme Revenge: this is an excellent look at the Senate’s role in confirmation hearings and how it’s changed since Robert Bork. *Warning- this does look at Anita Hill’s testimony as well as Dr. Blasey-Ford. It is graphic. Please watch this before you decide to show it in class. (CON-4.B.2)

This led to a great conversation about the role of factions in government, how much power the Senate can have, and the best question, ¨Can they do that?¨ It also introduces students to interest groups (Federalist Society), talks about Congressional leadership, committee work, and how a divided government causes gridlock. I often stopped the documentary to show key players throughout the discussed period (Bork´s nomination to Kavanaugh) that include current presidential nominees.

Expansion of Presidential Power:

After reading Federalist 70, we also dig into the War Powers Act and Nixon’s Veto. In order to prepare for a Socratic discussion (or a make-up argumentative essay) I asked students to find another time in history that a president interpreted or justified their formal or informal powers. Because of how we studied, my essay prompt deviates from the traditional structure because I require them to use 4 pieces of evidence in discussing the presidency, including how the Framers saw the president´s role, what the Constitution says, how the War Powers Act (and Nixon´s veto) looks at that role in war time, and contextualizing interpretation or justification of powers to another time in history.

Below is the prompt:

Using your documents, write an argumentative essay on the following prompt:

Develop an argument that analyzes the constitutionality of the War Powers Act.

Use at least one piece of evidence from each of the following documents:
● Federalist 70
● Constitution
● War Powers Act
● An additional piece of evidence from a document you researched from another
time in history that a president

  1. Respond to the prompt with defensible claim or thesis that establishes a line of
    reasoning.
  2. Support your claim with evidence and reasoning to explain why the evidence supports your claim or thesis.
  3. Respond to an opposing or alternate perspective using refutation, concession or
    rebuttal.
    *You will be graded using the AP Argumentative Essay Rubric

There are so many ways to teach the presidency with the new curriculum! What are your favorite resources?

American Political Ideologies and Beliefs, Interactions Among Branches of Government, Writing for AP Gov

The New York Times Op-Ed in AP Government

Over the last few days {years}, most AP Government teachers have steeled themselves, taken a deep breath, and walked into their classrooms. This is one of the best jobs because, regardless of the administration, we have a lot of current things happening that marry nicely with our curriculum. However, sometimes you really wonder if it’s something that you want to or should discuss.

This morning, I came to work early because I knew it was going to be a topic the students wanted to talk about and I wanted to be prepared.

Enter the New York Times Op-Ed. *Note: my students have just finished The Presidency, and are half way through the bureaucracy. I feel this is important because they have an understanding of the two pieces of government that are discussed.

I’ve read it a few times and listened to today’s installment of The Daily I’ve hemmed and hawked over whether or not to discuss it, as we haven’t hit our media unit yet.

But, I decided to go for it. Just not today. I’d like for it all to percolate over the weekend. I want my students to read it and do further research on their own so they can develop their own opinions. There is mention of the bureaucracy insulating themselves from the administration. And I want them to brush up on the 25th amendment because of it’s mention in the article.

Not to mention, we have a lot to do today.

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Basically, I’m taking something that is controversial and getting very medical with it. Meaning, we are dissecting it for examples, but not getting into a debate about it or throwing out opinions that have yet to be formed. I want to give them all the information I can and let them decide. There is no right and wrong way to teach this (ok, maybe there are lots of wrong ways) and YOU know YOUR students best.

Prompt: (Writing or Class Discussion)

Using the information in the article:

A. Identify two expressed powers of the President.

B. Explain how the bureaucracy  implements policy and how they are checked by Congress and the President.

C. Explain how the check on the President from the executive branch is illustrated via the 25th amendment. Here is another article from NPR.

I am going to do C as a class discussion as to better guide the students. I do not want this to turn into a bashing of the administration or the President. It’s not a productive use of my class time. I believe it’s my job to teach them HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

Since my students are only at where they are, I do not feel they are ready to adequately discuss the media aspect, but that will come in the next unit.