I am in the midst of a unit on our constitutional rights, but this year has been hectic on snow days, and I feel like my discussion of the Bill of Rights in general was very light.
Made me think, what is out there that I may consider next year? Here is my list. Hope you enjoy.
ConSource: The Amendments as Proposed
I take a fair amount of time to remind my kids that while J.Madi originally thought that a Bill of Rights (like the English version (1689) many of the colonists were familar with) were paper chains on a sovereign monarch... and that the best impediment is to fracture the powers of legislature, executive, and judicial amongst three co-dependent and equal branches... he ended up caving under pressure from the Anti-Feds and penning a BoR anyways. It was kind of like the first campaign promise; that a Bill of Rights would be written... in order to get the Constitution passed.
But J.Madi wrote 19 amendments pretty much by himself in his first action as House Floor Leader.
Here is a great resource that has all 19 of them spelled out. Thanks, ConSource.
Constitution Center: Traveling History!
I haven't taken students to Philadelphia in quite some time... it's been eight years, actually. (Mental note; I really should. The Constitution Center and Constitution Hall is AWESOME.)
I was playing around on their website today, and was SUPER EXCITED to see that they come to us! What? YES! Their program is called Traveling History, and has materials and programs for all grades, (K-12).
I think my favorite possible opportunity is the "We the Jury" activity.
In addition to this awesome opportunity, they also have a very cute game (that is geared towards 6-8th grade, but I can see used as a hook activity) covering the Bill of Rights.
**And when you have time, here is a great link to a BoR online RPG for the kids to play.
Bill of Rights Downloadable AP DBQs
More mad props to the BoRI for their great, ready to go DBQs on case law.
They do lots of training to support their materials, so look at their website for dates and times for training, and they are nation-wide. Plus, all the heavy lifting is done for you. It's plug and play.
DBQs combine writing and accessing primary and secondary resources. Students have to be crafty in synthesizing original thought after their exposure to the topics. The great thing about these is that they are all FREE. :)
And while I am on the topic of DBQs... you can try these resources, too:
Additional on-line stuff
I have made it a personal commitment to find at least one in-house field trip per year from experts out in the community. I don't know if you have ever invited folks into your school, but it really helps put your students process and contextualize your lessons.
(I secretly think they believe I am crazy when I throw out big fancy words. It's definitely a boost to my street cred when people, fancy people, use the same words. Even bigger boost when the kids understand the fancy words.)
Last summer, I was looking into a way to bring lawyers into my classroom to give more expert light to the legal process. While this is really Fairfax County, Virginia specific, I am sure that if you contact your state's bar, you will find something similar.
Today I had the Fairfax Law Foundation out to my school, complete with a panel of five lovely lawyers representing criminal law, civil law, and family law. There were two criminal defense attorneys, one criminal prosecuting attorney, a family law and a civil law attorney.
It is wonderful to have subject matter experts to explain law to the students in a way that is compelling and true to life. I love moments like this, because I frequently learn from these experiences, too.
For instance, I learned about crimes I frequently associate with young adults like reckless driving and shoplifting ($200 and more) can be a class 6 felony in VA, and result in a year of incarceration for adults. WOW!
FLF also has a Devonshire program for at-risk youths AND a court tour program.
Other resources I have used in the past are local politicians, like state legislators and our Congressmen, as well as members of the various federal agencies that pepper our area.
BUT I AM NOT FROM FAIRFAX COUNTY, VIRGINIA!
I know this seems like it is only applicable in the DMV, but many of these resources are available in your community. State and local officials, federal employees outside of DC, and lawyers are usually excited to come and talk to students. And the kids enjoy it, too.
Look, I am not saying that notetaking and lectures don't work. I have peers who do it, and do it well. I, however, cannot. So, here is some inspiration to stop procrastinating and help your students help themselves.
Edutopia had a great summation of how different kinds of kids can do notes in your class in a way that suits their needs. Got a kid who is out of town? Let them record the class. Got a kid who is a doodler? Find them an app like Evernote, Penulitmate, or PaperPort Notes. Want to stress communal learning? Have the kids make a shared notebook, like Cynthia McClelland. Want to link sound and notes in real time? Try AudioNote or SoundNote.
And finally... if you want to have the kids look for learning in the real world when you're not there, try Field Trip... which gives kids (and adults) a chance to do some authentic exploring on their own. And have them take notes! And share it with you! :)
In the spirit of the Tip and the Gipper (yep, still reading it.), I will give some credits where credits are due, even if it's not me who is creating these gorgeous sites. I am learning that competition is good for the soul. (Really?)
