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

Federalist 78, the Judiciary, and an argumentative essay

I have stated how much I love teaching the Supreme Court.

It simply cannot be overstated. I could teach an entire semester on the subject, but alas I have a semester to get through the entire AP Government content.

For example, this morning I listened to “Justice Neil Gorsuch, Live at America’s Town Hall” and am currently listening to an audiobook “The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right” This is how I spend a quiet day while my family is out and about.

This week, I tried something new and after it all unfolded, I was elated with how it turned out.

Continue reading “Federalist 78, the Judiciary, and an argumentative essay”

Interactions Among Branches of Government, Professional Development, Writing for AP Gov

The American Presidency

On August 28, I had the pleasure of attending a Teaching American History Seminar on Executive Powers. I always appreciate going to these because it opens my eyes to new documents to use. (Full Document of Readings)

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These were the readings we were required to complete beforehand. I appreciated this because it forced me to look at documents I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Documents I will use in my AP class:

  • Federalist 70
  • FDR “Fireside Chat Reorganizing the Judiciary” *I will use this to bridge between the Presidency and the Judiciary
  • War Powers Resolution and Nixon’s Veto

I actually came back to school the next day and was just starting the executive powers. This was a great way to start off the roles and powers of the executive. The students read through the War Powers Resolution the day I was gone, and came back and read Nixon’s Veto with me. We had a brief discussion on what the president’s power was and how this evolved through the 20th century to dealing with ideologies as opposed to just countries.

I decided to use these documents for an argumentative essay. I plan to have a Socratic seminar first to really allow students to develop their ideas. I don’t plan to give them the prompt per se, but I will let them know they need to make sure they reference these documents. I often take for granted that my students need help to really develop ideas.  find I get much better writing when

Prompt: Using your knowledge of the War Powers Resolution and Nixon’s Veto, develop an argument that explains the Constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution as it relates to the roles of the Executive and Legislative branches.

In your essay you must:

  • Articulate a defensible claim or thesis that responds to the prompt and establishes a line of reasoning.
  • Support your claim with at least TWO pieces of accurate and relevant information
    • At least ONE piece of evidence must be from one of the following foundational documents:
      • US Constitution
      • Federalist 51
      • Federalist 70
    • Use a second piece of evidence from another foundation document from the list or from your study of the Constitution.
  • Use reasoning to explain why your evidence supports your claim/thesis.
  • Respond to an opposing or alternative perspective using refutation, concession, or rebuttal.

I really enjoy these seminars because it requires me to learn more about the documents and it gives me more insight for my class. I can’t even count how many I’ve been to at this point!

TAH has webinars and explores Documents in Detail. I use these to help my students but also to make me a better teacher!

This year, I will focus on the following:

  • Federalist and Antifederalist (Saturday webinar- September 8)
  • Brutus I (October 24)

There are many others both upcoming and past that are super helpful for our class! Registration is free, and even if you can’t make the time, they will send you a copy of it. There is a podcast as well! Just search Teaching American History.

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You just have to love PD that you can turn around to use in your classroom immediately!

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

For Whom The Bell Tolls- John McCain

John McCain has been the Arizona senator since I have lived in the great state of Arizona. Senator McCain is one of my favorite people, not only because he has had a cameo on Parks and Recreation, or that he’s a hero in my eyes, but because he is one of the people in Congress that I truly admire. His ability to have and maintain friendships across the aisle, his humility and ability to say he’s imperfect, and his dedication to his county is second to none.

I encourage you to watch For Whom The Bell Tolls on HBO. It shows an age of politics that is slowly becoming extinct. This is evident in his speech to the Senate on July 25. John McCain gave his life for the service of this country. In my eyes, he is a true American hero.

My AP class is wrapping up Congress and as an Arizona citizen and teacher, I felt that closing it with the speech is the best tribute to our Senator. The prompt I wrote is also a good lead into the Presidency.

This speech is incredible, and it fits in with so many of our standards and a FRQ practice fits in nicely.

1. Argumentative Essay Prompt:

Senator John McCain addressed a full Senate in July of 2017. Some have compared this speech to Washington’s Farewell address. Defend or refute the statement that John McCain’s speech to the Senate was the modern day Farewell Address. (John McCain read Washington’s Farewell Address to the Senate on February 16, 1987 in a tradition that is carried out each year by a different Senator)

Use the following documents:

  • Washington’s Farewell Address
  • Federalist 10
  • US Constitution
  • Article 1, Section 8

** I am giving my students Washington’s Farewell Address and McCain’s Speech.

2. Writing prompt: Using Senator McCain’s speech, find examples of the following:

  • Checks and Balances
  • Separation of Powers (Federalist 51)
  • Roles of the Senate (Constitution)

Thank you, Senator McCain for your dedication to our state and our country.

Foundations of American Democracy

Reflecting on “Document Week”

Document Week 2018 has come to an end.

