Learning Experience – September 27/28 – THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE!

You read about the roles of the President and saw all of the benefits the President receives … but how does a person get that job with the cool White House? The Electoral College, of course – one of the most confusing parts of the American political system.  The system is set up in Article II of the Constitution (you read about it, right?), and we will examine it in detail in or next class.

YOUR TARGET – I can explain and evaluate the presidential election process.

To prepare …

Check out the road to the White House using the Road to the White House in Five Minutes infographic and the How to Become President of the United States Poster.  These should give you an idea of how someone “throws the hat into the ring” and becomes a candidate for the Presidency. Once you get the idea, move to the next step!

Now, front-load your brain on the Electoral College by taking some notes (Electoral College Notes) about the Electoral College using the sweet voice thread below or at this link, past and present.  Come up with some questions along the way and post them on this chat (with your name)!   We will apply this prodigious knowledge in class on Thursday, so please be prepared!

Play Win the White House from iCivics or more Electoral College fun … and you can also use some of the sites below to get a better understanding of the Electoral College.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


We will see this joint in April!

We have hit the basics of Congress – so now it’s time to head to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! To prepare for our next class, you have some “must dos”, some “can dos”, some “fun dos”,  and some “holy smokes I really love this government stuff dos”.

MUST DO – Complete Article II of the Constitution analysis, focusing on the targets – it’s so much shorter than Article I! Also, pay some attention to the news to see what President Obama is doing, not doing, saying, and not saying. IF YOU CAN, complete ARTICLE III  as well!

CAN DO – If your class was able to see the hats of the President, let’s see if you can apply your knowledge.  Check out the 7 Hat Challenge from Scholastic for about five minutes – see how many you get right! You can also watch Crash Course – Presidential Powers for some more info!

FUN DO –  – Play one four-year term of  Executive Command – it will give you an idea of all that the President has to do!  If you want a couple of Executive Branch links,  you came to the right place … The Executive Branch | The White House / Federal Executive Branch | USA.gov / Presidential Fun Facts

HOLY SMOKES I REALLY LIKE THIS GOVERNMENT STUFF DO – Like trivia?  Try out Taft’s Presidential Trivia #1?  Good times learning about the Chief Executives … and I am sure there are some Jolly Ranchers in store for the people that get the answers all right!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Federalism .. or should it be called Funfederalism?

Get it?  Federalism is so fun, that it should be called Funfedere … all right, I will stop. Hopefully you get the idea of Federalism from today’s activity. Want to review or learn more? Check out Federalism from ushistory.org or checkout Federal Powers Man from Ignite Media  below for a refresher.

Want to play a game? Try out Power Play from iCivics, and see if you can solve the challenge!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LEARNING EXPERIENCE – Article I – Welcome to Congress!

Young historians – it’s time to dig into the Constitution!  As we read through the awesome document, you may want to utilize one of the many the interactive online Constitutions as a guide.  I encourage it, especially if you get stuck!  I find the Interactive Constitution from Prentice Hall to be the easiest – not too overwhelming, and an easy summary if you get lost. We will begin with the legislative branch – Congress. Your first task is to start reading Article I, getting as far as you can for our next class.  My thoughts? Spend 25 minutes the afternoon/night you get it and 25 minutes the next afternoon/night … and we will see how far you go.

If you want to see a little bit of Congress in action, play LawCraft, a fun legislation game from iCivics.org! Gotta love government games …

Want to find out even more?  Of course!  Check out …

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-7-58-00-pmIt’s a lucky time in your lives, young historians – you get to read and analyze the original US Constitution!  You will have a detailed study guide that will take you though the seven articles of the fabled document, and a separate assignment for the Bill of Rights – FUN!

How will we begin?  By starting to throw some darts at two learning targets – I can outline the basic structure of the Constitution and I can apply the goals of the Preamble to our current society.  Using your Structure and Preamble document DOC,  check out the basics of the Constitution in class and recording some simple notes. This should give you a great overview of the document … and it’s pretty easy! Note the cool Constitutional quotes along the side of the notes – great stuff!  Pick your favorite!

Then, it’s time to dive into the Preamble of the Constitution.  These goals set the stage for the United States government, and also make a fun little Schoolhouse Rock jingle. Start the Preamble assignment – you may not get examples for all of the goals of the Preamble just yet.

Some Preamble fun?  Here you go …

For my favorite English teacher next door …

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LEARNING EXPERIENCE September 15/16 – Ratification

Once the Constitutional Convention concluded, there was still a huge hurdle for the document to become a reality – Ratification, or the process of approving the Constitution. As you will find out, it will take 9 out of 13 states to approve the Constitution before it becomes the law of the land, and that won’t be an easy task.

In our next class, you will represent a Federalist (supporter) or Antifederalist (opponent)  of the Constitution.  How do you prepare? Carefully read your handout on “The Ratification Conflict” and then spend 20 minutes (SET A TIMER) looking at the various Ratification Conflict links below.  You should be searching for arguments for your side and filling in that column in your notes   Of course, you can start to fill in the other side if you want.

And if you REALLY REALLY REALLY want to dig in to Ratification …


How will you show your understanding of the creation of the Constitution?  Any way you want … as long as you hit the targets!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LEARNING EXPERIENCE September 13/14 – The Convention!

Untitled design

What an amazing Convention!  The delegates created a document that George Washington termed “a miracle” – what do you think he meant? Aren’t you dying to know more?  Spend some time with the materials below to review the causes, influences and actions of the Framers of the Constitution.  How long, you ask?  That’s up to you – but realize that you will be asked to hit some targets very soon!