I was digging around while my kids are taking their quarter exams, and I ran across this great website that has the top 25 teaching blogs of 2012.
As the site suggested, I did indeed move on over to the post on teaching (government) thematically on Diana Laufenberg's Living the Dream blog.
While I don't teach history, government is really thematic. Our units weave history, current events, science, philosophy, math, data analysis, sociology, psychology, ehhh. Well. A lot of stuff together, right? So, I get this! I really do!
I then moved onto her learning visually post, primarily because I am developing a visual literacy unit with materials from the National Portrait Gallery this month, and I am trying to get some background before I roll my old bones down there. And, bam! Hello, beautiful! Here are some gems... resources, thoughts, approaches...
So, Diana is the kind of educator I want to be... ripping down what she does and reconstructing it in a way that kids get and *shockingly* retain.
And then, OMG, I read this post and saw about half the dudes and dudettes I work with embedded between the sweet prose of this stream of consciousness. So, I think I am a convert to teachbad, too. Now, I could wax philosophic about my career choice... (As one student of mine told me not twenty minutes ago, I am not rich because I chose this field and that was a risk I took. Thanks, citizen of the week. You know who ya are.) ...but I am not gonna do that. Not here. Not usually. It's cathartic, I know, but taking me away from what I set out to do. But, perchance you need a little cathartic exercise. It's Friday. Come on.
Now. Last coolio item for this post. Since I so love and advocate for tech in the classroom, here is a fun infographic that I may send out to the next parent who is totally skeptical of the BYOD policy in the school. Thanks, topmasters.
Flipping your classroom is all the rage these days.
Creating interesting, informative, concise, and accurate videos about all things gov. I wouldn't have time for a thing else!
I have been watching the boards on Edmodo (see below)... and a consistent contributor is Keith Hughes.
I am already a big fan of his newest jam on the <<Debt Ceiling>>. So, do you want him to jump into your class and explain the 10th Amendment? the Preamble? Electoral College? SCOTUS? Looking for a little video assignment so you can
FLIP FLIP FLIP your classroom? (painlessly?)
My man, HHH, is to the rescue.
... I shuffle over to my FCPS peer, Ken Halla's catchall website. He runs a blog for all of the VA state required Social Studies website... in his spare time. When he is taking a break, the other FCPS Gov rock star, Frank Franz, moonlights for him. (Another god among G-O-V men and (some) women... cause we're so few in number).
Ken is a **rock star** in the social studies community. I don't know if he knows that or not, but I didn't know that until last year. We had a fresh crop of student teachers in our building for a while, and I overheard one of them gushing over how he was going to meet Ken at some event, and he was sooo excited because he was going to talk tech shop with Ken.
So, Rock Star Ken... here is why you have so many fans. (As if you didn't know.) He collects TONS of multi-media material to use in the classroom. My favorites that I saw this morning were video tutorials on the concept of Obamacare for use in the classroom. Brilliant!
He also peppers in best practice tech apps for use in the classroom... like flipping your classroom, Quizlet, QR codes, etc. It does make class a lot of fun. I am down with it.
I don't even know how I made it this far without talking about Edmodo. Srsly.
Studying for tests. Such a drag... But in college I figured it out. I did a lot better in my ecology class when I walked around at midnight with my buddy Theresa and recited the Krebs cycle or lake stratification and seasonal overturn. It was COLLABORATION. We taught each other and learned in the process. So I have tried to replicate that in my classroom. I've done it all, too...
Jeopardy review games online. Games in class. Study Guides. Quizzes. Tests that I took myself and purposefully got wrong, and handed it over to the students to grade. Twitter. Blackboard. But nothing has had as much success as Edmodo. And it's simple.
Edmodo is like Twitter for teachers. No kids slaying each other in subtweets 'cause they know classroom norms are enforced. So when I post test questions open ended, the kids take turns answering them, and then when questions are debatable, they debate! When questions are wrong, they correct! I put essays up there and essays improve! So do test grades! It's great, and takes little effort on my part.
It's an app. It's free. Ta. da.
I also love socrative. This is also an app, also free, also beautiful. I verbally give open ended prompts at the beginning of class as a formative assessment, usually reviewing the previous lesson or homework. The kids work in pairs (less likely to give me answers from Tosh.0 the previous night) to answer. I get right answers. I get wrong answers. We talk about them; sometimes rate them. It's anonymous, so kids are less hesitant. They have all sorts of other awesomeness, like modules for you to build MC quizzes, etc. It's all good stuff.
Ta. Da. Again.
Photo via Flickr/Ted Eytan