My students killed it. I am so impressed. I am also so tired! We all became best friends with the trifecta we worked with, even if some students were reluctant at first.

We capped off the week with Federalist_No._51 excerpts, and will begin next week with a comparison of a quote from Brutus 2 and Federalist 51 (listed on page 3).

A few things students noted:

  1. It was helpful for me to go over annotations AFTER they had a chance to read it. Since I already showed them how to annotate with the DeclarationofIndependence(which many were familiar with), they wanted to do it themselves and then have me review the document.
  2. They liked the progression of the documents because they saw the cause and effect.
  3. They appreciated being able to come back with questions. I did have them complete a Summary (3) on Federalist 10, but I made it due the next day at the END of class so they could ask clarifying questions.

 

The ultimate goal at the end of the week

Things I liked:

  1. I liked giving them a focus each day. Example, for Fed 10, I wanted them to focus on Madison’s response to Brutus and the superiority of a large republic in controlling factions (CON-1.A.1)
  2. I really liked working through the documents with them and seeing the moments of realization.
  3. I appreciated the fluid state of the week. I know where I wanted to end by Friday and it gave me more license to work to get the students to really get the messages. You can see how I progressed via my online lesson plan book.

Things I will change or look more closely at:

  1. Next semester, I will do a bit more of a background on the Federalist and Anti-federalists as homework instead of using class time.
  2. I want to develop a reader that goes along with Brutus I to help the students through the document.
  3. I also want to develop a “Call and Response” to help students compare Brutus I and Federalist 10. {Basically give a Brutus argument and then what Madison’s response was}
  4. I want to have enough time to do a Socratic seminar and really allow them to ask questions and work through it in a bigger group.
  5. I am going to make a reader for this unit with focus questions {stay tuned} so that we can have the above mentioned Socratic and I can assess them on their knowledge this way.

 

*As a post script, I was absolutely blown away by the response to my post about Brutus I. I love the collaborative nature of teaching and the ability to share everything and have great discussions. If there is anything you’d like to see from this blog or specific questions you may have, please feel free to comment or contact me! 

 

Foundations of American Democracy

Federalist 10

Factions.

What are they?

Why do we care? (ohmygoddoyouliveunderarock)

Well, you should care. Even George Washington cared. I mean, not all factions are political parties, but all political parties are factions. And let’s be honest. Factions are a huge source of discontent in our nation today.

Faction: a small, organized, dissenting group within a larger one, especially in politics.

{Can we swoon over G’s writing for a second?}

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.”

Let’s all take a second with that. George knew his stuff (or whomever wrote it for him since he was SUPER insecure about his “smarts”. He was military, most of the people he knew were University) September 19, 1796 was far from November 23, 1787 but he saw the discontent in his cabinet. Famously between Hamilton and Jefferson. (SHEG has a great lesson on this, check it out)

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to the Federalist 10 argument.

This is a highly quoted piece of the 85 essays. Most notably, “Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires,” {God, I love James Madison… so much}.

Usually, when I teach this, there is a short video to go through the basics of the piece. It helps students to know what they are going into. It’s helpful to have them try to digest it outside of class. Giving the students an introduction to the whole of the Federalist Papers sets the scene. I give them my annotated Federalist 10. I did this when I was the Bill of Rights Institute Founders Fellowship on the Federalist and AntiFederalist Debate. I like doing this to show them that I’ve already looked at the document myself. We start with a first look, usually just a quick scan of the document, noticing the annotations or quotations that sound familiar. We write down questions and really become friends with the document. Depending on the class, you can send the document home for further annotation. The next day, a small group setting can help students share what they saw, the questions they had, and the summary of what Madison was trying to get to in this specific paper with their peers.

I don’t think going into long lessons is necessary with this document. What is necessary is an understanding that students can refer to throughout the course. What is necessary is helping students break down Madison’s argument. This can be done via jigsaw, in small groups with excerpts, or as a whole class depending on what YOU think is best for YOUR class. (You can jigsaw with Brutus 1)

The end goal is an understanding of the document so that students can move forward in the curriculum using that as a base, as well as a reference.

This can naturally spiral into debates over current divisive political issues that are current to students. At this point, it’s up to you where you let it go. I generally don’t let it go anywhere because that’s not the point of the lesson. However, this could easily transition to…

Lesson Ideas!

Writing Prompt OR Discussion-  Describe how Madison’s Federalist 10 can be explained using a modern day issue. (past 5 years)

Compare and contrast Federalist 10 with Brutus I (I like this version because it’s annotated and has guiding questions to help focus).

Documents of Freedom- Political Parties Activity: Factions and Virtue (sign in required, free resource)

**It also of note to go back around to Washington’s Farewell Address and One Last Time.. But, that’s another post entirely.

Resources:

Fact/Myth- This is a treasure trove

Documents in Detail- Teaching American History