The Constitutional Convention by Gordon Lloyd and Teaching American History – Pretty much everything you would ever need to know about the Convention.  On a scale of 1-4, Lloyd gets a 3,451.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on LEARNING EXPERIENCE September 13/14 – The Convention!

Learning Experience September 9/12 – Preparing for the Constitutional Convention

It’s pretty obvious that the young United States needed a new government in 1787, isn’t it? (If not, please review the AOC again!)  After a few smaller meetings took place to set the stage, a meeting of members of all (almost all) 13 states was scheduled for May of 1787 in beautiful Philadelphia.  The resulting document will be the longest lasting written form of government still in use today – the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.  

This amazing meeting in Philadelphia will become an integral part of America’s story, and one that we will learn about over the next few activities.  55 men met in the Pennsylvania State House that long, hot summer, creating a framework of government that has lasted (with a few changes) until today – and you will play one of them (actually, parts of many of them)!

In our “Convention”, you will be representing a delegate to the Federal Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.  Your role below is really an amalgamation (ooh, cool word) of the participants in the three-month meeting, and your goal is to represent their opinions, examine the arguments and compromises made at the convention, and understand why the writing of the Constitution has been called “A Miracle in Philadelphia”.

This amazing meeting in Philadelphia will become an integral part of America’s story, and one that we will learn about over the next few activities.  55 men met in the Pennsylvania State House that long, hot summer, creating a framework of government that has lasted (with a few changes) until today.  For our next class, your tasks are …

CONTEXT – To prepare for the Convention, your first task is to find out more about the events and ideas that led to the momentous meeting in the summer of ’87.  Listen to The Calling of the Convention podcast (you can read it too) and check out the Life in 1787 handout (kinda cool info) to provide CONTEXT and set the stage for the events of the Convention. Your learning target is I can describe the events and issues leading to the Constitutional Convention. This should be done FOR OUR NEXT CLASS. 

IDEAS – The 55 men that spent the summer of 1787 in Philly came with many of their own ideas – but they were also influenced by many individuals, events, documents, and concepts from the previous millennia.  Your target is I can illustrate and explain the ideas that influenced the Framers of the Constitution. To examine these ideas, complete some sort of illustrated notes that summarize the 6 major ideas that influenced the Framers of the Constitution. You can make sketchnotes, digital notes, flash cards, an annotate collage –  you name it – just make sure you have the MOST IMPORTANT concept(s) from each idea and illustrations to support your understanding.   on the major ideas that influenced the Framers of the Constitution.

The terms/ideas are the Roman Republic, Cincinnatus and civic virtue, the Magna Carta,  the Mayflower Compact, the English Bill of Rights, and Montesquieu and separation of powers.   This should be done AFTER OUR NEXT CLASS. I would also love for you to write the learning target on your work as well!

I think a ballpark time of five minutes on each is pretty decent. These are all covered in a voicethread, also available below, but you could use other resources if you want. The VT is the easiest … but it has Taft’s boring voice, and it’s a bit old.

CONVENTION PREP –In our next class, we will be experiencing some of the major arguments and debates of the long hot summer in the “City of Brotherly Love”.  You will be in a smaller group, discussing the major arguments of many of the great delegates and then coming to conclusions about the compromises that were made.  To be ready for action, carefully look at the perspectives of your composite delegate (sorta like a Constitutional Frankenstein) so you have a decent idea of the topics of discussion! You should have the perspectives in your own words as well, and understand the basics about each of your positions.  Remember, you are a combination of views. This should be done FOR OUR NEXT CLASS.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Learning Experience September 9/12 – Preparing for the Constitutional Convention


Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 1.45.56 PMThe first American government – the Articles of Confederation!  You got a little taste of it in class (get it – taste?  Candy activity that no group won … ha ha ha), and we chatted about it in class.

Use the links below (or any other link) to add to / complete your notes.

You can (and should) also take a look at some of the following videos to help you out with the AOC and Shays’ Rebellion:

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on LEARNING EXPERIENCE Sept 7/8 – The AOC

Your first quiz – HIT THE TARGETS!

Your first quiz of the year is going to be a short one and probably a little different than quizzes you may have seen before. The purpose of the quiz is to see how you’re doing on meeting the learning targets that we have established in class. Those targets appear on your assignments and notes, and also can be found on the class website. To give you a refresher, here they are:

  • I can explain the direct and indirect impact of government on the lives of the people.
  • I can describe the importance of government using the terms “state of nature”, “natural rights”, and “social contract”.
  • I can discuss the basic structure, concepts, and importance of the Declaration of Independence.

If you don’t do well on a certain part of the quiz, there’s a possibility that you will be able to get that target reassessed – but it will be up to you to put in the work and schedule a time. This doesn’t give you the free pass to ignore studying for a quiz or test. I can promise you that doing well the first time around will make life easier for everyone, and reassessments may not always be available on your schedule.

How will the quiz be different? First, you won’t end up getting a grade on it – that is, a traditional grade. Instead you will receive scores on meeting the different targets. Secondly, there may be questions on the quiz that you might not answer, as they will be optional. Those optional questions may prove to be challenging and require you to go above and beyond the expectation. If you can’t answer them, no worries! Remember, your goal is to hit the target. Triple bullseyes are great, but not required or expected.

Check your assignments and notes, and you can take a look at  online material as well. Need to remember the stuff about the social contract?  Take a look :

Breaking up is hard to do …

A couple of crowd sourced importances …

And here’s an old “Importance of the DOI” voicethread:

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Your first quiz – HIT THE TARGETS!