Political parties today – Learning experience Rocktober 17-18

I can describe the functions and views of the two major political parties in the United States.

We will be returning to the world of history in a few says, but I know many of you are interested in the world of political parties today – so why not spend a little time with some of the information below?

STEP ONE – Read this disclaimer: When we look at political parties and political views in class and at school, we respect the viewpoints of our classmates and other members of school. Positive, open political discussions are core to our democracy. Name calling and ridiculing are not – and will not be tolerated. We also realize that many online resources are biased about the views of political parties, so all sources must be carefully scrutinized.

STEP TWO – Complete the UNSCIENTIFIC POLITICAL ASSESSMENT FORM – and get a parent or sibling to so it as well! THIS IS ENTIRELY OPTIONAL.

STEP THREE – Find a great definition for POLITICAL PARTIES – and then find another to compare and complete your first definition

STEP FOUR – Check out The Functions of Political Parties – Cliffs Notes, The Functions of Political Parties, and Political Parties: Crash Course Government and Politics

STEP FIVE – Check out the general views of each of the two major political parties and record them on the back of your notes.  This comparison of the two parties comes from their platforms, as does this one  and this one.  You can use On the Issues to find the views of the two major parties –Democratic and Republican.  Diffen has a comparison of the views of each party, If you want to get the official full story from each side, check out the Republican Party Platform and the Democratic Party Platform, officially adopted at the national conventions last summer.

STEP SIX -Want more? Try some more  UNSCIENTIFIC TESTS –  Pew Research Center Political Quiz /  I Side With / Political Typology Quiz / Political Spectrum Quiz

If you want to check out a cool (and biased) infographic, click the image from informationisbeautiful.net. Remember, a lot of what we talk about here will be generalizations, as there are very few absolutes in politics.

You can also watch this video of two not very good rappers rapping …

WHAT ABOUT THIRD PARTIES? Recently, many surveyed  supported the development of a third party.  How about third parties?  Of course, if you really like this stuff and want to learn about some of the other political parties in the United States, check out this comprehensive list from Politics 1 , another list from Project Vote Smart, and the links from DC’s Political Report.  They have some interesting choices for your political appetite, including the Objectivist Party,  the Pirate Party, the Alaskan Independence Party, and my personal favorite, the Light Party.


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Assignment Rocktober 16 – The First Political Parties

George Washington warned about the “the baneful effects of the spirit of party.”Alexander Hamilton felt that parties were evil and ought to be suppressed.  Thomas Jefferson once said, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”  So what happened in Washington’s administration, mostly because of Hamilton and Jefferson?  The development of political parties.  Go figure.

How did these parties start?  What were the views of each?  Why does this matter? You can find out by enjoying the videos below!

From John Adams, the awesome HBO miniseries:

From John Green, my favorite Crash Course guy:

Want a little Political Parties hip-hop? Start with the guys at Flocabulary, and and finish with the guys from Hamilton!


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Young Constitutional Scholars  – The streaming review video should be available here. I will try to be ready to go on THURSDAY NIGHT at 7:00 for about 45 minutes. You should log into you GA account – but if you have to make a name, put in your first name and last initial as your username. Please make sure you are a good digital citizen and that you aren’t asking basic general questions right from the study guide. This should be the end of your preparation – not the beginning.

You will be provided a copy of the Constitution for the test- you may not need it if you have prepared progressively and applied your knowledge over the past few weeks.

Don’t forget to use the BAR EXAM REVIEW GUIDE the terminology posted a few weeks ago , some Bar Exam graphics, and some of the resources below – many are old, but they may help!


Where in the Constitution

Constitutional Headlines


Older Review Exercises

Review Exercise #1 – The Constitution

Review Exercise #2 – Vocab

Review Exercise #3 – The Bill of Rights

Review Exercise #4 – Is it Constitutional?

OLD Reviewcasts – Bar Exam Review #1 – The Structure and Basic Principles of the Constitution / Bar Exam Review #2 – The Three Branches / Bar Exam Review #3 – The Lawmaking Process, Checks and Balances, and the Amendment Process / Bar Exam Review #4 – The Bill of Rights – Remember, these are OLD!

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LEARNING EXPERIENCE – Amendments 2-10 … and a little bit of 14 – Rocktober 4/5

Hopefully you are still curious about how the First Amendment and the courts both protect and limit your rights … and you want more!  Tonight, dive into the remaining parts of the Bill of Rights by using the video below – I hope these help!

For a few of the amendments, try to come up with some more situations or “What ifs?” – and try to make them applicable to you!

Section 1 Section 2 /Section 5 /Section 6 /Section 7 

Once you are done with Amendments 2-10, post your most and least important Amendments in the form below!

MY NEW FAVORITE BILL OF RIGHTS GAME – That’s Your Right! from Annenberg

How about a little more Bill of Rights fun, and a great way to test your understanding (and the speed of your mouse clicks)?  Give Do I Have a Right? from iCivics a whirl.  You will have to login, and take a look at the tutorial.  Make sure you improve your waiting area and get the Cafe++ … and move quickly.   My high score last night was 4950 points – beat that.

And imagine – what would life be without the Bill of Rights?  And play this  Bill of Rights game! And this Bill of Rights game! And this Bill of Rights game!

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Learning Experience Rocktober 2-3 – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS (and limits)! The First Amendment

Religion, speech, press, assembly, petition – the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment. Are you read to learn about them?  I hope so …

You have two handouts to use for next class – The Bill of Rights Intro  and The Bill of Rights Notes.   Read “The Story of the Bill of Rights” and then dig into the First Amendment as you take a look at this intro video.

Post any scenarios you come up with on your section bulletin board:

Section 1 / Section 2 / Section 5 / Section 6 / Section 7 

Then, take the specific case presented to you in class and investigate what actually happened.  Summarize the decision and your opinion of the decision carefully on your half sheet of paper. You can use a Google Search, or check out The First Amendment in School.

Once you are done with the “Five Freedoms”, browse these First Amendment sites below a little and try to come up with a questionable scenario for the freedoms.  It makes it a whole lot more enjoyable if you come up with situations that apply to you and your family! Talk to your parents about it!

Do you know your stuff?  Take the First Amendment quiz!

When you are done, post your most important freedom in the form below:

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It’s been a lot of government so far, my young political scholars – and we aren’t done yet! Here are some things you can do over the next few days to get that Constitution and the federal government cemented in your mind – but only the first two are expected!

You can also use the weekend to get going on assembling some resources for your skeleton bibliography.  Don’t wait until the last minute!

Also, get outside! Enjoy the fall, get some fresh air, play in a creek, throw the football around, ride your bike, kick the soccer ball, help out in the yard, get some ice cream … yeah!


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Learning Experience – The Wild and Wacky 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/or 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!

Watch one, two or more of these videos to get a general idea on the Electoral College  (each video has its own bias). As you watch, come up with some questions – and post them in this PollEv with your name! We will (try to) make sense of all of this in class on Thursday.

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.

Want even more!?


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Learning Experience – The Executive Branch and Article II – September 22-25

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”.

TRY TO 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 Trump is doing, not doing, saying, and not saying.

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!

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Learning Experience – The Lawmaking Process

How does a bill become a law in Congress?  The process is established in the Constitution (Article I Section 7), but it has become a bit more detailed since 1787. Read the handout presented in class for the basics, and if you want to dig in deeper, check out the resources below.  good times!

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