As they framed the Constitution, many of the Founding Fathers were wary of a powerful chief executive who might overshadow the legislative branch. By constructing the separation of powers within the federal government with a system of checks and balances, the Framers sought to limit the power of the president. Students will investigate not only the formal checks as laid out in the Constitution, but also explore the informal checks on presidential power that have emerged in the modern era. Free registration required to access lesson plan.
Election 2020: Politics, Covid-19 and the Economy
The state of the economy during the presidential election season has a significant impact on not just the approval rating of the incumbent president at the time, but also has an impact on the policies in which presidential candidates run on. Additionally, the state of the economy also influences who will come out to vote in that year. This year, 2020, it is just one of many factors that may affect voter turnout but the economy may be underestimated. This exercise will encourage students to evaluate how other fluctuations in the economy may affect the ratings, policies, and decisions of the 2020 presidential candidates.
Birth of American Democracy: Discourse, Debate and Compromise
In this exploration of American democracy students will follow the path to representative government by analyzing the tradition of discourse, debate, and compromise from Jamestown to Williamsburg and Philadelphia and finally to Washington. Students will determine the importance of debate and compromise for the development of a government by and for the people and also identify strategies for making their voices heard in government today. Free registration required to access lesson plan.
Local Politics: The Need for Compromise
This lesson examines the process of local decision making and its need for citizen input and compromise. Students simulate a local city/county council session and advise the council on public policy. Students are asked to consider the viewpoints of different citizen groups in order to reach a compromise that will benefit the entire community. This lesson can be used with a unit on local politics and can be adapted to reflect issues of compromise in your school or community. Free registration required to access the lesson plan.
Voting: What Is It And Does It Matter?
This short activity is designed to introduce students to the concept of voting and its importance to American citizenship. Materials are also available in Spanish. Free registration is required to access the lesson plan.
Leadership and Follow the Leader
The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to the concept of leadership and identify the qualities of a leader. Free registration is required to access the lesson plan.
Media Literacy: Making Sense of the 24/7 News Cycle
A free press is essential to the success of a democracy. As the media has evolved over time to include radio, television, internet and now smart phones and social media apps, the ability in “being capable to read them” needs examining. This lesson guides students through analysis of social media posts, the definition of terms relevant to the media, and provides tools for identifying quality sources for examination of current political issues. This lesson accompanies the Talking Turkey: Taking the ‘Dis’ Out of Civil Discourse program as well as YLI and American Evolution’s First Freedom Wall. Free registration is required to access the lesson plan.
The Bill of Rights
In this lesson, students will be introduced to the Bill of Rights. Students will be asked to illustrate those rights in order to demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which our Constitution protects the citizens of the United States. Students will also be able to determine how the Constitution affects the daily life of Americans.
Amending the Constitution: Why Change?
The U.S. Constitution, though it serves as the firm foundation for our system of government, incorporates a process for change and flexibility. This lesson allows students to investigate, analyze and simulate the amendment process that allows the Constitution to remain an evolving document as envisioned by the Framers. Free registration is required to access the lesson plan.
Political Ideology in America: Bumper Sticker Politics
Americans love to personalize their vehicles in a way you will not see in many other countries. This lesson explores political ideology by analyzing data on automobile purchases and bumper stickers. Students will learn generalizations about conservatives, liberals, Democrats, Republicans, libertarians, socialists and appreciate the American custom of advertising political thought in public. Free registration required to access the lesson plan.